3DownNation’s top 25 ranked 2022 CFL Draft prospects

Courtesy: AP Photo/Gail Burton

The 2022 CFL Draft is set to begin on Tuesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. EST, with the Edmonton Elks holding the first overall selection.

Viewed as a weaker draft overall due to the lasting effects of the COVID pandemic, 74 Canadians will still get a chance to live out their lifelong dream of becoming a professional football player. As always, 3DownNation will have you covered with extensive live coverage of the event, both in print courtesy of John Hodge and on YouTube Live with Justin Dunk and JC Abbott.

To get you ready for draft day, we’ve already ranked the prospects at every position. Now we’ve put them together in our final top 25 ranking.

Top 25 prospects

Courtesy: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

1. John Metchie III, REC, University of Alabama (Brampton, Ont.)

The two-time Jon Cornish Trophy winner as the top Canadian player in the NCAA is a crisp route runner with a physical edge from the slot or outside. That’s why the Houston Texans selected him 44th overall in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, making it unlikely Metchie III ever comes to the CFL.

2. Jesse Luketa, LB/DE, Penn State University (Ottawa, Ont.)

Luketa’s CFL stock is on the rise after he fell to the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, where the Arizona Cardinals selected him 256th overall. A physical run defender on the edge, his lack of pass rush bend decreased his NFL value and could eventually see him come north to a team willing to wait.

3. Tyrell Richards, LB/DE, Syracuse University (Brampton, Ont.)

An explosive athlete at six-foot-three and 232 pounds, Richards has the positional versatility to play sideline to sideline at linebacker or rush off the edge like he did most of the time in the NCAA. He is still raw after missing his senior season due to an off-the-field situation, but brings instant special teams value and massive upside.

4. Tre Ford, QB, University of Waterloo (Niagara Falls, Ont.)

The reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner as the top player in U Sports has a rookie mini-camp invitation from the Baltimore Ravens, but went unsigned by the NFL despite his 4.45 speed. Ford lacks an ideal quarterback frame, but his generational athleticism and ability to create outside the pocket makes him a potential ratio-breaker in the right offence.

5. Enock Makonzo, DB, Coastal Carolina University (Lachine, Que.)

The do-it-all safety for the Chanticleers made his living covering the slot and causing disruptions in the run game with his aggressive, hair-on-fire style. Makonzo could be a rare Canadian fit at strong-side linebacker, but some teams will have questions about his thinner frame and range to play deep coverage.

Photo courtesy: Bryant Athletics

6. Daniel Adeboboye, RB, Bryant University (Toronto, Ont.)

A tandem back at Bryant, Adeboboye has a solid five-foot-nine, 218-pound frame and all the athletic measurables to be able to translate to the CFL. He’s a no-nonsense slasher who should be able to pick up chunk yardage behind a solid offensive line and is capable both in pass protection and receiving out of the backfield.

7. Deionte Knight, DL, Western University (Ajax, Ont.)

The J.P. Metras Trophy winner as Canada’s top university lineman, Knight has a pair of NFL rookie mini-camp invites, but saw his stock dip somewhat despite a strong East-West Shrine Bowl showing. He isn’t a top tier tester and lacks length, but has proved to be a high-effort penetrator with a quick enough get-off to rush from outside at 278 pounds.

8. Tyrell Ford, DB, University of Waterloo (Niagara Falls, Ont.)

Tyrell one-upped his twin brother by accepting two NFL rookie mini-camp invites and is every bit the dynamic athlete. While he lacks polished technique as a cornerback, Ford has 4.42 speed and easy explosiveness that can be developed into a field-side starter or converted to safety. The All-Canadian should be able to chip in as a returner as well.

9. Samuel Emilus, REC, Louisiana Tech University (Montreal, Que.)

A transfer from the University of Massachusetts, Emilus has remained consistent throughout his NCAA career despite poor quarterbacking, but has never risen to star status. He’s a sudden athlete with impressive testing measurables and the short area quickness to win in the right role.

10. Zack Pelehos, OL, University of Ottawa (Gananoque, Ont.)

Pelehos will require some development as he transitions to the professional level, but the Gee-Gees’ team MVP is smooth like butter and a special run blocker in space. While he likely transitions to guard in the CFL, the six-foot-five, 296-pounder has quick enough feet to pinch hit at tackle.

