2024 CFL Draft rankings: specialists

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

There is just one day remaining until the 2024 CFL Draft, with hundreds of players waiting to see their pro football dreams realized on Tuesday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

As always, 3DownNation will be your go-to source for extensive coverage of all eight rounds. Analysts J.C. Abbott and Ben Grant will be live on YouTube for the entirety of the selection process, while mock draft guru John Hodge is set to provide up-to-the-minute written analysis with his annual live blog.

In the lead-up to the festivities, our team has collaborated on prospect rankings at every position, We’ve already broken down the quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, receivers, offensive linemendefensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs. Make sure to check back tomorrow morning when we unveil our official Top 25 rankings.

Kickers and Punters

1. Vincent Blanchard, Université Laval (Quebec City, Quebec)

A second-team All-Canadian who made 94 percent of his field goals last season, Blanchard is a three-tool kicker who won’t blow you away in any one area but was good enough to land a mini-camp tryout with the New England Patriots. His leg isn’t overly strong in any category but he’s been a successful directional punter with 55 kicks pinned inside the 20 and has learned not to miss from inside the 40-yard line on field goals. Most importantly, he’s proven how to deliver in big moments, like his five-for-five performance in the 2022 Vanier Cup.

Photo courtesy: Piper Sports Photography/Regina Rams

2. Aldo Galvan, University of Regina (Mexico City, Mexico)

A born-and-bred Mexican citizen who has been nationalized after six years with the Rams, Galvan ironically might have had a better shot at making a roster if he remained a Global in the current punter climate. Regardless of status, the first-team All-Canadian can boot the leather off a football and successfully broke NFL legend Jon Ryan’s school record with a 46-yard average in 2022. That doesn’t even mention his kickoff average of 61.4 yards last season or the fact that he’s happy to chase down and make the tackle on his own kicks.

3. Ben Hadley, St. Francis Xavier University (Halifax, N.S)

When it comes to kickoff specialists, Hadley is elite. He averaged a whopping 65.2 yards per kick last year and sent a jaw-dropping 11 of them for singles, adding to a career total of 17. He doesn’t show quite the same leg as a punter and is better known for his efficiency as a kicker, hitting 31-of-38 kicks last year of which three misses were from outside of 50 yards. Those tools are worth a look, though they may not be enough to stick long term.

4. Jonathan Giustini, University of Alberta (Calgary, Alta.)

There is an argument to be made that Giustini has the strongest leg of any player in this class, with a career-long field goal of 49 yards, a 57.7-yard kickoff average, and 13 sent through the endzone. He’s handled all three duties for the Golden Bears but hasn’t been able to focus on his craft, also serving as starting safety and our ninth-ranked defensive back prospect in this class. If someone wants to refine the raw tools, he may have more potential kicking than on defence.

5. Cole Crossett, University of Waterloo (Metcalfe, Ont.)

A former second-team All-Canadian, Crossett lacks consistency in his game both as a field goal kicker and a punter. He also shows flashes of power, having hit a career-long 49-yarder and never averaging less than 40 yards per kick in the punting game. That likely isn’t enough to secure a CFL role, but stranger things have happened.

On the fringes: Max Capriotti, St. FX (Mount Hope, Ont.) | Yani Gouadfel, Bishop’s (Mitry-Mory, France)

Long snappers

1. Ian Leroux, Université Laval (Quebec City, Que.)

Leroux is committed to returning to Laval next season, which is the only reason the best true long snapper available won’t be a plug-and-play mid-round selection for a desperate franchise. He’ll still be worth a futures pick as someone who can come in for 2025 and replace an ancient veteran, though you’d like him a little faster at six-foot-one and 225 pounds.

Photo: Rich Lam/UBC Athletics

2. Brad Hladik, University of British Columbia (Vernon, B.C.)

Our third-rated fullback/tight end is viewed by most teams as a specialist target, with scouts being split on whether he can step in right away or needs a year of development. Either way, there will be growing pains as he only performed the duties for one season with the Thunderbirds due to being buried behind last year’s top snapper, Luke Burton-Krahn.

3. Jacob Lavoie, McGill University (Laval West, Que.)

A solid and reliable snapper for the Redbirds, Lavoie also has a sack and an interception on his resume as a former defensive line contributor. He’s beefy for the position at six-foot-three and 237 pounds but actually gets down the field faster than Leroux.

4. Paul-Antoine Ouellette, Université de Montréal (Montreal, Que.)

Our seventh-ranked tight end has not served as a primary snapper in several years but was efficient in the role back when he did it. At the very least, he’ll be a value add and emergency option.

On the fringes: Andrew Warner, Mount Allison (King City, Ont.)

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.