How 3DownNation contributors voted for TSN’s 2022 top 50 CFL players list

Photo courtesy: Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

3DownNation contributors JC Abbott and John Hodge filled out ballots for TSN’s top 50 CFL players list. Below we’ve broken down the final list and compared it to the ballots cast by Abbott and Hodge.

Please note that, despite the list being 50 players long, ballots only contain 40 spots. As such, at least 10 players who made the final list could not have appeared on the ballots below.

50. Henoc Muamba, LB, Toronto Argonauts*

Abbott’s ranking — 39: Muamba was a player I re-worked the bottom of my ballot to fit and his place at the bottom of the ranking seems to suggest others did the same.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Muamba is a heck of a player but I wasn’t able to fit him on my ballot. Other linebackers that received consideration without being ranked included Chris Ackie, Jordan Williams, and Bo Lokombo.

49. Nic Demski, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers*

Abbott’s ranking — NR: 2021 was a poor year for Canadian receivers, but I wasn’t about to shoe-horn Demski into my rankings just because of his passport. He’s a versatile big-play threat, but plenty of unranked receivers are more dangerous.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Demski was the top receiver I wasn’t able to fit on my ballot. He’s developed into the best Canadian receiver in the CFL.

48. Avery Williams, LB, Ottawa Redblacks

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Production is situational at the middle linebacker position and even more so on a bad team. I just don’t see Williams as an elite difference-maker.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: The statistics are impressive but I’ve never thought of Avery Williams as a game-changer.

47. Jumal Rolle, DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Abbott’s ranking — 19: It seems mind-boggling to me that there are people in the league who didn’t have an all-star-calibre lockdown cornerback in their top 40.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Sorry, JC. I guess I was one of them.

46. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, QB, Toronto Argonauts

Abbott’s ranking — NR: A limited number of spots means there is no space for an average journeyman quarterback who might not keep his job through the end of the year.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Bethel-Thompson wasn’t consistent enough last year to be in the top 50.

45. Tre Roberson, DB, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — 13: I’m sorry, have we completely forgotten how dominant Roberson was before he left for the NFL? Nothing he showed me in four games last year would indicate that has changed.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Frankly, I thought Roberson looked rusty after coming back from the NFL last season.

44. Tunde Adeleke, DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats*

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Leaving Adeleke off was the most agonizing choice on my ballot and frankly only happened in order to meet positional requirements. He deserves to be on this list.

Hodge’s ranking — 34: There are people around the CFL who will tell you that Tunde Adeleke is the best Canadian player in the league.

43. Rene Paredes, K, Calgary Stampeders*

Abbott’s ranking — NR: One kicker was required to be on your ballot and I chose punter Richie Leone as mine. Paredes would have been my second choice.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Paredes is great but I opted to vote for Boris Bede — who performs all three kicking jobs for Toronto — instead.

42. Derrick Moncrief, LB, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Abbott’s ranking — 25: Moncrief’s size and physicality set him apart amongst strong-side linebackers and I valued him higher than consensus as a result.

Hodge’s ranking — 13: He didn’t flash often with Edmonton last year, but Moncrief has a deadly combination of size, speed, and skill.

41. T.J. Lee, DB, B.C. Lions

Abbott’s ranking — 32: In many ways, T.J. Lee defines what has been an extremely talented B.C. Lions’ secondary the last few years. The team would be lost without him.

Hodge’s ranking — 26: Lee is somehow still underrated after seven years in the league.

40. Kamar Jorden, REC, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Jorden was the odd one out on a list of highly talented pass-catchers. He would have made my top 50, but just missed the cut for my 40-player ballot.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Jorden’s great but he was still behind two other receivers who didn’t make my ballot.

39. James Wilder Jr., RB, Edmonton Elks

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Due to how readily available talent is at the position, I was only ever going to put the minimum of three running backs on my list. Despite a great season, Wilder didn’t make the cut.

Hodge’s ranking — 37: Wilder was one of few bright spots in Edmonton last year and it looks like I had him close to the perfect spot.

38. Loucheiz Purifoy, DB, B.C. Lions

Abbott’s ranking — 16: For my money, Purifoy may be the most versatile defensive weapon in the CFL. He can play any position in the secondary or strong-side linebacker at an elite level.

