2023 CFL Draft position rankings: defensive linemen

Photo courtesy: Petre Thomas/Ole Miss Athletics

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. We already revealed our list of the top running backs and fullbacks, receivers, and offensive linemen. Make sure to come back tomorrow when we rank the linebackers.

We continue with the defensive linemen, once heralded as the deepest position in the draft. While the league consensus has since soured on a few of the former top prospects, teams should still be able to add competent contributors into the later rounds. That means there is no incentive to reach for a player outside your price range.

Defensive linemen

1. Tavius Robinson, University of Mississippi (Guelph, Ont.)

A transfer from the University of Guelph who immediately proved he could succeed in the SEC, Robinson has elite length at six-foot-six and 257 pounds. His heavy hands and explosive get-off have him projected as a day three NFL draft pick, but the questions around his weight and lack of elite bend could give a glimmer of hope to whichever CFL team takes a flyer on him as a futures selection.

2. Francis Bemiy, Southern Utah University (Montreal, Que.)

With a thick lower body and long arms, the six-foot-three, 257-pound edge rusher has a prototypical frame and effectively uses his reach when setting the edge or rushing the passer. Though he lacks elite burst off the line, Bemiy has great lateral quickness and functional bend with tools that should have him see the field early in a rotational role.

3. Lake Korte-Moore, University of British Columbia (Ottawa, Ont.)

While he played on the edge at UBC, most teams will want Korte-Moore to add a little more weight to his six-foot-three, 264-pound frame and move inside due to his limited length and lack of elite bend. He flashes a relentless motor, a growing arsenal of pass rush moves, and the raw power to physically dominate opponents but still has yet to reach his full potential.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Brandon Wade

4. Lwal Uguak, Texas Christian University (Edmonton, Alta.)

A productive starter in three seasons at UConn, Uguak struggled to see the field after transferring to TCU and has inexplicably trimmed down to 261 pounds in the pre-draft process despite his best positional fit being defensive tackle. Not bendy enough to thrive at end, he has the quick twitch and long arms to be effective inside in the CFL, though some question his balance and strength at the point of attack.

5. Anthony Bennett, University of Regina (Weston, Fla.)

A transfer from Florida Atlantic who has been playing college football since 2015, Bennett is already 26 years old and therefore has less developmental upside than other prospects. The All-Canadian defensive end’s burst, bend and motor are elite as a pass rusher, but his six-foot, 229-pound frame is a major concern at the next level.

6. Quintin Seguin, Charleston Southern University (Windsor, Ont.)

A four-year contributor at North Dakota before transferring to the Buccaneers as a senior, the 271-pound Seguin has played from a variety of alignments in college and proved to be a positionally sound run defender with great lateral quickness. He can contribute inside at the CFL level, though a lack of length and limited pass rush toolbox drops his ceiling.

7. Aidan John, Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, N.S.)

A developmental project with elite traits, John’s technique is raw but he shows the explosive get-off and bend to eventually contribute as a defensive end. In the meantime, his athletic ability and great chase-down speed will allow him to contribute on special teams at six-foot-three and 248 pounds.

Photo courtesy: Mount Allison Athletics

8. Reece Martin, Mount Allison University (Moncton, N.B.)

An extremely long defensive tackle who rushed from a variety of alignments and beat up on weak competition with the Mounties, Martin has developed a few bad habits over the years. He could blossom with the right coaching, as he flashes some nice active hands and the instincts to get his long arms up in passing lanes.

9. Kwadwo Boahen, University of Alberta (Calgary, Alta.)

A stocky, 278-pound defensive tackle who often lined up outside for both Alberta and York, Boahen is slow in his get-off but has elite lateral agility for his size. His strength and reach made him an excellent edge-setter against the run, though he lacks the burst to consistently threaten as a pass rusher.

10. Ryan Leder, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ont.)

Under the radar after failing to receive an invite to the National Combine, Leder is a technically sound defensive end who stacks and sheds blockers extremely well due to his violent hands. He’s an average athlete at six-foot-one and 244 pounds but still has enough straight-line speed to contribute on special teams.

11. Tanner Schmekel, University of Regina (Regina, Ssk.)

A monster in the middle for the Rams, Schmekel is a bull-strong, 290-pound gap plugger who is almost impossible to move off his spot. A team is liable to fall in love with his positional discipline and physicality on tape, but his below-average athletic ability and mere 30-inch arms limit his potential.

12. Collin Kornelson, University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Man.)

A sized-up version of the player he was a few years ago at 288 pounds, Kornelson still has the wiggle and bend of a much smaller man. Those traits will intrigue teams, though he has excelled more as a run defender than a pass rusher with the Bisons.

Photo courtesy: David Cox/St. FX Athletics

13. Alexander Fedchun, St. Francis Xavier University (Calgary, Alta.)

A high-effort chase-down rusher, Fedchun didn’t need refined technique or imposing strength to rack up sacks in the AUS. At 226 pounds, he’s too slight framed to hold up on defence right now but can bring significant special teams value.

14. Tyler Eckert, Langley Rams (Burnaby, B.C.)

An OUA all-rookie team selection in 2018 with Laurier, Eckert led the CJFL with 11 sacks in 2021 but missed last season due to concussions. His injury concerns and compact 225-pound build will scare teams off but his tremendous motor and experience taking snaps at fullback projects well for special teams success.

15. Josh Hyer, University of Calgary (Vernon, B.C.)

Standing at six-foot-two and 258 pounds, Hyer was a reliable edge-setter for the Dinos but should continue to bulk up and play inside at the next level. He’s not particularly technical as a rusher but can be violent with his lockout and is hard to knock off the point of attack.

16. Arnold Mbembe, Lincoln University-California (Montreal, Que.)

A college journeyman who committed to UMass before stints at Laval, Carleton, and finally Division II independent Lincoln, Mbembe has never stayed anywhere long enough to develop his unique tools. Absurdly long at six-foot-five with 34-inch arms, he still looks upright and stiff despite bulking up to 243 pounds from the Gumby-like 220 he played at a year ago.

Photo: University of Alberta. Photo edit: 3DownNation.

17. Donovan Burgmaier, University of Alberta (Sherwood Park, Alta.)

A 2022 prospect who was automatically pushed to this draft after admitting to PED use during his junior career, Burgmaier still has the six-foot-five, 259-pound frame that attracted teams to him in the first place. He was used in a lot of unconventional off-ball linebacker looks early in his career at Alberta but loses gas quickly as an athlete, with disappointing college production.

18. Ansoumane Kourouma, University of Dubuque (Montreal, Que.)

A former JuCo fullback at six-foot-three and 245 pounds, Kourouma had respectable production once converting to defensive line at the Division III level but looks like a laboured athlete. He was physical enough to align inside at times but doesn’t show the twitch needed to excel as a pro.

19. Riley Szafranski, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alta.)

A depth defensive tackle for the Golden Bears, Szafranski’s impressive physical strength, respectable testing numbers, and 34-inch arms point to some untapped potential. He simply doesn’t look natural on defence and you wonder if a CFL team will see the six-foot-two, 288-pounder as an offensive line convert.

20. Salim Fraser, University of Calgary (Calgary, Alta.)

Fraser dressed for just four games last year and has below-average career production as a rotational player. He still looks the part with a long six-foot-three, 250-pound frame and some glimmers of potential on tape could merit a flyer late in the draft.

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.