The first receiver taken in each CFL draft since 2000

Photo: AP/Troy Fleece (CP)

For a league in which quarterbacks are rarely drafted, one could argue the marquee position in the CFL draft is receiver.

Every team in the league starts at least one homegrown target with some clubs starting as many as three. Plenty of Canadian receivers have reached stardom since the turn of the century, some of whom were highly-touted prospects while others were draft day afterthoughts.

Below is a comprehensive look at the first receiver taken in each year’s draft since 2000 along with some other standouts who were taken along the way.

Ibrahim Tounkara, Ottawa — Calgary Stampeders (2000)

The Montreal native was selected with the fifth overall pick in the draft and played 117 games over seven seasons with Calgary, Hamilton, and Saskatchewan. His offensive numbers were modest with 103 career receptions for 1,168 yards and seven touchdowns, though he made an impressive impact on special teams with 54 tackles.

Tounkara wasn’t the most productive receiver taken in this year’s draft as Texas Southern product Markus Howell recorded over 6,000 career all-purpose yards with Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Calgary despite being a fourth-round pick.

Kamau Peterson, New Hampshire — Calgary Stampeders (2001)

The six-foot-one, 195-pound target was relatively productive during stints with Calgary, Winnipeg, and Hamilton but reached new heights with Edmonton later in his career, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2007 and 2008. Peterson was twice named a West Division all-star and won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award in 2008.

This year’s draft produced a number of receivers who enjoyed productive CFL careers, including Peterson, Jason French, Pat Woodcock, and Andre Talbot.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Jason Clermont, Regina — B.C. Lions (2002)

The Regina native wasted no time making an impact at the professional level after being taken with the fourth overall pick, winning the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie award in his first CFL season. He played seven years with B.C. and three with his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders, catching 501 passes for 6,756 yards and 38 touchdowns.

Clermont was a two-time West Division all-star, a one-time CFL all-star, the Most Valuable Canadian in the 2004 Grey Cup, and a two-time CFL Most Outstanding Canadian. He appeared in four Grey Cups, winning one in 2006.

Paris Jackson, Utah — B.C. Lions (2003)

The six-foot-three, 215-pound target was the sixth overall pick in the draft and played 11 seasons with his hometown team before one final year split between Ottawa and Edmonton. He made 433 career receptions for 5,859 yards and 31 touchdowns over 194 career regular season games.

The Vancouver native was named a West Division all-star in 2008 and won two Grey Cups with B.C. in 2006 and 2011.

David Azzi, Ottawa — Ottawa Renegades (2004)

The local product spent two years with his hometown team and ended his career with brief stints with Toronto and Saskatchewan after the Renegades folded. He made only 23 career catches for 279 yards and two touchdowns, hardly living up to his billing as the third overall pick in the draft.

Fellow first-round pick Jean-Fredric Tremblay also failed to produce for Toronto, spending only two seasons with the CFL. The two most productive receivers in this year’s draft were O’Neil Wilson and Andrew Nowacki, both of whom were taken near the end of the third round.

Coincidentally, this year’s draft class included two U Sports receivers who ended up being prolific special teams players at the professional level: punter Jon Ryan and long snapper Chad Rempel. Simon Fraser receiver Brendan Mahoney was also selected in the sixth round, who now serves as the director of player personnel for the Calgary Stampeders.

Nathan Hoffart, Saskatchewan — Saskatchewan Roughriders (2005)

Hoffart was selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft but made only seven catches for 55 yards over a four-year CFL career with Saskatchewan and Toronto. He later spent two seasons as the receivers coach for the University of Regina Rams.

The only receiver taken in this year’s draft who made a significant impact at the professional level was Brett Ralph, who was taken out of the University of Alberta at the top of the sixth round. He caught 172 passes for 2,466 yards and 12 touchdowns over five seasons as a member of the Calgary Stampeders.

Andy Fantuz, Western — Saskatchewan Roughriders (2006)

The Hec Crighton Trophy winner was the third overall pick in the draft and played 12 seasons in the CFL with Saskatchewan and Hamilton, making 637 catches for 8,363 yards and 44 touchdowns. He was named the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian in 2007, a CFL all-star in 2010, and earned a brief shot with the Chicago Bears in 2011.

Éric Deslauriers, who now serves as the senior director of football operations and player personnel for the Montreal Alouettes, was also selected in the first round out of Eastern Michigan.