Hodge’s ranking — 7: My fellow voters are sleeping on Loucheiz Purifoy. When it comes to cover skills, physicality and return ability, Purifoy is the best defensive back in the league.

37. Jordan Williams, LB, B.C. Lions*

Abbott’s ranking — 30: Williams is simply a special athlete for the linebacker position and is only going to get better following his award-winning rookie season.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: I’m a little leery of middle linebackers who rack up tackles as part of underwhelming defences, but there’s no denying that Williams was great last year.

36. Chris Van Zeyl, OL, Hamilton Tiger-Cats*

Abbott’s ranking — NR: It pains me to say, but I left Van Zeyl off my ballot in favour of another lineman. One of my favourite linemen to watch, I no longer trust his durability enough to keep him on my list.

Hodge’s ranking — 35: He needs to stay healthy, but the future Hall of Famer is still great when he’s on the field.

35. Jameer Thurman, LB, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Another player who would have made my top 50, I chose to include Muamba on my ballot over Thurman. I don’t think either is a bad choice.

Hodge’s ranking — 25: The 27-year-old had a very nice season after returning from a stint in the NFL.

34. Deatrick Nichols, DB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 12: I thought Nichols emerged last season as the league’s best defensive back and a dark horse candidate for Most Outstanding Defensive Player. I’m shocked more voters didn’t feel the same.

Hodge’s ranking — 17: I don’t care that Nichols was a first-year player last year — he was the best boundary halfback in the CFL.

33. Bo Lokombo, LB, B.C. Lions*

Abbott’s ranking — 21: Lokombo was so good in so many areas for the Lions last year, I don’t think winning Most Outstanding Canadian even did it justice.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: I took Lokombo off my ballot at 39 to add Darnell Sankey. Maybe I should have found a way to keep him — he was excellent last year.

32. Dylan Wynn, DT, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Abbott’s ranking — 37: I usually rank Wynn much higher, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by his body of work last year. In retrospect, I may have been too harsh.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Wynn is still a great player but I thought he took a bit of a step back last year. He was my next-ranked defensive lineman after my ballot was full.

31. Shawn Oakman, DT, Toronto Argonauts

Abbott’s ranking — 14: With zero threat off the edge to help him, Oakman took over games last season. He is on the cusp of top 10 status in my mind.

Hodge’s ranking — 16: Shawn Oakman is the closest thing I’ve seen to Doug Brown since Doug Brown.

30. Reggie Begelton, REC, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — 4: In three appearances last year, Begelton went over 100 yards twice. He’s still the dominant player he was in 2019 and this ranking is plain disrespectful.

Hodge’s ranking — 15: Begelton played two meaningful games last year and reached 100 yards both times. Having him outside the top 20 is just plain wrong.

29. Brandon Alexander, DB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — NR: There is no arguing with Alexander’s value to the Bombers’ defence, but he just missed my list in favour of players with more positional versatility.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Alexander has established himself as the league’s best safety. It’s nice to see him make the list even if he didn’t make my ballot.

28. Cariel Brooks, DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Abbott’s ranking — 34: Brooks had an exceptional season at halfback for the Ticats and tied for the league lead in interceptions, more than earning his spot on this list.

Hodge’s ranking — 23: Boundary halfback is a demanding position and Brooks plays it as well as anyone in the CFL.

27. Mike Rose, DT, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — 6: Few things are more disruptive than a penetrating defensive tackle and Mike Rose is the best in the CFL right now.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: In hindsight, I probably should have found room for Rose on my ballot. He’s a great player, though he took too many penalties in 2021.

26. Dane Evans, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Abbott’s ranking — NR: Evans is now the undisputed starter in Hamilton but he has not yet proven himself to be a top 50 player, no matter how good he was in the East Final.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Evans was my next-ranked quarterback when I ran out of spots on my ballot. He needs to take a step this year now that he’s the face of the franchise in Hamilton.

25. Vernon Adams Jr., QB, Montreal Alouettes

Abbott’s ranking — NR: If you rank based on positional value, every CFL quarterback should make the top 50. When you try to strike a balance with other criteria, Adams has simply been too erratic to make my ballot.

Hodge’s ranking — 32: Adams is one of the most fun players to watch in the CFL but he needs to get more consistent before I put him in the top 30. This is a make-or-break year for the 29-year-old.

