The annual September draft prospect rankings from the CFL Scouting Bureau (a combination of each team's individual rankings of prospects for the 2014 Canadian draft) were released this week, and there's something particularly notable about this edition: no players from American schools are included. The list is comprised of 13 CIS players and two players from Simon Fraser University (a Canadian school that plays in NCAA Division II). It's an unusual ranking, but there is some logic behind it. Here's the list:
The major reason for the lack of American school content is thanks to a recent CFL change that eliminates the redshirt freshman rule, meaning that NCAA players will now only be drafted in their senior year. Previously, NCAA players were drafted as seniors if they didn't have a redshirt (practice participation only) season, but as juniors if they did. That makes a lot of sense for the long term, and it should reduce the uncertainty over players' NFL prospects that has played such an important role in the CFL draft. For this year, though, it means there's a much smaller crop of NCAA players available, as any redshirt seniors would have been drafted or draft-eligible as redshirt juniors in last year's draft. CFL director of communications Jamie Dykstra confirmed that players who were eligible as redshirt juniors last year but not drafted are free agents now and will not be put in this year's draft, saying "Once you go through a draft, you can't go back in it."
That doesn't mean there aren't any players available from American schools, though. Players who are currently NCAA seniors and didn't have a redshirt season are eligible for the upcoming draft, and there are a few of those. (For example, the SFU players on the list didn't redshirt.) The stock of those others may not be all that high, though. Draft guru Kent Ridley of Ridley Scouting told me "NCAA players Brandon Bridge (QB, South Alabama), Josh DaSilva (OL, Chowan) and Tyson Carter (LS, Dubuque) should be part of this draft class, [but] chances of getting drafted for any of them is pretty slim." Dykstra confirmed those players were considered for this list, but weren't included.
As per the actual list? There are definitely some intriguing prospects in there, with top-ranked Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from McGill particularly standing out. McGill hasn't been the greatest football school lately, but they seem to be on a bit of an upswing, and Duvernay-Tardif is certainly intriguing. He's listed at 6'5'' and 305 pounds, so he could be a very solid guard or centre at the CFL level, and might even be able to play tackle (his CIS position, and one that saw him chosen as a first-team all-Canadian last year) if he puts on a little bit of weight. (Note that three other all-Canadian linemen on that list, Calgary's Kirby Fabien, Regina's Brett Jones and McMaster's Jason Meideros, have already made it to the CFL with B.C., Saskatchewan and Hamilton respectively.) Duvernay-Tardif has size and skill, and could be an interesting CFL player. There are plenty of other notable names on that list, though, including St. Francis Xavier wide receiver Devon Bailey (ranked #2), Western linebacker Beau Landry (#6) and a trio of defensive players from Queen's (#8 DB Andrew Lue, #9 LB Sam Sabourin and #10 DL Derek Wiggan). It may not be a draft with as many guys from big American schools as you'd usually find, but it still should be an interesting draft, and one that could produce a lot of solid future CFL players.