Photo: AP/Jeff McIntosh (CP)

Chris Bauman, Regina — Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2007)

The native of Brandon, Man. was taken with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, joining a team that had made the playoffs just once over the past five seasons. He played in the CFL for six years with Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto, recording 141 receptions for 1,855 yards and seven touchdowns.

There were five receivers taken in the first 14 selections of this year’s draft but none came anywhere near the production of Chris Getzlaf, who was a fifth-round pick of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Regina native made 414 receptions for 6,192 yards and 41 touchdowns over 147 career games primarily with his hometown Riders.

Samuel Giguère, Sherbrooke — Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2008)

The five-foot-eleven, 218-pound target was selected with the eighth overall pick in the draft but didn’t sign his first CFL contract until 2012 following NFL stints with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants.

Giguère dressed for 107 career CFL games with Hamilton, Montreal, and Edmonton, making 207 catches for 2,506 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has since made the transition to bobsledding and represented Canada in the four-man event at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Matt Carter, Acadia — B.C. Lions (2009)

The native of Kelowna, B.C. was drafted by his hometown club with the fifth overall pick but the relationship was short-lived as he requested his release to be closer to an ill family member in Ontario. He played seven seasons with Hamilton, Edmonton, and Ottawa and made 93 catches for 1,289 yards and six touchdowns with easily his best season coming in 2014 with the expansion Redblacks.

Carter retired following the 2015 season, citing concerns regarding the number of concussions he’d suffered during his playing career.

Jordan Sisco, Regina — Saskatchewan Roughriders (2010)

The local product was taken with the eighth overall pick in the draft, though he didn’t join the Riders until after he completed a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts. Sisco struggled to stay healthy in the professional ranks and made only nine catches for 116 yards before being released by Saskatchewan midway through the 2014 season.

The two players selected immediately after Sisco, Cory Watson and Shawn Gore, had very productive CFL careers. Watson made 374 catches for 4,138 yards and 17 touchdowns over 148 career games with Winnipeg, Edmonton, B.C., and Saskatchewan, while Gore made 307 receptions for 3,911 yards and 20 touchdowns with B.C.

Anthony Parker, Calgary — Calgary Stampeders (2011)

The Vancouver native was the third overall pick in the draft and got off to a slow start in Cowtown before settling into a starting role, finishing his seven-year tenure with the team with 185 receptions for 2,344 yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished his career with stints in B.C. and Edmonton, though an Achilles injury forced him to miss a significant portion of time.

There were four receivers taken in the first round of this year’s draft, including Parker, Jade Etienne, Nate Coehoorn, and Marco Iannuzzi. Ironically, Brad Sinopoli, who was drafted as a quarterback in the fourth round out of the University of Ottawa, ended up being by far the most productive receiver of the bunch.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Shamawd Chambers, Wilfrid Laurier — Edmonton Football Team (2012)

The six-foot-three, 220-pound target dressed for 77 games over six CFL seasons with Edmonton, Saskatchewan, and Hamilton after being taken with the sixth overall pick. He made 169 catches for 1,822 yards and eight touchdowns, though would surely have been more productive had he spent less time on injured reserve.

Perhaps the most memorable receiver from this year’s draft is Ismaël Bamba, who was forced to ride 20 hours on the equipment truck from Regina to Vancouver after failing to produce photo identification ahead of a team flight.

Seydou Junior Haidara, Laval — B.C. Lions (2013)

The Quebec City native only caught 20 career passes but was productive in other facets of the game, making 33 special teams tackles. He was selected with the twelfth overall pick, making him one of few receivers on this list who wasn’t taken in the first round of the draft.

The most productive receiver in this year’s class was Natey Adjei, who was taken in the third round out of Buffalo. He overcame a slow start to his career to catch 58 passes for 534 yards and two touchdowns with Edmonton in 2019 before electing to retire amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Devon Bailey, St. FX — Edmonton Football Team (2014)

Height can’t be taught, which was likely what made Bailey the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. The six-foot-five, 202-pound target caught 17 passes for 219 yards as a rookie but was ultimately unable to build on that momentum heading into the following years of his career.

Bailey played five seasons with Edmonton and Saskatchewan, though he finished his tenure in the CFL with only 48 catches for 658 yards and four touchdowns. To his credit, he was still the most effective receiver taken in the 2014 CFL Draft.

