CFL to keep all NCAA prospects in 2021 draft even if they return to school

Photo courtesy: Penn State Athletics

Another change is coming to the CFL draft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per sources, the league has decided to keep all NCAA prospects in the 2021 CFL Draft regardless of whether or not they plan to play another season of college football. This is different from the traditional eligibility rules that require players to have completed their NCAA careers before entering the draft.

In August, the NCAA voted to ensure that all fall athletes — even those currently playing — would not lose a year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 crisis. This means football players can return for the 2021 college season even if they are currently seniors.

I reported earlier this month that the league was considering keeping all NCAA prospects in the 2021 CFL Draft after 132 U Sports players opted out. That decision has now been finalized and should be formally announced after Christmas.

Keeping all NCAA prospects in the draft will help ensure that there are enough legitimate prospects to fill out the upcoming draft. It does, however, mean that there will be increased risk with selecting certain players.

Ottawa native Liam Dobson recently entered the transfer portal, signaling that he is planning to play another year of college.

He would be a top selection in the 2021 CFL Draft based on pure talent, but his NFL stock could rise or fall dramatically depending on how and where he plays in 2021. Whoever selects him in the CFL draft has to be willing to gamble on his future, hoping that he signs north of the border sooner rather than later.

This change makes perfect sense for the CFL in a year of unprecedented shifts and disruptions. It will be interesting to see how teams view each NCAA prospect and weigh the risk versus the reward of selecting them.

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