5. DE Ja’Gared Davis, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
If you want to get to the Grey Cup, just sign Ja’Gared Davis.
The SMU product has played four seasons in the CFL and has reached its championship game each year. He was with Calgary during their run of three-straight Grey Cup appearances from 2016-18 and was with the Ticats in 2019.
Davis has won only one league title, but his run of appearances is nothing short of amazing. He has signed back with the Ticats for 2021, which bodes well for Hamilton’s chances of repeating as East Division champions.
The 30-year-old has amassed 36 sacks in 62 games over his four-year career, also wracking up 181 total tackles, ten forced fumbles, three interceptions and one touchdown. The converted linebacker has become one of the league’s premier pass rushers but also remains effective against the run.
4. OL Stanley Bryant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
No professional football team is complete without a franchise left tackle and there isn’t one better in the CFL than Stanley Bryant.
He’ll be 35 by the time the 2021 season begins, but the East Carolina product is one of the most consistent players in the league. He hasn’t missed a game since joining the Blue Bombers as a free agent in 2015, dressing for 90 consecutive contests plus the playoffs.
The five-time CFL all-star was named the league’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2017 and 2018 and was only two votes away from winning again in 2019 against Chris Van Zeyl.
No player has ever won the award more than twice. If he has another great season, Bryant could make history in 2021, further cementing his status as a future inductee into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
3. DE Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
It’s been a long time since the 2019 Grey Cup, but it’s not hard to remember what Jefferson accomplished in that game.
The six-foot-seven, 248-pound defender recorded three sacks and two forced fumbles, helping his team upset the Ticats by a score of 33-12.
It was a remarkable finish to an award-winning season as Jefferson was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player after making 24 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, and one interception.
The 29-year-old is back under contract with Winnipeg for the upcoming season and will look to recreate his dominant performance in 2021.
2. REC Brandon Banks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Most great players leave their mark on the game in one way or another, but rarely do guys get a second act like the one Brandon Banks has enjoyed.
Upon entering the league, Banks became the CFL’s premier return specialist, dazzling fans and opponents with his speed and escapability. He became a legend in Hamilton when he returned two punts for touchdowns in the 2014 East Final and was the named the league’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player the following year.
June Jones took over from Kent Austin after the Ticats stumbled out of the gate in 2017. One of Jones’ first acts as head coach was to insert Banks into the starting lineup as a receiver. It changed the course of Banks’ career and catapulted him into another level.
Banks has caught 273 passes for 3,984 yards and 32 touchdowns over the past three seasons and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2019, becoming the first receiver to win the award since Geroy Simon in 2006.
1. QB Bo Levi Mitchell, Calgary Stampeders
Bo knows passing, Bo knows leadership, and Bo knows winning.
Mitchell has thrown for 27,937 yards, 169 touchdowns and 70 interceptions since signing with Calgary out of Eastern Washington in 2012. He’s only missed seven career games due to injury and, if he retired tomorrow, would probably still be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
His stats are impressive, but what really sets Mitchell apart is his winning. The two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player set a league record in 2018 when he reached his 60th career victory in just his 72nd start, breaking Ken Ploen’s mark of 78.
Winning is the barometer by which success in professional sports is measured. Football is the ultimate team sport, sure, but it’s hard to overstate the value of a great quarterback in the CFL.
3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.
7. RB Andrew Harris, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
8. QB Trevor Harris, Edmonton Football Team
9. LB Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
10. DE Charleston Hughes, Saskatchewan Roughriders
11. DB Delvin Breaux, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
12. REC Derel Walker, Edmonton Football Team
13. DT Dylan Wynn, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
14. REC Shaq Evans, Saskatchewan Roughriders
15. QB Jeremiah Masoli, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
16. RB William Stanback, Montreal Alouettes
17. QB Mike Reilly, B.C. Lions
18. LB Henoc Muamba, Montreal Alouettes
19. OL Brandon Revenberg, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
20. REC Greg Ellingson, Edmonton Football Team
21. OL Chris Van Zeyl, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
27. QB Cody Fajardo, Saskatchewan Roughriders
28. REC Eric Rogers, Calgary Stampeders
29. DT Almondo Sewell, Edmonton Football Team
30. SAM Patrick Levels, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
34. QB Vernon Adams Jr., Montreal Alouettes
35. DB Nick Marshall, Saskatchewan Roughriders
36. DB Aaron Grymes, B.C. Lions
37. LB Larry Dean, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
38. OL Ucambre Williams, Calgary Stampeders
39. DB Ciante Evans, Montreal Alouettes
40. K/P Justin Medlock, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
41. REC DaVaris Daniels, Toronto Argonauts
42. DT Micah Johnson, B.C. Lions
43. OL Shane Bergman, Calgary Stampeders
44. SAM Don Unamba, Ottawa Redblacks
45. DB Ed Gainey, Saskatchewan Roughriders
46. DB Tommie Campbell, Toronto Argonauts
47. LB Adam Bighill, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
48. REC DeVier Posey, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
49. DT Cleyon Laing, Ottawa Redblacks
50. OL Matt O’Donnell, Edmonton Football Team
51. REC Kyran Moore, Saskatchewan Roughriders
52. SAM Kenny Ladler, Free Agent
53. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
54. SAM Dexter McCoil, Free Agent
55. OL Sean McEwen, Calgary Stampeders
56. REC Eugene Lewis, Montreal Alouettes
57. DB Greg Reid, Montreal Alouettes
58. DT Mike Moore, Edmonton Football Team
59. OL Ryker Mathews, B.C. Lions
60. DB Tunde Adeleke, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
61. LB Jameer Thurman, Free Agent
62. QB Matt Nichols, Toronto Argonauts
63. DB Jamar Wall, Calgary Stampeders
64. DB Loucheiz Purifoy, Saskatchewan Roughriders
65. REC Lemar Durant, B.C. Lions
66. OL Brendon LaBatte, Saskatchewan Roughriders
67. OL SirVincent Rogers, Edmonton Football Team
68. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Free Agent
69. DB/RET Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
70. DB T.J. Lee, B.C. Lions
71. QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
72. SAM Anthony Cioffi, Free Agent
73. DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts
74. REC Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders
75. OL Darius Ciraco, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
76. REC Jalen Saunders, Free Agent
77. QB Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
78. REC Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions