3DownNation’s top 25 prospects in 2024 CFL Draft

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

The 2024 CFL Draft is scheduled to get underway today at 8:00 p.m. ET, with hundreds of players waiting to see if their pro football dream will be realized.

As always, 3DownNation is 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.

Our team has already ranked the available prospects at every position, broking down the quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, receivers, offensive linemendefensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs, and specialists. Now it’s time to unveil our top 25 available prospects before the Edmonton Elks get on the clock tonight.

Top 25

Photo: AP/Butch Dill

1. OL Isaiah Adams, University of Illinois (Ajax, Ont.)

You can safely expect Adams to be bypassed entirely by the CFL, after he was taken in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The former freshman starter at Laurier bet on himself by transferring to Garden City Community College following the pandemic and making his way to Illinois, where his buttery smooth ability to get to the second level proved to be a catalyst for the success of fellow Canadian Chase Brown. His stock was hurt by having to play out of position at right tackle last year and the athletic measurables don’t jump off the page, but those who watched the 2022 film know he can be a rookie starter at guard.

2. TE Theo Johnson, Penn State University (Windsor, Ont.)

The former top-ranked college recruit in all of Canada, Johnson is unlikely to be taken in this year’s CFL draft after he was taken in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. His production has been underwhelming at times for the Nittany Lions but the Windsor native is viewed as a high-upside project after testing like an all-time freak at the NFL Combine. He could start as a rookie in the NFL if Darren Waller chooses to retire.

3. TE Tanner McLachlan, University of Arizona (Lethbridge, Alta.)

McLachlan surprised many by falling to the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but was later revealed to have undergone core muscle surgery. A walk-on transfer from Southern Utah, he surpassed Rob Gronkowski as Arizona’s most-productive-ever tight end and has an innate understanding of space as a receiver. A battler on and off the field, the Lethbridge native could very well exceed his draft position and will be a risky gamble for a CFL team.

4. OL Kyle Hergel, Boston College (Toronto, Ont.)

Once dubbed “a program changer” by his college head coach, that’s exactly what scouts see in Hergel after he dominated at three dramatically different levels of college competition — first in the FCS with North Dakota and then in the FBS with Texas State and Boston College. Credited with one of the highest career PFF grades of any draft-eligible guard, he’s a gritty tone-setter with technical hands, smooth feet, and a tremendous anchor. The six-foot-two, 302-pound blocker lacks ideal NFL length, though his absurd strength and underdog mentality are expected to serve him well as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints. If he was available in Week 1, Hergel would be the consensus top CFL pick, but teams love him so much they fear they’ll be waiting forever.

5. OL Theo Benedet, University of British Columbia (North Vancouver, B.C.)

The most accomplished offensive lineman in U Sports history, Benedet has taken home back-to-back J.P. Metras Trophies as the country’s top big man and attracted plenty of NFL attention along the way. He’s as polished a tackle prospect as Canada has ever produced, combining stunning initial quickness and fluid footwork with unparalleled flexibility and bend. In a just world, he would have been selected in the NFL Draft but concerns about the lack of bulk on his six-foot-seven, 295-pound frame and his sub-par 32-inch arms led him to sign as an undrafted free agent. With $100,000 guaranteed from the Chicago Bears, CFL teams know they’ll be waiting at least a couple of years if they want to draft the potential ratio-breaking bookend.

Photo: AP/Brandon Wade

6. LB Joel Dublanko, University of Cincinnati (Aberdeen, Wash.)

The projected first overall pick in the Draft, the Edmonton Elks should be dancing in the streets that Dublanko’s Canadian-born father has made him eligible for selection. A former first-team All-AAC honouree who helped drive the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff in 2021, he’s already had stints with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, while also starting last year for the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. The six-foot-two, 231-pound defender is leaner, meaner, and faster than he was coming out of school, showing the instincts and athletic ability to go sideline-to-sideline. You can pencil him in as a plug-and-play ratio-breaker.

7. OL Giovanni Manu, University of British Columbia (Pitt Meadows, B.C.)

Standing at a mountainous six-foot-seven and 353 pounds, Manu is not nearly as polished as his UBC teammate but his freakish athletic ability led to the Detroit Lions selecting him in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. The first player taken from U Sports since 2016, he jumped 33.5 inches in the vertical and clocked a ridiculous 5.03-second forty-yard dash at his pro day while boasting all the length and bulk the NFL covets. Though his lateral agility has led some to question whether he can play tackle at the next level, he has prior experience at guard and generational traits that will make it buyer-beware for anyone in the CFL.

