3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 98 QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks

The lowest-ranking starting quarterback on our list — by a significant margin — is Nick Arbuckle, coming in at No. 98.

This is more a result of having the smallest body of work to evaluate rather than a statement or judgement on his skills.

The Camarillo, Calif. native made the most of his time at Georgia State University, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 7,651 yards, 51 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. That production earned Arbuckle an invite to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie mini-camp in 2016, however he failed to crack their roster.

In 2017, the Calgary Stampeders signed Arbuckle and he settled into the role of backing up franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell before long. In just over two seasons as a Stampeder, Arbuckle completed 72 percent of his passes (191-of-263) for 2,247 yards with twelve touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had 62 carries for 149 yards and nine touchdowns.

The six-foot-one, 213-pound quarterback’s breakout came early in the 2019 season, when he filled in for an injured Mitchell. In seven games as a starter, Arbuckle led the team to a 4-3 record, completing 73 percent of his passes for 2,103 yards, eleven touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had three 300-plus-yard passing games in addition to scrambling 27 times for 76 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Following the completion of the 2019 season, Arbuckle was scheduled to hit the free agent market. The Stamps traded his rights to the Ottawa Redblacks in exchange for a third-round pick. The trade also had a condition attached to it stating that if Arbuckle was signed to an extension before hitting the market, Calgary and Ottawa would flip first-round picks (first overall for sixth overall).

Given that Arbuckle was arguably the top pivot set to become a free agent — and with rumours swirling of interest from the Toronto Argonauts and their new head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who worked closely with Arbuckle in Calgary — Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins wasted no time inking Arbuckle to a two-year contract extension through the 2021 season.

As a result, Ottawa gave up the first overall pick in the 2020 draft and their third rounder in exchange for the sixth overall pick and the player they hope will turn out to be their franchise quarterback.

There’s no denying that Arbuckle oozes potential, especially given the fact that he’s paired with head coach Paul LaPolice, one of (if not the best) offensive minds in the league. LaPolice has a long history of getting the most out of his quarterbacks — see everyone from Kerry Joseph to Kevin Glenn to last season’s trio of Matt Nichols, Chris Streveler and Zach Collaros as examples.

Whenever the CFL takes the field again, R-Nation will be watching the development of Arbuckle closely, hoping the 26-year old is indeed capable of being the man under centre directing LaPolice’s attack for the foreseeable future.

Although Arbuckle doesn’t yet have the resume to warrant a higher ranking, if he manages to live up to his potential, there’s no reason he couldn’t be one the biggest risers on this list in 2021.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

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Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).