Final 2021 CFL Draft top 25 prospect rankings

The 2021 CFL Draft kicks-off at 7:00 p.m. EST and it is bound to be an exciting one.

With eight eligible Canadians under NFL contracts and more returning to school thanks to the NCAA’s COVID-19 eligibility extension, there has never been a more talented draft class or a more chaotic one.

With two draft classes expected to be in training camp in 2021, some teams may value futures selections — those who won’t be available this year — very highly. Others will need help right now.

We’ll have you covered with live draft coverage throughout, both in print courtesy of John Hodge and on YouTube Live with Justin Dunk and JC Abbott.

In preparation for all the action, here is our final top 25 prospect ranking.

*denotes player returning to school for 2021
**denotes player under contract with NFL

1. Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon Ducks (Coquitlam, B.C.)**

Let’s not waste too much time at this spot because Holland is an absolute star at the safety position and he’s unlikely to be selected on Tuesday after being drafted in the second round, No. 36 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’ll be an impact player up high or in the slot at that level for many years to come.

2. Josh Palmer, REC, Tennessee Volunteers (Brampton, Ont.)**

Drafted in the third round, 77th overall in the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers, Palmer consistently produced despite terrible quarterback play and a less-than-ideal situation in Knoxville, Tennessee. He’s fast and physical, able to stretch the defence and win at the catch point. Among his victims last year was University of Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, making him one of just a handful of players to ever beat the ninth overall pick for a touchdown.

3. Benjamin St-Juste, DB,  Minnesota Golden Gophers (Montreal, Que.)**

Drafted in the third round, 74th overall by the Washington Football Team in the NFL Draft, St-Juste has a body that doesn’t come around very often. Six-foot-three, 203-pound cornerbacks who can move as well as he does are unicorns and St-Juste fits the more physical press coverage schemes of certain NFL teams better than he does the CFL.

4. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Sherwood Park, Alta.)**

After setting the NCAA world ablaze with a 2,000-yard season in 2019, Hubbard put forward a disappointing 2020 campaign and fell to the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round, 126th overall in the NFL Draft. The former Heisman Trophy candidate has some big holes to his game, but can be a major home run hitter at the next level.

5. Alaric Jackson, OL, Iowa Hawkeyes (Windsor, Ont.)**

A four-year starter for the Hawkeyes at left tackle, Jackson spent three seasons playing opposite 2020 NFL Draft first-round pick Tristan Wirfs. Average testing numbers and a mediocre Senior Bowl lowered his draft stock enough to go undrafted in the NFL Draft, signing with the Los Angeles Rams. Though many believe he could start at tackle in the CFL without issue.

6. Pier-Olivier Lestage, OL,  Montreal Carabins (Saint-Eustache, Que.)**

The six-foot-three, 305-pounder moves very well for his size, consistently reaching the second level with ease. He routinely dominated his opposition at the U Sports level and signed with the Seattle Seahawks due to his remarkable body composition and strong athleticism. With Seattle only having three draft picks this year, Lestage is a strong candidate to make an OL-needy team at centre and guard.

7. Amen Ogbongbemiga, LB, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Calgary, Alta.)**

Signed by the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent, Ogbongbemiga is a potential plug-and-play starter should he ever come to the CFL. He can run sideline to sideline and has juice as a blitzer, but lacks the elite athleticism of other small NFL linebackers and doesn’t have the physicality or bulk to dominate between the tackles.

8. Bruno Labelle, FB, Cincinnati Bearcats (Montreal, Que.)**

Signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, Labelle has been called the best fullback prospect since Rolly Lumbala. An absolute menace in the run game, Labelle has technique and physicality that rival some of the linemen in this class. Though he was used sparingly as a receiver in the NCAA, Labelle ran a 4.73 forty at his pro day and has traits to develop.

9. Alonzo Addae, DB, West Virginia Mountaineers (Pickering, Ont.)*

A transfer from New Hampshire, Addae lit it up as a second team All-Big 12 selection in his first year starting for the Mountaineers, dropping some crazy highlights along the way. Listed at five-foot-ten and 190 pounds, he boasts NFL production without elite NFL physical traits and could be a long-time starter at free safety in the CFL if you are willing to wait a year or two.

10. Mohamed Diallo, DT, Central Michigan Chippewas (Toronto, Ont.)*

Diallo was a one-man wrecking crew in 2020, showing the ability to rush the passer from the edge or the interior at six-foot-four and 305 pounds, which is remarkable given his size. He only started playing football after his final year of high school, which shows just how much development he may have left. Currently in the NCAA transfer portal, if he’s able to build on his Mid-American Conference production at a new school in 2021, it’s likely that he will be in an NFL training camp in 2022.

11. Daniel Joseph, DE, NC State Wolfpack (Brampton, Ont.)*

Originally a four-star recruit to Penn State, Joseph broke out after transferring to NC State as a senior, making ten tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in eleven games. The younger brother of former No. 1 overall CFL Draft pick Faith Ekakitie makes good use of his long arms to fight off blocks and has a relentless motor, enough that he could earn an NFL shot after returning to school in 2021.