8. REC Kevin Mital, Université Laval (Longeuil, Que.)

The 2022 Hec Crighton Trophy winner ended his Laval career with a whimper due to a high ankle sprain and an off-the-field suspension, but he answered every question he needed to at the CFL Combine. At six feet and 229 pounds, Mital provides a unique physical mismatch worthy of comparison to Lemar Durant or even Nik Lewis, with all the tools to thrive as a possession slotback. At his peak, you could argue he was the most dominant receiver in U Sports history and he’s ready to contribute Week 1 for a CFL squad.

9. LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku, University of Memphis (Levis, Que.)

Don’t let his slower forty-time fool you, Cantin-Arku was nearly as productive as Dublanko in the same college conference and actually posted higher PFF grades in his final two seasons — albeit while playing fewer games. At six-foot-three and 230 pounds, he flows and fills as well as anyone, with excellent eye discipline and downhill aggression. He may lack the true top gear to cover space or crack an NFL roster, but he’ll start in the middle for a CFL team in due time.

10. REC Nick Mardner, Auburn University (Mississauga, Ont.)

A thousand-yard receiver for Hawaii back in 2021, Mardner transferred first to Cincinnati then Auburn and saw his role reduce each time, in part due to injuries. That could be to the benefit of CFL clubs, as there is no way that a true six-foot-six, 208-pound deep threat would be in training camp for them otherwise. Like many players that tall, the college journeyman has some stiffness and limitations to his route tree but will stack defenders like few others on the outside.

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

11. OL Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay, Université Laval (Rimouski, Que.)

A two-time All-Canadian left tackle for the Rouge et Or, Dumoulin-Duguay’s lack of ideal length will require a kick inside at the next level but he can comfortably play all five spots up front. A modern offensive lineman with a trim physique, the former Canadian Army enlistee is a fluid athlete when pulling in space and has easy feet when mirroring, with a great natural anchor when stonewalling larger opponents to boot. His versatility will make him a fantastic sixth man as a rookie, but it won’t be long before Laval can claim another CFL starter up front.

12. LB Nick Wiebe, University of Saskatchewan (Calgary, Alta.)

You’d be forgiven for forgetting Wiebe was even in this draft, given that his torn ACL in the Hardy Cup playoffs has nearly erased him from the media narrative. That’s a tragedy, as the former walk-on for the Oregon Ducks is a first-round talent who closes with violence and packs a punch as a tackler, with sneaky-good coverage skills to boot. The six-foot-three, 240-pound Canada West all-star won’t be ready to play next season, but he is more than worth the wait.

13. OL George Una, University of Windsor (Toronto, Ont.)

Another potential future starter with some positional versatility, Una has great length for an interior player and pairs it with excellent lateral quickness off the snap, allowing him to make even the toughest reach blocks. He’s equally agile as a pass protector and maintains good position throughout each rep, rarely losing an edge. There is still room to develop in terms of his hand usage in the passing game, but he’s ready to contribute as a rookie.

14. DE Luke Brubacher, Wilfrid Laurier University (Listowel, Ont.)

Brubacher is not yet a polished product but you wouldn’t expect that from an athlete who had never played a snap of football until three years ago. The former high school boxer walked on to the Laurier team on a whim after the pandemic and started from day one thanks to his freakish athletic measurables. At six-foot-five and 246 pounds, he’s faster and more explosive than many receivers, with blue traits galore and all the tools to develop into a dangerous rush end. His absolute floor is as a matchup nightmare on special teams but if he continues on his current trajectory, he could work his way to the NFL in a couple of years.

15. DB Ben Labrosse, McGill University (Greenfield Park, Que.)

There is only one coverage player in this draft with certified NFL calibre measurables and that is Labrosse, who jumps out of the gym and clocks a blazing 4.51-second forty-yard dash. The knock is his commitment level, as he quit Syracuse in 2021 despite seeing substantial playing time as a true freshman at nickel and was unable to compete at McGill last year due to academics. A 2022 All-Canadian at cornerback, he can realistically play all five spots in the secondary and has an unparalleled ability to sink and redirect. There were times Labrosse looked bored in the RSEQ but when he turned it on, it was clear that he was at another level from the competition.

Photo: AP/Denis Poroy

16. DT Daniel Okpoko, San Diego State University (Saskatoon, Sask.)

A six-year player for the Aztecs, Okpoko had almost no production until he stepped into a starting role in his final season. Standing at a lean six-foot-four and 274 pounds with impressive 35-inch arms, he hasn’t shown the elite first step to truly threaten as a pass rusher but flashed some quick hand usage at the CFL Combine. He’s a positionally sound and reliable run defender who can competently play inside or on the edge, but he’ll likely never reach the heights of his NFL cousin Israel Idonije.

