Monday Mailbag: Canadian NFL draft picks, single-game betting & will XFL affect the CFL Draft?

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

You can submit a question via email ([email protected]) or direct message on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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We’ve answered a handful of questions below. If your question didn’t get picked, don’t panic — we’ll save it to potentially answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.

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Benjamin St Juste was selected 74th in the 2021 NFL Draft and prior to going to the NCAA played for the Spartiates football team at CEGEP Vieux Montréal. A team head coached by Steve Alexandre, an undrafted walk-on from the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees who played two years with the Tiger-Cats. Steve would never have had this level of football experience to share with this team if it was not for the ratio.

Prior to CEGEP, Benjamin played at high school Curé Labelle in Laval, Quebec. There are a number of former CFLers who continue to support the high school program, most of whom definitely benefited from the ratio.

Take nothing away from St-Juste, he is an amazing athlete and will inspire generations to come, but to put up combine numbers like he did and have the technique he showed requires coaching, from multiple coaches and people of influence, with serious football teams and facilities.

He didn’t get selected just on “freakish” physical attributes. Even prior to the draft, he didn’t make it to the NCAA on pure physical attributes. He is part of the generation of more skilled football players in this country and he made it surrounded by the support of that key section of the pyramid of amateur football in Canada, CFLers who themselves benefited from the ratio.

-Denis in Montreal

Thanks for the message, Denis. You do a great job of illustrating how the CFL’s ratio helps support amateur football in Canada, ensuring that our country will produce elite players for generations to come.

Four Canadians were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and another four were signed as undrafted free agents. The level of talent in this country is steadily improving and the ratio plays an undeniable role in that.

I see a lot of Canadians garnering attention from the NFL next year depending on who declares, including: John Metchie III, Alabama; Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan; Dontae Bull, Fresno State; Zack Fry, Western; Daniel Joseph, North Carolina State; Jesse Luketa, Penn State; Deane Leonard, Ole Miss; Patrice Rene, Rutgers; Alonzo Addae, West Virginia; and Enock Makonzo, Coastal Carolina.

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With all the uncertainty regarding the XFL and potential merger possibly affecting the ratio (although who really knows), do you think this will change the strategy for teams at the draft? Will teams opt for more picks that can help right away and stay away from NCAA players returning to school or other futures picks? Thanks and keep up the great work, fellas!

-Jamie

Great question, Jamie. Thanks for submitting it. I appreciate any excuse to talk about the CFL Draft.

I think that a potential merger with the XFL could actually have the opposite effect: futures picks will have more value. Here’s why.

If the CFL and XFL merge, the general consensus is that the ratio will be reduced. Teams are currently required to dress 21 nationals with a minimum of seven starters; for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that teams will need to dress 10 and start three if a merger takes place.

With so few Canadians on the roster, a lot of depth players and special teamers no longer have much value. Many late-round draft picks don’t survive cutdown day with 21 roster spots available. If that number is cut in half, they have almost no chance of making the team.

If the ratio was going to be reduced in a year or two, I would be more willing to draft futures because they would all make my roster if/when they signed. Undrafted NFL free agent signings like Amen Ogbongbemiga, Pier-Olivier Lestage, Bruno Labelle, and Alaric Jackson all project as top-tier nationals in the CFL and I’d want as many of those guys in the pipeline as possible.

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Can you tell us more about the motion going through the various levels of government with regards to single-game betting? Is it as simple as pick the winner of a game and cover the spread or is there more to it? The biggest question is how much of a financial boon might it be to sports teams in general, and more specifically to CFL teams?

Thanks!

-Dean Rushka

Excellent question, Dean. Any Canadian adult can currently bet on sports legally provided they do so through a government-regulated channel.

These channels require bettors to place wagers on multiple games and pay out accordingly: if you hit every bet, you win big; if you miss any, you lose them all. Legalizing single-game sports betting does away with this requirement — if there’s only one game you want to bet on, you can do that.

There’s a lot for a league like the CFL to gain from single-game sports betting. Lots of online gambling entities that currently operate in our country do so at varying degrees of legality. Not every person feels comfortable giving off-shore companies their financial information and lots of banks won’t accept transfers to or from these organizations.

The legalization and regulation of the industry as a whole will make it significantly easier for hesitant bettors to register with companies and make cash deposits and withdrawals. This is a win-win: bettors get a more user-friendly experience, while the government is able to tax the revenue appropriately.

Betting on game lines is fun, but wagering on unique props can be even better. Will Eric Rogers catch a touchdown pass against Hamilton? How many carries will Andrew Harris have against Saskatchewan? These are the types of things you will soon be able to bet on from your couch or your seat at the stadium.

There’s also a good chance that we’re going to hear television personalities talk about these lines live on the air. This is a game-changer — hearing influential analysts promote gambling should result in a major influx of new bettors.

This is excellent news for all sports leagues including the CFL. If you wager on how many sacks Charleston Hughes will record in the second half, you’re going to watch until the final snap of the game even if it’s a blowout. Placing bets raises interest in the product and people like to bet on football more than any other sport in the world.

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