12. Liam Dobson, OL, Texas State Bobcats (Ottawa, Ont.)*

Dobson has remarkable athleticism for his six-foot-three, 340-pound frame as he’s capable of dunking a basketball, enough to earn him a coveted spot on Bruce Feldman’s Top 50 Freaks List. He plays right until the whistle — and sometimes a little bit after it — which he hope endears him to NFL scouts after transferring from Maine to Texas State for his final year of eligibility in 2021.

13. Deane Leonard, DB, Ole Miss Rebels (Calgary, Alta.)*

As dominant a U Sports cover man as has existed in recent memory, COVID-19 opened the door for Leonard to jump to the Southeastern Conference in 2020 and he adjusted quickly to the highest level of college football. Returning to school, he could get himself on the NFL radar with a strong 2021 season thanks to his impressive speed and length.

14. Terrell Jana, REC, Virginia Cavaliers (Burnaby, B.C.)

Though he’s been a consistent producer throughout his college career, Jana had neither the top level athleticism or statistical dominance to garner an NFL contract. Most productive in the slot, Jana has a knack for finding the uncovered spaces and wins with intelligence. He’s deceptively sudden and extremely sure-handed — the type of player who could make an immediate impact in the CFL.

15. Nelson Lokombo, DB, Saskatchewan Huskies (Abbotsford, B.C.)

The reigning Presidents’ Trophy winner as U Sport’s best defensive player, Lokombo seems to play at a different speed than everyone else. With tremendous instincts and the ability to close in a heartbeat, Lokombo is the rare Canadian who could play almost any spot in the secondary.

16. Patrice Rene, DB, Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Ottawa, Ont.)*

At his best, Rene is a fluid cover corner with all the traits to be an elite ratio-breaker at the position. Unfortunately, he falls down the board due to the lasting concerns surrounding a torn ACL knee injury in 2019. Should he regain his form after transferring from North Carolina to Rutgers, this ranking could be offensively low.

17. Ben Hladik, LB, UBC Thunderbirds (Vernon, B.C.)

At six-foot-four and 239 pounds, Hladik put up 29 reps on the bench, ran a 4.66 forty, jumped 10-feet-seven-inches and showed off his bend with the devil’s three-cone with a scary 6.66 seconds. That athleticism translates to the field where he’s made 30.5 tackles for loss in 28 games played for the Thunderbirds and could see reps at both off-ball linebacker and defensive end.

18. Sage Doxtater, OL,  New Mexico State Aggies (Oneida Settlement, Ont.)*

Doxtater was originally a member of the 2020 CFL Draft class before receiving a medical redshirt due to a nagging shoulder injury. He’s the biggest offensive lineman in this year’s class at six-foot-seven and 350 pounds and was a four-year starter at left tackle with the Aggies. He’ll need to shed some weight to play the Canadian game and is viewed as a potential starter at tackle if he doesn’t garner serious NFL attention during his final college season.

19. Deshawn Stevens, DE, Maine Black Bears (Toronto, Ont.)*

The six-foot-two, 255-pound defender has extensive experience at middle linebacker and weak-side linebacker but projects as a CFL defensive end. A first team all-conference player and team captain at Maine, he recently entered the transfer portal as he looks to take on a higher level of competition in the fall in his pursuit of the NFL, but has said he’ll play in the CFL this year if a sufficient offer doesn’t arrive.

20. Jake Burt, FB, Boston College Eagles (Regina, Sask.)

A late addition to the draft when it was discovered that he was born in Regina, Burt spent the 2020 season on the practice roster of the New England Patriots, but was not retained after the year ended. He’s a tenacious blocker with some ability as a downfield passing threat, though some question if he is as athletic as he says he is.

21. Grant McDonald, LB, Calgary Dinos (South Delta, B.C.)

A former Football Championship Subdivision tight end at the University of Maine before transferring to join his brother in Calgary, McDonald is everything you could possibly want in a Canadian linebacker. A character guy and leader who flows well, sheds blocks and comes downhill with force.

22. Logan Bandy, OL, Calgary Dinos (Calgary, Alta.)

The two-time U Sports second team All-Canadian grew up a Stampeders season ticket holder attending games at McMahon Stadium. He played the 2019 season at 285 pounds but has built his frame to a lean 295, which is the type of growth scouts wanted to see. Consistent in pass protection, Bandy projects as a CFL guard who may be able to start at tackle in a pinch.

23. Bryce Bell, OL, Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (Waterloo, Ont.)

The six-foot-three, 305-pound blocker played right tackle on a Golden Hawks’ offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the Ontario University Athletics conference. He’ll move inside to play guard at the professional level and has been identified as a sleeper by some scouts.

24. Kyle Borsa, RB, Regina Rams (Regina, Sask.)

Suspended since 2018 due to testing positive for a banned substance, Borsa blew up the virtual National Combine with a blazing 4.46 forty-yard dash and 10-foot-two-inch broad jump. When he last played, Borsa looked like a future star with great burst, deceptive wiggle and the ability to contribute in the receiving game.

25. Deonté Glover, Shepherd Rams (Inwood, West Virginia)

A late addition to the draft after it was revealed he spent five years in Canada as a child, Glover was a man amongst boys at the NCAA Division II level, putting up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards as a senior. A compact runner at five-foot-nine and 216 pounds, his experience as both a kick returner and cover man are also major pluses.

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