Photo courtesy: Calgary Dinos

11. Jalen Philpot, REC, University of Calgary (Delta, B.C.)

Slightly built but explosive in and out of breaks, Philpot has the ability to separate as a route runner at the CFL level in the short and intermediate area. The question is whether he can handle the game’s physicality and provide any value on special teams working towards a starter job.

12. Tyson Philpot, REC, University of Calgary (Delta, B.C.)

Much the same as his brother, Tyson is marginally faster but not quite as sudden. He compensates in that area with a better understanding of where to settle against zone coverage. After earning the Canada West Conference MVP last season, there is a role for him in the CFL, but neither brother possesses the athletic traits to suggest they’ll be the same calibre of game-breaker they were in U Sports.

13. Anthony Federico, DE, Queen’s University (Niagara Falls, Ont.)

A long-armed defensive end with good get-off and bend, Federico has a predictable pass rush tool box that served him well at the U Sports level. He will need to add to that arsenal before being considered a potential starter in the CFL, but should be a force on special teams early in his career.

14. Josiah Schakel, LB, University of Alberta (Sherwood Park, Alta.)

Schakel took home the President’s Trophy last season as the country’s top defensive player and is everything you want in a weak-side linebacker. Instinctual and explosive, he packs a real punch as a tackler at six-foot and 221 pounds, while being experienced in coverage from his time as a halfback.

15. Nathan Cherry, DL, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Sask.)

A high motor player inside, Cherry is bull strong and flashes the ability to win with quick and violent hands. One of the more underrated players in this draft, the 271-pounder will be highly coveted.

Photo courtesy: Laval Rouge et Or

16. Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, OL, Université Laval (Quebec City, Que.)

A true centre with good size at six-foot-four and 301 pounds, Hogan-Saindon has all the lateral quickness you want from the position while also being among the draft’s strongest players. The Laval product has some rough edges to his game, but could be ready to contribute sooner than people think.

17. Noah Zerr, OL, University of Saskatchewan (Langenburg, Sask.)

The draft’s most pro-ready offensive lineman, Zerr was a mauler in the Huskies run game at six-foot-six and 305 pounds. His athletic limitations will force him to move inside to guard where he could find success in the right system, but his stiffness and slow feet limit his ceiling.

18. Josh Archibald, DL, McGill University (Montreal, Que.)

Limited by weight gain and McGill’s defensive scheme in the past, a slimmed down Archibald has more to give as a pass rusher at the next level. At 246 pounds, he possesses a second gear and the forethought to set up defenders that should serve him well in the CFL.

19. Gregor MacKellar, OL, St. Francis Xavier University (Timberlea, N.S.)

A transfer from Rice University, MacKellar was physically dominant against Atlantic University Sport Conference competition, but also developed some bad habits. At six-foot-three and 322 pounds, he is a worthy project with a nasty edge.

20. Adrian Greene, DB, Saint Mary’s University (Scarborough, Ont.)

A surprise riser out of the Regional Combine circuit, Greene is a special mover at corner and showed lock down ability against top receivers. That has led some to wonder how he wasn’t more consistently dominant in the Atlantic University Sport Conference with just one career interception to his credit.

Photo courtesy: Nina Barroso/Alberta Golden Bears

21. Rodeem Brown, OL, University of Alberta (Halifax, N.S.)

At six-foot and 280 pounds, Brown will be a hard sell for some as an undersized centre. However, he breaks the mold with his physicality and an anchor that embarrassed just about every top defender in this class at some point or another. Brown will be returning to school next year, which should affect his stock.

22. Ryder Varga, LB, University of Regina (Regina, Sask.)

Another top prospect returning for his final U Sports season, Varga has a great first step and all the makings of a dynamic special teams player. At six-foot-one and 229 pounds, he looked as comfortable blitzing off the edge as any true d-lineman in this class.

23. Riley Pickett, DE, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Sask.)

A devastating power rusher and sound run defender, Pickett seemed to show up for the Huskies in their biggest moments. At 249 pounds, he has the versatility to play on the edge or move inside with a chance to be a size mismatch on special teams.

24. Zack Fry, OL, Western University (London, Ont.)

At six-foot-five and 304 pounds, Fry has all the size and quickness to be a successful CFL lineman, but has serious red flags surrounding his weight room commitment and knee bend.

25. Woodly Appolon, LB, Tuskegee University (Montreal, Que.)

Originally a safety at Northern Illinois University, Appolon transferred to NCAA Division II Tuskegee to play linebacker beside his twin brother. His length and range for the position make him a particularly intriguing prospect.