Ranking the 2020 CFL draft classes (sort of)

Photo courtesy: Wilfrid Laurier Athletics

I typically rank every team’s performance in the days following the draft, but this year I found that difficult to do.

Looking at the draft classes below, there aren’t any that stand out as obvious winners and losers. None are perfect, none are poor, and all come with at least a small amount of risk. As such, it hardly seems fair to rank any of them definitively at the top or bottom.

Instead, I’ve grouped them under three different headings. Is that cop-out? Probably. But this is what I feel best reflects what teams did on draft day.

I’ve included my live grades for all 73 selections for easy reference.

Solid (but not spectacular)

These teams did well on draft day. I’m not calling their respective classes perfect, but they all did strong work.

Montreal Alouettes

2 (14) DB Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Montreal (A)
2 (16) DT Cameron Lawson, Queen’s (B+)
3 (22) OL Carter O’Donnell, Alberta (B+)
3 (25) DE Benoit Marion, Montreal (C+)
4 (33) LB Brian Harelimana, Montreal (B+)
6 (49) OL Andrew Becker, Regina (A)
6 (51) LB Jersey Henry, Concordia (B-)
7 (60) REC Vincent Alessandrini, Concordia (B-)
8 (66) DE Brock Gowanlock, Manitoba (B+)
8 (69) RB Colton Klassen, Saskatchewan (A)

Dequoy was a steal in the second round considering the Alouettes discussed trading up to take him in the first. Becker also has star potential considering he would have been a first-round talent if it weren’t for his concussion issues.

Marion was a bit of a reach in the third round, though it’s clear that Danny Maciocia wanted to draft as many former Carabins as possible. Lawson should make an impact on the defensive line, while O’Donnell will be elite if he reports following his career in the NFL.

Henry provides intriguing depth at linebacker and safety — at six-foot, 205 pounds, he’s a ‘tweener.’ Klassen should be productive if he’s given an earnest chance to compete.

Ottawa Redblacks

1 (6) LB/DB Adam Auclair, Laval (B+)
2 (10) DT Michael Hoecht, Brown (B+)
2 (19) LB Daniel Basambambo, Laval (A)
4 (29) OL Jakub Szott, McMaster (A-)
5 (38) DB Treshaun Abrahams-Webster, Calgary (B)
6 (47) LB Brad Cowan, Wilfrid Laurier (B)
7 (56) DE Rashaan Davis, Ottawa (B+)
8 (65) OL Kétel Assé, Laval (A+)

Auclair fills an immediate need for the Redblacks, capable of contributing at safety, linebacker and on special teams. Though it’s clear teams weren’t high on him heading into the draft, getting a tackle like Assé in the eighth round is spectacular value.

Cowan and Davis will provide some much-needed help on special teams, as will Basambombo when he reports in 2021. Szott could be a sneaky-good pick in the fourth round, while Hoecht will be a star if he reports from the NFL.

The only thing keeping Ottawa’s draft from being the best of the bunch? The team needs help at receiver and didn’t take one.


These teams didn’t have a lot of picks — well, not many early ones, anyway — but they maximized the value of what they had.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

1 (7) OL Mattland Riley, Saskatchewan (B)
4 (30) REC Kian Schaffer-Baker, Guelph (A-)
4 (35) LB A.J. Allen, Guelph (B+)
5 (44) DB Vincent Dethier, McGill (B+)
6 (53) RB/FB Jonathan Femi-Cole, Western (B+)
7 (62) OL Jesse Lawson, Carleton (B+)
8 (71) DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma (B)

Riley may have been taken a little bit early, but there’s no chance he would have been available for Saskatchewan in the fourth round. Considering that he’s local and fits a positional need, it’s still a solid pick at seventh-overall.

Schaffer-Baker will help round-out the club’s receiving corps, while I like the additions of Allen, Dethier, and Femi-Cole for depth special teams.

Lawson needs a lot of development but has great length and moves well, making him a worthwhile project. There’s a 99.9 percent chance Gallimore never plays in the CFL, but taking him with the third-last pick in the draft is hardly a high price to pay for his rights.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

2 (18) DB Noah Hallett, McMaster (B+)
4 (37) REC Brendan O’Leary-Orange, Nevada (A)
5 (39) K/P Marc Liegghio, Western (A)
5 (46) DE Nicholas Dheilly, Saskatchewan (B)
6 (55) LB Kyle Rodger, Ottawa (B)
7 (64) DB Tanner Cadwallader, Wilfrid Laurier (B+)
8 (73) DB Bleska Kambamba, Western (A-)

Hallett is an athletic freak who meets a need in the secondary for the Bombers. His brother, Nick, was a seventh-round pick of the team last year, which is a nice added bonus.

O’Leary-Orange could be the steal of the draft if he stays healthy. He hasn’t produced much over the past two years but his combination of size, speed and NCAA pedigree make him an intriguing prospect.

It will be interesting to see what Winnipeg does at kicker with Liegghio — who performs all three kicking jobs — alongside Justin Medlock. Good class overall.

Mixed bag

These teams made some slam dunk selections, but may have also put up an air ball or two.