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Nic Demski, Manitoba — Saskatchewan Roughriders (2015)

The two-time West Division all-star made a quick impact as a returner and receiver for the Riders before leaving in free agency for his hometown team in 2018. Demski has made 284 catches for 3,248 yards and 23 touchdowns over seven CFL seasons along with 671 rushing yards and 1,568 return yards. Demski was also named the Most Valuable Canadian in the Grey Cup in 2021.

Though his production has fallen off in recent years, Lemar Durant has also had a strong career as a second-round pick, making 195 catches for 2,465 yards and 14 touchdowns with Calgary, B.C., and Hamilton.

Brian Jones, Acadia — Toronto Argonauts (2016)

The six-foot-four, 233-pound target rocketed up draft boards following a strong showing at the CFL Combine and was taken with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Jones was never able to translate that success into production in the CFL as made only 16 catches for 168 yards and one touchdown over five seasons with Toronto, Saskatchewan, and Hamilton.

This year’s draft class featured a number of impact receivers, including Tevaun Smith, Juwan Brescacin, Mike Jones, Llevi Noel, and Shaq Johnson. These five targets all remain active in the league and have combined for 7,227 receiving yards along with 34 touchdown catches.

Danny Vandervoort, McMaster — B.C. Lions (2017)

The native of Barrie, Ont. was the standout of this year’s CFL Combine and was taken with the third overall pick in the draft. He caught only one pass over two seasons with the Lions before being released by the club and has been with Edmonton since, making 11 catches for 129 yards and three touchdowns with the Elks.

Edmonton selected Nate Behar with the fifth overall pick, who is coming off a strong season with Ottawa in which he made 59 catches for 727 yards and two touchdowns.

Mark Chapman, Central Michigan — Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2018)

The six-foot, 180-pound target tore up the CFL Combine and was taken with the first overall pick but didn’t sign with the Ticats due to a contract dispute. He worked out for the New York Giants and later signed with the Denver Broncos, appearing a number of preseason games before being cut at the end of training camp.

Chapman later signed with the Salt Lake Stallions of the AAF but never reported to the team, moving on from professional football at the age of 25. He never played a down in the CFL.

Justin McInnis, Arkansas State — Saskatchewan Roughriders (2019)

The native of Pierrefonds, Que. was the sixth overall pick in the draft who filled a depth role through his first two seasons in Regina before becoming a full-time starter in 2022. He made 33 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns this past season but wasn’t retained in free agency, signing a two-year deal with the B.C. Lions.

This was a receiver-heavy draft class as five of the first 15 selections were used on pass-catchers. Ironically, arguably the league’s best Canadian receiver wasn’t taken until the third round when the Argonauts selected Kurleigh Gittens Jr. out of Wilfrid Laurier.

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Dejon Brissett, Virginia — Toronto Argonauts (2020)

The six-foot-one, 195-pound target was a star at the University of Richmond before transferring to a bigger NCAA program for his final year of college. He has yet to earn a full-time starting role through two seasons with the Argos despite being the second overall pick in the draft, making 19 catches for 233 yards and one touchdown.

The fifth receiver taken in this year’s draft has had by far the best professional career as Kian Schaffer-Baker has caught 115 passes for 1,523 yards and seven touchdowns over two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Jake Burt, Boston College — Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2021)

The Regina native was technically drafted as a tight end, though the Ticats selected him at first overall with the intention of having him rotate at slotback. That plan has yet to materialize as the six-foot-three, 230-pound target has played only 10 career games due to injuries, making four receptions for 40 yards.

Only five receivers were selected in this year’s draft class and the most productive has been Luther Hakunavanhu, who was the last one off the board. The York product was taken late in the fifth round but has caught 34 passes for 531 yards and five touchdowns over 19 career games with the Calgary Stampeders.

Jalen Philpot, Calgary — Calgary Stampeders (2022)

The 22-year-old had a lacklustre performance at the CFL Combine but silenced his doubters amid a strong rookie season. He recorded 23 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns, 10 carries for 102 yards, and 25 returns for 657 yards while starting primarily at field-side wide receiver.

Tyson Philpot, Jalen’s twin brother, also had a strong season, making 39 receptions for 459 yards and two touchdowns, one carry for 16 yards, and 24 returns for 511 yards as a member of the Montreal Alouettes. He was named the Most Outstanding Rookie in the East Division.

Editor’s note: this article has been updated to correct Jake Burt’s career statistics.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.