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  • Connor O'Neil

CFL Scouting Bureau - Five Favourites

Draft season is finally upon us. Last week the Fall Edition of the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top 20 prospect list was released. This is the type of stuff that football nerds like us over at CFP live and breathe for. We’ve finally been offered a first look at a fresh group of exciting prospects set to take the next step in their football career’s. This year’s Fall Edition of the prospect list gives us a lot to look forward too and some playmakers to keep an eye on as the NCAA football season continues.

One thing that fans are likely to notice right away is the lack of USports talent in the first instalment of the top 20 list. The disappointment that may be felt at first glance is understandable, especially when only 7 of the 20 selections are USports athletes. However, with the cancellation of fall athletics for USports it becomes difficult to evaluate talent without current game tape. Nonetheless, there are still some very exciting prospects on this list coming from both USports and NCAA programs. Without further ado here is an early look at 5 prospects that I’m excited for!

1) #1 Alaric Jackson - OL - Iowa

Iowa’s Alaric Jackson finds himself in the top spot on this list and for good reason. He’s without a doubt one of the most proven players on this list. The Windsor native stands at 6’6, 315lbs. Jackson has been starting at left tackle for the Hawkeyes since the 2017 season. The senior is a tenacious blocker with the nastiness to finish every play; what’s as impressive as his blocking skills are his lateral quickness and athleticism. Alaric Jackson is certainly a player to keep an eye on and likely to be a top pick in the 2021 CFL draft.

2) #13 Deane Leonard - DB - Ole Miss (Transferred from Calgary)

Throwing my biases for defensive backs aside, Deane Leonard is one of, if not my favourite prospect in the 2021 CFL draft class. Leonard was an integral part of the 2020 Vanier Cup champion Calgary Dino’s. The Calgary product was considered to be one of the best defensive backs in the country, being named a USports first team all-Canadian. Leonard is a talented cover corner, with the ability to run with anybody. His quick break and patient demeanour compliment his speed and ballhawking ability. In 2019-20 Leonard recorded 4 interceptions, two of which he returned for a touchdown. In his first 3 games with Ole Miss, Leonard has slotted nicely into the Rebels defensive scheme. Drawing high praise from head coach Lane Kiffin who claimed Leonard, "looked every bit like an NFLer”. Deane Leonard is an absolute must watch.

3) #12 Logan Bandy - OL - Calgary

Since I’ve mentioned the Calgary Dino’s, I have to talk about another incredible player from their roster. Offensive tackle Logan Bandy. The 6’5 295 lb offensive tackle was one of the best linemen in USports for the 2019-20 season, earning second team all-Canadian honours. Bandy’s combination of patience and power helped to create running lanes and keep his quarterback clean all season long. The Dino’s rushed for an impressive 1876 yards on the season averaging 151.5 rushing yards per game in large part due to their outstanding offensive line play. Bandy is a driving force for one of the best offensive units in the country.

4) #8 Patrice Rene - DB - North Carolina

Adding another defensive back to this list probably doesn’t help my, “I don’t have an DB bias” argument, but here we are. Ottawa native, Patrice Rene played as a true freshman and has shown to be a proven playmaker on the Tar Heels defence. Rene is a very good coverage corner; possessing quick feet and sticky man coverage skills, allowing him to run with some of the best receivers in the NCAA. The Canadian’s skill set and versatility allow him to transition seamlessly between playing true corner and slot corner. Despite suffering a season ending injury in week 2 of the 2019-20 season Rene has built an impressive resume in his time at North Carolina. In 36 games he has recorded 75 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interception, 10 pass break ups, and added a fumble recovery. Patrice Rene is an athletic freak and certainly deserving of the recognition he has received.

5) #20 Nick Cross - LB - British Columbia

While I already acknowledged the cancellation of the 2020-21 season and its dramatic impact on a USports athlete’s draft stock, Nick Cross has proven to be one of the best linebackers in Canada. Cross has a knack for finding the ball carrier and a clear love for initiating contact. What is most impressive about Cross’ game is his run stopping ability. He has an innate ability to stay patient and let the play develop before seeking out contact or getting into the backfield. A truly disruptive linebacker that can swing the momentum of a game with one hit. Cross led all of USports in tackles last season with 58 solo tackles; averaging 7 solo tackles per game. In addition to his impressive tackling ability Cross also has the range and ability to cover down on route runners. In 2019-20 Cross recorded a sack, an interception, and two pass break ups. Cross was one of the leaders on the 2019-20 Thunderbirds defence and proved to be one of the best in the country earning first team all-Canadian honours.

Honourable Mentions

#2 Amen Ogbongbemiga - LB - Oklahoma State

#3 Terrell Jana - WR - Virginia

#9 Deshawn Stevens - LB - Maine

#11 Pier-Oliver Lestage - OL - Montreal

#19 Grant McDonald - LB - Calgary

Checkout episode 36 of the CFP Podcast a breakdown of all 20 selections!

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