3DownNation’s 2023 mid-season CFL all-stars

Photo courtesy: Gary Lavoie/Montreal Alouettes

The CFL is entering Week 11, the official mid-way point of the 2023 season.

It has been an electrifying campaign full of brilliant performances, fantastic finishes, and classic comebacks. But while Grey Cup hardware is the only thing that teams care about, that isn’t the only bragging rights up for grabs.

We’ve polled 10 of our contributors to determine which CFL players deserve all-star honours at the halftime mark of the season. It was a taxing process that ultimately resulted in a list of 28 elite players who have wowed fans through 10 weeks.

Here are 3DownNation’s mid-season CFL all-stars.

* denotes National player / ** denotes Global player

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

Quarterback: Chad Kelly, Toronto Argonauts

In a league bemoaning its lack of elite young quarterbacks, Kelly has been a breath of fresh air. The 29-year-old first-year starter has completed 129 of 182 pass attempts (70.2 percent) for 2,041 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just five interceptions while rushing for another 129 yards and a league-high five scores on the ground.

Second team: Zach Collaros, WPG

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Running back: Brady Oliveira, Winnipeg Blue Bombers*

No player in the league can lean on an opponent in the fourth quarter quite like Oliveira and the Canadian standout is running away with the league’s rushing title as a result. His 126 carries for 703 yards are tops in the league, as is his 5.6 yards per carry average, while he has also 19 catches for 274 yards and four total touchdowns.

Second team: A.J. Ouellette, TOR

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Receiver: Shawn Bane Jr., Saskatchewan Roughriders / Austin Mack, Montreal Alouettes / Keon Hatcher, B.C. Lions / Dalton Schoen, Winnipeg Blue Bombers / Nic Demski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers*

No receiver in the CFL has been busier than Saskatchewan’s breakout out star Shawn Bane Jr. with his 51 receptions, while newcomer Austin Mack is leading the league with 657 yards in his first season. Last year’s Most Outstanding Rookie Dalton Schoen is only two yards behind and sits tied for the most receiving touchdowns at five alongside his Canadian teammate Nic Demski. Meanwhile, B.C.’s Keon Hatcher is playing catch-up after missing the first three games of the season but is already sixth in receiving yards with an average of 93.8 per game.

Second team: DaVaris Daniels, TOR / Reggie Begelton, CGY / Tevin Jones, SSK / Alexander Hollins, BC / Kaion Julien-Grant, MTL*

Photo courtesy: David Dermer/B.C. Lions

Offensive line: Jarrell Broxton, B.C. Lions / Landon Rice, Montreal Alouettes* / Brandon Revenberg, Hamilton Tiger-Cats* / Ryan Hunter, Toronto Argonauts* / Chris Kolankowski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers*

There weren’t many dissenting opinions in our offensive line selections. Despite some struggles elsewhere on their respective units, Jarrell Broxton and Landon Rice have distinguished themselves at tackle this season. Brandon Revenberg continues to be a perennial all-star lock at guard, while Ryan Hunter has looked every bit as good as promised since he joined the Argos from the NFL last year. Unheralded former sixth-round pick Chris Kolankowski has also emerged as an elite centre since taking over the job in Winnipeg.

Second team: Jemarcus Hardrick, WPG / Dejon Allen, TOR / Sukh Chungh, BC* / Kristian Matte, MTL* / David Beard, HAM*

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Defensive line: Mathieu Betts, B.C. Lions* / Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers / Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders / Dewayne Hendrix, Toronto Argonauts

Our all-star defensive line is a murderers’ row, led by CFL sack leader and relentless disruptor Mathieu Betts off the edge. Veteran defensive end Willie Jefferson has been as good as ever with eight sacks and a lead-leading nine batted passes, while Mike Rose has been a game-wrecker along the interior with seven sacks for the Stamps. Dewayne Hendrix’s sack total of four is far from jaw-dropping, but his impact as a pass rusher has surpassed that of former all-star Shawn Oakman in Toronto.

Second team: Folarin Orimolade, TOR / Anthony Lanier II, SSK / Casey Sayles, HAM / Micah Johnson, SSK

Photo: Matt Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Linebackers: Wynton McManis, Toronto Argonauts / Micah Awe, Calgary Stampeders / Adarius Pickett, Toronto Argonauts

Wynton McManis has established himself as the CFL’s premier weakside linebacker over the past two seasons and continues to serve as the leader of one of the league’s elite defences. Middle linebacker Micah Awe was the smartest discount signing of this offseason, outpacing the rest of the league with 79 total defensive plays — 13 more than any other player. Adarius Pickett cost significantly more but has had a similar impact at strongside linebacker, making huge defensive plays and well as being Toronto’s best special teams cover man.

Second team: Bo Lokombo, BC* / Larry Dean, SSK / Chris Edwards, HAM

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/BC Lions

Defensive backs: Garry Peters, B.C. Lions / Brandin Dandridge, Ottawa Redblacks / Robertson Daniel, Toronto Argonauts / Deatrick Nichols, Winnipeg Blue Bombers / Royce Metchie, Toronto Argonauts*

Garry Peters is undisputed as the CFL’s top cornerback this season, knocking down seven passes and picking off three without allowing a touchdown this year. Brandin Dandridge has made a huge impact in another way for Ottawa, taking two of his four interceptions back for game-changing touchdowns while adding another score as a returner. Robertson Daniel has broken the mould for a halfback, getting involved in every statistical category and sitting third in the league with 64 total defensive plays. Opponents continue to avoid throwing anywhere near Deatrick Nichols, while Royce Metchie is having a career year at safety for the Argos.

Second team: Nick Marshall, SSK / Demerio Houston, WPG / Richard Leonard, HAM / Evan Holm, WPG / Marc-Antoine Dequoy, MTL

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

Special teams: Sean Whyte, B.C. Lions* / Richie Leone, Ottawa Redblacks / Javon Leake, Toronto Argonauts / Carthell Flowers-Lloyd, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

No kicker in the CFL is more accurate than Sean Whyte right now, as he’s nailed 96.2 percent of his kicks this year. Richie Leone has been excellent in both aspects of punting, sitting second with both a 48.7 gross average and a 39.6 net average. Javon Leake is now ahead of the competition with three punt return touchdowns and a sparkling 15.3 yard average, while rookie Carthell Flowers-Lloyd has dominated in kick coverage with a whopping 17 tackles in eight games.

Second team: Lewis Ward, OTT* / Cody Grace, CGY** / Mario Alford, SSK / Scott Hutter, EDM*