24. Sean McEwen, OL, Calgary Stampeders*

Abbott’s ranking — 36: McEwen is unquestionably an elite centre in the CFL, though I think he is sometimes slightly overhyped based on reputation.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: McEwen was my next-ranked offensive lineman when I ran out of spots on my ballots. He needs to play a little heavier.

23. Darnell Sankey, LB, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Abbott’s ranking — 35: Leading the league in tackles last year has put Sankey in the elite tier of players, but the nature of his position means some of that impressive stat line is manufactured.

Hodge’s ranking — 39: I want to see Sankey be a little more effective in space this year, but it’s nice to see such a young player gets props on this list.

22. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Ottawa Redblacks

Abbott’s ranking — 27: Masoli was exceptional for stretches last season and has routinely proven himself to be a top quarterback. Don’t be surprised if he rises up this list after his first season in Ottawa.

Hodge’s ranking — 20: It’s clear that the 33-year-old still has gas in the tank. In my opinion, Masoli is the best quarterback in the East Division.

21. Jermarcus Hardrick, OL, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 23: It is reassuring to know that Top 50 voters have thrown out the old narrative around left versus right tackles and simply acknowledge that Hardrick is one of the league’s best blockers.

Hodge’s ranking — 30: I thought Hardrick was going to be in tough to make this list because he’s often overshadowed by Stanley Bryant. I’m glad to see that I was wrong.

20. Jake Wieneke, REC, Montreal Alouettes

Abbott’s ranking — 26: I’ve been high on “Touchdown Jake” since his days at South Dakota State and he’s proven me right by becoming a game-breaking slotback.

Hodge’s ranking — 33: Football is all about scoring touchdowns at the end of the day and Wieneke is dominant in the red zone.

19. Brandon Revenberg, OL, Hamilton Tiger-Cats*

Abbott’s ranking — 28: The Ticats’ offensive line struggled last season and took some of the shine off Revenberg, but he’s still the CFL’s best guard.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: I’ve banged the table for Revenberg in the past but I didn’t think he was elite in 2021. He was the sixth interior offensive lineman on my shortlist.

18. Andrew Harris, RB, Toronto Argonauts*

Abbott’s ranking — 40: Andrew Harris was an obligatory inclusion on the list, but this feels way too high for a 35-year-old running back who is going to have to survive without the CFL’s best offensive line for the first time in years.

Hodge’s ranking — 18: It looks like I had the veteran running back in the perfect spot. Despite his advanced age, I think Harris is still going to be productive this season.

17. D’haquille Williams, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Abbott’s ranking — 5: Duke has everything you want in a number one receiver and the fact he is still this low feels insane to me.

Hodge’s ranking — 8: There is no better pure deep-ball target in the CFL than Williams. I wonder how many voters cast their ballots forgetting that Duke joined the Riders so late last year.

16. Cody Fajardo, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Abbott’s ranking — 15: For all the flack we in the media give Fajardo, it is still difficult to name a current CFL quarterback you’d rather have guiding your franchise.

Hodge’s ranking — 27: Fajardo needs to keep a more level head and start connecting on a higher percentage of deep throws if he wants to crack the top ten on this list next year.

15. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — 17: Carey has firmly entered the upper echelon of CFL running backs and even I can’t argue against his inclusion in the top 20.

Hodge’s ranking — 21: He’s a solid, well-rounded running back but I’m not ready to put Carey in the top 20 just yet.

14. Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Calgary Stampeders

Abbott’s ranking — 38: I ensured Mitchell had a spot on my ballot out of an abundance of respect for his career but ask yourself this: has he really looked like a top 50 player at any point in the last two seasons?

Hodge’s ranking — 10: Am I too high on Bo Levi Mitchell? In hindsight, I think I am. I’d like the record to show that I completed my ballot before he threw two interceptions in the preseason.

13. A.C. Leonard, DE, Saskatchewan Roughrider

Abbott’s ranking — 8: We all know Leonard is a sack master but I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for his schematic versatility, which can only be matched by Willie Jefferson.

Hodge’s ranking — 9: Leonard is the best pass-rusher in the CFL not playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

12. Ja’Gared Davis, DE, Toronto Argonauts

Abbott’s ranking — 20: Looking back on my ballot, this is the one I cringe over. Ja’Gared Davis should have been higher on my list and the other voters got it right here.