17. SAM Melique Straker, Arkansas State University (Brampton, Ont.)

Atrocious change of direction numbers at his Arkansas State pro day have tanked any first-round buzz around Straker, but the quality of the tape hasn’t changed. A true SAM linebacker at five-foot-10 and 202 pounds, the transfer from Carleton had more than enough fluidity in his hips to cover in the slot in college. His strength and explosiveness are elite when sifting through traffic as well, giving him a chance to steal a starting role even if he falls on Tuesday.

18. DB Cristophe Beaulieu, Université Laval (Blainville, Que.)

The brother of former third-round pick Jordan Beaulieu, Cristophe is in another tier as a prospect, with a decorated university career that includes a Vanier Cup ring and two All-Canadian selections at halfback. Frankly, he may be good enough to contribute in that spot at the next level, with fluid hips in transition that allow him to never break stride, but he’ll roll over to safety with as much ease. Beaulieu is still a bit high in his backpedal and is developing his spatial awareness in zone, but few can turn and sprint quite like him.

19. OL Gabe Wallace, University at Buffalo (Salmon Arm, B.C.)

A neck-roll-wearing mauler, Wallace has played plenty of tackle with the Bulls but will happily move back to his natural guard spot in the CFL. At a broad-shouldered six-foot-six and 344 pounds, there are concerns that the former high school rugby star is carrying too much weight and lacks the foot speed to re-direct, causing his stock to fall. However, his size will be a feature in the right downhill rushing attack and his heavy hands effectively stop defenders in their tracks before they are able to get going.

20. REC Kevens Clercius, University of Connecticut (Montreal, Que.)

At six-foot-two and 217 pounds, it is Clercius’ physical frame and willingness to get his nose dirty that is most attractive to CFL teams. A solid depth receiver at UConn who won occasionally on the outside, his role on offence disappeared almost entirely last season and he was forced to embrace special teams. Simply put, no receiver in this class approaches blocking with the same fervour. He’ll likely never be a thousand-yard target, but the things he does well that don’t show up on the box score will ensure a long career.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Young Kwak

21. OL Christy Nkanu, Washington State University (Montreal, Que.)

Finding a consistent starting role has been a challenge for Nkanu at the collegiate level, but the ultimate Mr. Fix-It could realistically step into any of the five positions as a CFL player. Despite his small number of snaps at Southern Utah and failure to get on the field for the Cougars, the six-foot-two, 309-pound blocker’s efficiency as a pass protector has been exceptional when he’s played. With good technique and enough quickness to get you out of a season at tackle, he’s a far more gifted player than his stubby build would suggest.

22. RB Michael Chris-Ike, Delaware State University (Hamilton, Ont.)

At six-foot-one and 225 pounds, Chris-Ike is a chiselled Adonis with freakish change of direction and blazing straight-line speed. The problem is that his incredible Combine testing never translated to the Hornets’ backfield, where he was a minimal role player due to his upright, choppy running style and general lack of vision. That won’t dissuade CFL teams from drafting him highly though, because the Hamilton native was a dominant force on special teams and posted eight tackles last year. He’ll be a Day 1 contributor in that phase of the game, with the size to help out at fullback and enough rushing ability to get you out of a game at tailback.

23. REC Dhel Duncan-Busby, Bemidji State University (Toronto, Ont.)

A Division II standout with more yardage under his belt than any other receiving prospect available, Duncan-Busby proved at the CFL Combine that he has the athletic tools to translate to the next level. An ex-basketball player who fell into football by accident, he flashes a good release off the line and is hard to bump off his route, with a solid understanding of how to attack a defender’s leverage. He may take a year to develop given that he has never actually played the Canadian game, but the tools are there for success.

24. DE Tyson Hergott, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ont.)

The J.P. Metras Trophy runner-up after recording 11 sacks last year, Hergott is a B+ athlete who lacks the ideal length of most elite pass rushers, making up for it by working like a dog. He’s a natural power rusher who is able to consistently stack and shed while showing a varied, if simplistic, pass rush arsenal. He shows relentless effort to chase down the quarterback and try to strip the football, which will translate on special teams even if he doesn’t become a regular at defensive end.

25. OL Anim Dankwah, Howard University (Brampton, Ont.)

An NFL Combine attendee this year, Dankwah landed an undrafted free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles due to his enormous six-foot-eight, 353-pound frame. Unlike fellow behemoth left tackle Manu, the Ghanaian immigrant lacks the corresponding freak athletic measurables and relies purely on his length to avoid disaster as a pass protector. Some CFL scouts believe the HBCU star’s heavy feet and lack of knee bend will preclude him from ever having success if he comes back to Canada, though his ability to physically manhandle opponents with size in the run game is almost unmatched.

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.