2023 CFL Draft position rankings: running backs and fullbacks

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Barry Reeger

The 2023 CFL Draft is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET and, as always, 3DownNation has you covered with all the in-depth analysis.

Over the next week, we’ll be unveiling our top prospects at every position group, culminating in our pre-draft top 25 ranking. Here we’ll begin with the offensive backfield. Make sure to come back tomorrow when we rank the receivers.

This year’s running back class is loaded with productive college players, but how their traits will translate to the next level is an open question. Unfortunately for the three-down league, the best of the bunch might be out of their reach.

Running backs

1. Chase Brown, University of Illinois (London, Ont.)

The winner of the Jon Cornish Trophy as Canada’s top NCAA player, Brown amassed 1,643 rushing yards as a senior to earn second-team All-American status. The Doak Walker Award finalist is not expected to play in the CFL anytime soon, as he is projected to be a fourth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft due to his speed and ability to generate yards after contact.

2. Thomas Bertrand-Hudon, Delaware State University (Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que.)

Though his role decreased during his collegiate career, Bertrand-Hudon is a solid one-cut, Zone back who runs behind his pads with good vision and patience. At five-foot-11 and 227 pounds, he has the frame and physicality to convert to fullback full-time, though his impressive change of direction ability suggests he’ll have value in a hybrid role, a la Ante Milanovic-Litre.

Photo courtesy: Montreal Carabins (@carabins)

3. Bertrand Beaulieu, Université de Montréal (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

Checking in at a whopping six-foot-one, 237 pounds, Beaulieu is a high-cut, upright runner with impressive power in his legs. Though his size is reminiscent of NFL star Derrick Henry, he lacks breakaway speed and does not lower his shoulder as consistently as you would like, with enough athletic limitations to prevent him from being a primary ball carrier at the next level.

4. Amlicar Polk, University of Ottawa (Hamilton, Ont.)

Buried behind Elks’ draft pick J.P. Cimankinda on the Gee-Gees’ depth chart, Polk served as a change of pace back and showed off solid straight-line speed. His five-foot-nine, 198-pound frame will be a concern for teams but his 25 bench press reps at the Invitational Combine prove he’s impressively strong and he’s amassed 22 special teams tackles in his collegiate career despite his smaller stature.

5. Keon Edwards, Western University (Toronto, Ont.)

The OUA’s MVP for the 2022 season has had a prolific career behind a bruising Western offensive line but his severe athletic limitations will scare off most CFL teams. Rarely touched before the second level in college, he’ll need to prove that his exceptional vision is enough of a compensating trait to merit selection or put his 230-pound frame to work on special teams.

Photo courtesy: Seyran Mammadov/Varsity Blues Athletics

6. Adam Williams, University of Toronto (Oshawa, Ont.)

Though he is slightly more explosive than Edwards, Williams is still a limited athlete and has been less productive at the collegiate level. The five-foot-10, 224-pound back shows good contact balance as a downhill runner but does not have the top-end speed to excel as a pro.

7. Juwan Jeffrey, University of Guelph (Brampton, Ont.)

A slight framed gadget player who does most of his work out of the slot, Jeffrey possesses some explosive burst but will struggle to translate to the next level. He has contributed on special teams in the past but currently weighs just 180 pounds.

8. Avery McCuaig, Southern Oregon University (Calgary, Alta.)

A one-cut back with limited burst, McCuaig spent just one season in the NAIA and did not play last season. At five-foot-10 and 212 pounds, he is a decently physical ball carrier but lacks meaningful production.


Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

1. David Dallaire, Université Laval (Saint-Georges, Que.)

A two-time RSEQ all-star as a pass-catching H-back, Dallaire doesn’t wow you athletically and desperately needs to add bulk to his six-foot-three, 220-pound frame. His strong hands and experience as a route runner make him a versatile offensive chess piece and he can be a valuable special teams contributor, with experience as both a wild cat QB and a holder.

2. Jacob Mason, McMaster University (Burlington, Ont.)

Built like a true fullback at six-foot and 222 pounds, Mason is a relentless grinder who latches on to opponents and always drives to finish. While his technique often bleeds into the grey area of the rulebook, his effort level will endear him to scouts.

3. Sebastian Howard, Saint Mary’s University (Parksville, B.C.)

A six-foot-five, 219-pound lump of clay that can be moulded however a team likes, Howard has unique athletic traits but struggled to see the field in college due to difficulties in his personal life. Still technically raw as a blocker, his ridiculous length and 4.7-speed give him a high ceiling as an H-back who can threaten defences either in-line or from the slot.

Photo courtesy: Western Athletics

4. Spencer Nichols, Western University (London, Ont.)

A former offensive lineman, Nichols offers limited value as a runner or pass catcher but has helped open up holes for Western’s vaunted rushing attack. Long and lean at six-foot-two and 226 pounds, he’s a powerful popper with the ability to roll his hips through contact and displace defenders.

5. Taylor Stalkie, Wilfrid Laurier University (Camden East, Ont.)

At a compact five-foot-10 and 227 pounds, Stalkie saw little time on the Golden Hawks offence but ate on special teams with 8.5 tackles in 2022. Limited by short arms and lack of top-end speed, he has great lane discipline and always ends up right where he needs to be to make a play.

6. Simon Crevier, McGill University (Ile-Perrott, Que.)

A touch more athletic than others on this list at five-foot-11 and 220 pounds, Crevier is a technically sound blocker with hips that roll nicely through contact. He has the potential to be a solid depth player and special teams addition.

7. Lucas Robertson, University of British Columbia (Edmonton, Alta.)

Attractive due to his imposing six-foot-four, 235-pound frame, Robertson was well utilized as an H-back in UBC’s prolific rushing attack but performed inconsistently as a blocker. Despite his technical issues, some teams see athletic tools that are worth developing.

8. Derek Best, Langley Rams (Surrey, B.C.)

A former member of the Western Mustangs, Best notched eight special teams tackles in 2019 before leaving for the CJFL. At six-foot-one and 200 pounds, he has been a relentless, physical runner against low-level competition and will finish as a lead blocker.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.