B.C. Lions

1 (1) LB Jordan Williams, East Carolina (A)
2 (15) QB Nathan Rourke, Ohio (A)
3 (23) DT Court Hammond, Western Oregon (D)
5 (40) OL Matt Guevremont, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (B-)
5 (43) REC Cordell Hastings, Acadia (B)
7 (58) RB Kayden Johnson, York (A)
8 (67) LB Damien Jamieson, York (B+)

Williams was a no-brainer with the top pick considering his NCAA pedigree, elite athleticism, and ability to start almost immediately. I also love the addition of Rourke who should immediately take on the role of backup quarterback.

Hammond was a big reach considering his knee problems, while I’d argue Guevremont’s not nearly as good as Chris Gangarossa (who was still available at 40). Johnson is a boom-or-bust pick given his concussion issues.

Jamieson was a sneaky-good add in the eighth-round considering his athleticism. He’ll help out on special teams.

Calgary Stampeders

1 (3) DE Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund, Southeastern Louisiana (A)
2 (12) REC Trivel Pinto, UBC (B)
3 (21) REC Rysen John, Simon Fraser (B)
3 (26) OL Jonathan Zamora, St. FX (C+)
4 (31) LB/DB Kurtis Gray, Waterloo (B+)
4 (34) REC Tyson Middlemost, McMaster (D)
6 (52) DT Andrew Seinet-Spaulding, McGill (B+)
7 (61) P Kieran Burnham, St. FX (B)
8 (70) DB Michael Asibuo, Concordia (B)

The Stamps coveted Adeyemi-Berglund throughout the draft process and got him after trading down from first overall. He’ll be a great addition for them, rotating with Derek Wiggan, Vincent Desjardins, and Connor McGough while contributing heavily on special teams.

It’s clear that Calgary was unhappy with its Canadian receivers in 2019, adding two pass catchers early in Pinto and John. He has special teams value, but Middlemost was a shocker in the fourth round. I was also surprised to see Zamora join a team that’s already deep at the centre position.

Seinet-Spaulding brings good value in the sixth-round as an interior defender, while Burnham will compete for Rob Mavers’ old punting job.

Edmonton Eskimos

1 (4) OL Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Buffalo (A)
2 (13) DE Alain Pae, Ottawa (C)
3 (24) LB Malik Tyne, Towson (B)
4 (32) DB Dotun Aketepe, Guelph (B)
5 (41) K/P Dante Brown, Fort Hays State (A-)
6 (50) OL Chris Gangarossa, Wagner (A)
7 (57) OL Nick Summach, Saskatchewan (B+)
7 (59) DE Rossini Sangjong-Djabome, York (A-)
8 (68) FB Mitch Raper, Carleton (B)

Jack-Kurdyla doesn’t have a super high ceiling, but he might be good enough to start right away for Edmonton. Plugging him into a starting role — and going with Dante Brown as their placekicker — could provide some cap relief for a team that needs it.

Pae was a reach in the second round, though he will provide some depth behind Kwaku Boateng and Mathieu Betts. Gangarossa was a steal in the fifth-round and I like the special teams value of Tyne and Sangjong-Djabome (who, coincidentally, has the best name of any player in the draft).

Akepete was a bit of a draft day sleeper — who moves well in coverage and is a solid tackler.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

1 (5) OL Coulter Woodmansey, Guelph (C)
1 (8) DE Mason Bennett, North Dakota (B+)
2 (17) LB Bailey Feltmate, Acadia (A)
3 (27) REC Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo (A)
4 (36) DB Stavros Katsantonis, UBC (A)
5 (45) OL Joseph Bencze, McMaster (B-)
6 (54) DB Jean Ventose, UBC (B)
7 (63) K J.J. Molson, UCLA (B)
8 (72) LS Tom Schnitzler, UBC (B+)

I think the Ticats reached when they selected Woodmansey at fifth overall, but it’s hard to argue with any of their other picks. Bennett is a potential ratio-breaker at defensive end, while Feltmate is the perfect replacement for Nick Shortill.

Ternowski and Katsantonis were great value selections in the mid-rounds, while Bencze is an intriguing project along the offensive line. Molson has a cannon for a leg, though he struggles with accuracy.

For me, the big miss for Hamilton was the decision not to select Marc Liegghio out of Western who would have been the perfect replacement for Lirim Hajrullahu.

Toronto Argonauts

1 (2) REC Dejon Brissett, Virginia (C+)
1 (9) OL Theren Churchill, Regina (C+)
2 (11) LB Jack Cassar, Carleton (B+)
2 (20) DT Sam Acheampong, Wilfrid Laurier (A)
3 (28) OL Dylan Giffen, Western (A-)
5 (42) RB Dion Pellerin, Waterloo (A)
6 (48) REC Samuel Baker, Saskatchewan (B+)

It’s possible these picks will work out brilliantly for Toronto, but there are plenty of selections here that come with bust potential. Brissett hasn’t produced in two years, while Churchill was projected by many teams as a mid-round pick.

I like the addition of Cassar as a future potential starter and the mid-round selection of Pellerin as a versatile weapon on offence and special teams. Acheampong and Giffen could make or break this class depending on how well they develop.

Baker fought through injuries at Saskatchewan but was productive when healthy.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.