The Canadian draft of the CFL is usually somewhat of a virtual event, but in 2020, the league took it to a new level, and it will continue when the 2021 draft takes place on Tuesday night.
Last year, at the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, Edmonton football team general manager Brock Sunderland was home at home in his basement with a pair of white boards for draft day; This year, he will be in a more comfortable position.
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“I am going to be in the office and I may have a person or two, socially upset, but I will work out of the office this year; A little easier and more functional. “
Due to not playing the CFL in 2020, the league went with a random draw to set the draft order. Hamilton first chose Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and then Edmonton.
It will be a “snake draft” – one to nine in round 1, and one to two in round one. Edmonton is right in the middle at number 5 – they will be the only team to be selected at the same position in each round (fifth, 14th, 23rd, 32nd, 41st and 50th overall).
BC, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Hamilton will close Round 1 again. The Ty-Cats second pick comes from Montreal as the final piece of the Johnny Manziel trade. Alouettes will start round 2.
This is a short draft this year, reduced from the usual eight rounds to six. Some players have postponed their draft status until 2022, some players have shifted completely from football and some players have headed south for NFL opportunities through the draft or as unused free agents .
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Sunderland says that despite all these, good players are available, especially early.
“This is a very top-heavy draft. Certainly the best players were out in the first round. “
The epidemic forced teams to work almost as far as preparing travel and gathering restrictions. This meant that all meetings and combinations with the players were done on top of the zoom. Sunderland was not a big fan of that.
“You want to see the players up close and personal,” Sunderland said as he prepared for his fifth draft as vice president of football for the Edmonton football team.
“You want to see body language and how they are in practice.
“To me, very often, it’s not how they learn a drill; This is how they handle the situation.
“If a player messes up a drill and has to fix it three or four times, you get an idea of how scared they are, what the intelligence is and what all those things are about.” . When you actually do it, you don’t get that aspect. “
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As is the case every year, the CFL’s general staff will have to decide on players with NFL potential.
Several Canadian players were either drafted last week by an NFL team or signed as a free agent. So if the AA CFL team selects him, they will have to wait a year or two for him or never be ready to see him.
Edmonton has seen both sides. The team selected defensive lineman Matthew Bates for third place in 2019, even though he had a contract with the Chicago Bears. He was released late in training camp and made his debut in Green and Gold in September.
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In 2017, Sunderland took offensive lineman Justin Sr. – considered the best player in the draft – in the fifth round. The senior was already drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and never got to Edmonton. Four seasons he spent trying to make it in the NFL before injuries forced him to retire.
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One of the players in that category for this draft is Chuba Hubbard of Sherwood Park. The fast racer was drafted by the Carolina Panthers of Oklahoma State in the fourth round last week and whichever CFL team takes him will be gambling.
“We always want to make the best player the best possible roster,” Sunderland said.
He believes that going into the fourth round of the NFL’s draft would mean Hubbard would get a longer look with the Panthers and then be dropped.
“He makes it challenging. He likely has plenty of opportunities and, for him, hopes to have a long productive NFL career. “
The 2021 CFL Canadian Draft begins at 5 pm MST on Tuesday evening.
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