Ranking all nine 2021 CFL Draft classes

Photo courtesy: Josh Schaefer, GetMyPhoto.ca/Huskie Athletics

The 2021 CFL Draft class has come and gone. I’ve already graded each individual selection, but now it’s time to rank the classes as a whole.

As I said while grading the picks, take these rankings with a heavy dose of salt. The CFL Draft is an unpredictable event in any year and a global pandemic has only exacerbated that fact.

Without further ado, here’s many ranking of all nine 2021 CFL Draft classes.

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Riders addressed an immediate need at defensive back by scooping up athletic cover man Nelson Lokombo at No. 2. They then employed a best-player-available approach with Terrell Jana at No. 17 and Logan Bandy at No. 38 being two of the best picks of the night.

Alain Cimankinda out of Carleton addressed Saskatchewan’s need along the defensive line, while Bruno Labelle could be the best blocking fullback in the CFL if he doesn’t make the Arizona Cardinals.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The selection of Jake Burt at No. 1 was a huge surprise, though I’m excited to see how Tommy Condell plans to use his six-foot-three, 245-pound frame. Deane Leonard will be an elite national defensive back if he ever comes north, though I believe he’ll get an NFL shot in 2022.

Nick Cross was taken too high for me at No. 9 considering he’s coming off a torn ACL, though there’s no doubting his talent. Mohamed Diallo could be the future star of this draft class — if he figures some things out, he could develop into the next Ted Laurent.

3. Calgary Stampeders

Amen Ogbongbemiga made a ton of sense at No. 8 despite being under contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. If he comes to the CFL relatively soon, he could be an Alex Singleton-type steal for a Calgary team that starts a Canadian middle linebacker.

Bryce Bell meets an immediate need along the offensive line, while Charlie Moore and Elliot Graham will shine on special teams. Chuba Hubbard was great value at No. 43 — if he ever signs a CFL contract, he could become a face of the franchise.

4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Liam Dobson and Patrice Rene made a lot of sense for a team with few needs on the roster. Both players transferred for the 2021 season where they’ll look to generate NFL interest at Texas State and Rutgers, respectively.

Winnipeg’s one area of need was at defensive back where they added Redha Kramdi and Robbie Lowes, both of whom will contribute on special teams. The wildcard is Regina speedster Kyle Borsa who could look to slot in at running back, receiver or as a return specialist.

5. Toronto Argonauts

Toronto added some immediate help along the offensive line in Peter Nicastro at No. 7 and a future in Sage Doxtater at No. 12. I like both picks as the Argos continue rebuilding an offensive line that struggled in 2019.

Hoyte and Hagerty have solid special teams value, while Nield bring size at slotback. Luiji Vilain could be a steal if he’s able to produce at Wake Forest following a transfer from Michigan. Considering they entered the draft with no pressing needs, the Argos were wise to take three futures.

6. Ottawa Redblacks

The selections of Deshawn Stevens at No. 6 and Alonzo Addae at No. 13 were strong, especially considering the former may turn pro in 2021. Both will add some much-needed top-end talent to Ottawa’s defence if and when they report to the CFL.

Drafting Jake Julien in the fourth round made sense considering the Redblacks field an American punter. It’s a strong class, but I felt Ottawa should have added a much-needed receiver and one or two fewer futures. As it stands, only Connor Berglof will be in training camp in 2021.

7. B.C. Lions

Daniel Joseph and Alaric Jackson could be elite linemen in the CFL, though there’s no guarantee either will ever play in the league. I was surprised how much risk the Lions took on considering they had immediate needs at defensive back and along the offensive line.

The real star of this class is Ben Hladik who will shine on special teams while developing into a potential starter at linebacker or defensive end. This could still end up being a great class if Joseph and Jackson report in the near future, but I think B.C. should have played things a little more safely.

8. Montreal Alouettes

Montreal’s draft class hinges largely on the future of offensive lineman Pier-Olivier Lestage, who recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. If he sticks in the NFL — and there’s a relatively strong chance he will — the Alouettes won’t have much to show for this year considering they didn’t have a first-round pick.

Christopher Fournier was a good value pick in the third round out of Lehigh — especially if he signs right away — while Ethan Makonzo provided some nice local flavour.

9. Edmonton Football Team

Edmonton selected defensive tackle Cole Nelson at No. 5 overall, which was a big reach. I like his size and athleticism, but the Alberta product would have been available in round four or five. I also didn’t love the selection of Peter Kourtis at No. 41 considering local star Chuba Hubbard was still on the board.

I loved the selection of linebacker Grant McDonald in the second round, while receiver Dominic Johnson has intriguing potential. Still, this class lacks the impact I was expecting from Edmonton.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.