Much of the attention on the CFL draft is obviously on the first couple of rounds; they have the biggest names, they're the ones that are televised instead of webcast, and they usually figure prominently in evaluations of how the various teams did. However, there are often some incredibly notable players who go in the later rounds, especially in years such as this one where there's significant NFL interest in many picks, and some of these guys can wind up making major impacts for clubs down the road. Continuing a tradition from last season, here are five of the most notable late-round picks from this year's draft.
—Ismaël Bamba, receiver, Sherbrooke (first pick of sixth round, 39th overall to Saskatchewan): Bamba was one of the most physically explosive receivers in this class, finishing fifth overall and second amongst receivers (behind only sixth-overall pick Shamawd Chambers) in the 40-yard dash at E-Camp with a time of 4.54 seconds. His 39-inch vertical was also fifth overall and second amongst receivers (behind Queen's Johnny Aprile, taken 16th overall), and he finished third in the broad jump. Bamba's more than just a raw athlete though, as he made some unbelievable catches in both the NCAA with North Dakota and in CIS action with Sherbrooke. Kent Ridley's guide has Bamba ranked second of available receivers, and there's some logic behind that, so he could be a huge steal for the Riders.
—Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, defensive lineman, Laval (third pick of third round, 17th overall to Hamilton): Gascon-Nadon falling to the third round was surprising to many, as he looked like one of the most impressive defensive linemen in this draft. He's shone at the CIS level with the Rouge et Or, and although he didn't do much at E-Camp thanks to injury concerns, there was still a lot of buzz about his physical ability. He did well at the East-West Shrine Game, so there's a chance NFL interest may have played a role here, but if he stays north of the border, he could be a great fit for the Tiger-Cats.
—Jordan Verdon, linebacker, Calgary (seventh pick of fifth round, 37th overall to B.C.): Verdon may not have been chosen as high as fellow Dinos' linebacker Sam Hurl (12th overall), but he's as good if not better in the eyes of many. Hurl's a little taller, but Verdon flies around the field and hits very hard, and he became a great fit with the Dinos following a transfer from Waterloo in the wake of that program's suspension. He'll likely start with special teams, where his high motor and instinct for the tackle should serve him well, but he could eventually slide into a B.C. linebacking corps that's been willing to utilize non-imports like James Yurichuk and Joash Gesse. Verdon could have a long career as a CFL linebacker.
— Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, receiver, Sherbrooke (third pick of fourth round, 25th overall to Hamilton): It's not every draft that you can land one of Canadian university football's most productive receivers in the fourth round, but that's what the Tiger-Cats did here. Charbonneau-Campeau tied for the league lead with eight regular-season touchdowns this season and also had 854 receiving yards on 53 catches, averaging 94.9 yards per game. At 6'5'' and 215 pounds, he's a big target, but he also has soft hands and consistently reels balls in. He's very similar to another impressive Canadian the Tiger-Cats already have, Dave Stala, but Charbonneau-Campeau has another three inches of height. He could be a nice target for Henry Burris this season, and a Andy Fantuz-Stala-Charbonneau-Campeau tandem might be the most impressive collection of non-import receivers since Saskatchewan's vaunted Canadian Air Force.
—Bo Adebayo, defensive end, Western Kentucky (fourth pick of third round, 18th overall to Montreal): Adebayo's drop was definitely due to NFL interest, as he's set to head off to the Detroit Lions' minicamp later this month. However, a minicamp invitation isn't sure to lead to a contract, and if Adebayo winds up coming north some time in the near future, this could be a terrific gamble for the Alouettes. Adebayo made a big impression for the Hilltoppers this year, in particular with his remarkable takedown of LSU QB Jordan Jefferson, and he could make CFL quarterbacks' lives very difficult in the years to come.