Hodge’s ranking — 28: Davis was dominant in the playoffs but I expected to see more from him during the regular season in 2021.

11. Simoni Lawrence, LB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Abbott’s ranking — 22: Lawrence continues to make plays all over the football field and deserves to be on this list. I simply value pass rushers and defensive backs higher than linebackers.

Hodge’s ranking — 11: It looks like my fellow voters agreed with my ranking of this three-time CFL all-star.

10. Eugene Lewis, REC, Montreal Alouettes

Abbott’s ranking — 29: Objectively, I may be too low on Lewis. Alas, sorting out how to rank the league’s elite receivers was the most difficult part of this process.

Hodge’s ranking — 19: The 29-year-old is one of the league’s most well-rounded receivers and it’s nice to see him not flying under the radar anymore.

9. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions

Abbott’s ranking — 11: A big-play threat in multiple areas, Whitehead is the league’s most exciting player and is ranked right where he should be.

Hodge’s ranking — 4: There is no greater threat to score from anywhere on the field in the CFL than this explosive, versatile speedster.

8. Bryan Burnham, REC, B.C. Lions

Abbott’s ranking — 24: You won’t find a bigger Burnham fan than me but while he’s still elite, I thought he slowed down a bit last year.

Hodge’s ranking — NR: Call me crazy, but I think Burnham only produced at a high level last season because Lucky Whitehead drew coverage elsewhere.

7. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 10: Jeffcoat is a workhorse off the edge and more than deserving of a top 10 ranking.

Hodge’s ranking — 2: Call me crazy, but I actually think Jeffcoat is better than his teammate and fellow pass-rusher Willie Jefferson.

6. Kenny Lawler, REC, Edmonton Elks

Abbott’s ranking — 18: I saw firsthand what Lawler is capable of when he ripped apart the Lions last year, but I don’t know if he is really the CFL’s top receiver outside of the league’s top offence. We’ll find out this year.

Hodge’s ranking — 3: There wasn’t a receiver who made contested catches as routinely as Kenny Lawler did over the course of last season.

5. Stanley Bryant, OL, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 2: Three-time Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. Future Hall of Famer. Stanley Bryant is a living legend in the trenches and deserves a ranking that acknowledges him as such.

Hodge’s ranking — 5: It looks like I had the future Hall of Famer in the perfect spot. Next!

4. Adam Bighill, LB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 9: Being the heartbeat of the Winnipeg defence and the reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player guaranteed Bighill a spot in my top 10, I simply ranked a few big-play positions a little higher.

Hodge’s ranking — 14: Bighill had an excellent bounce-back season in 2021 after a slight down year in 2019. His leadership is just as valuable as what he does on the field.

3. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes

Abbott’s ranking — 7: It pains me to rank a running back as highly as I did Stanback, but he truly is head and shoulders above the rest of the CFL.

Hodge’s ranking — 12: The two-time CFL all-star is the league’s best pure runner, but he needs to stop dropping passes to crack my top ten.

2. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 3: Critics will argue correctly that Jefferson is far from the league’s most consistent defensive player, but that matters a lot less when you are a physical freak who can do things no one else can.

Hodge’s ranking — 6: Jefferson is one of few defensive players in the CFL who can truly take over a football game. The only thing keeping him out of my top five is his slight lack of consistency.

1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Abbott’s ranking — 1: Zach Collaros was the MOP and deserved it. In one of the shakiest eras for CFL quarterbacking in recent memory, no one else could be ranked on top.

Hodge’s ranking — 1: You can’t argue against having the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup MVP in the No. 1 spot. This was a no-brainer.

3DownNation ranked players who missed the Top 50

Abbott: David Beard, OL, Edmonton Elks (33); Richie Leone, P, Ottawa Redblacks (31).

Hodge: David Beard, OL, Edmonton Elks (22); Steven Richardson, DL, B.C. Lions (24); Jake Ceresna, DL, Edmonton Elks (29); Shaq Richardson, DB, Toronto Argonauts (31); Trevor Harris, QB, Montreal Alouettes (36); Greg Ellingson, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (38); Boris Bede, K/P, Toronto Argonauts (40).