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Forde: 2011 CFL Draft - Offensive Rankings

Duane Forde
5/8/2011 12:37:32 PM
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With the CFL Canadian Draft underway on TSN and TSN Mobile TV, Football Insider Duane Forde breaks down the offensive rankings of players expected to be selected.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

1. Phil Blake (Baylor): has started at tackle and centre in two seasons with the Bears
2. Tyler Holmes (Tulsa): he's a three-year starter at the critical left tackle position
3. Scott Mitchell (Rice): four-year starter at tackle for the Owls
4. Moe Petrus (Connecticut): like Holmes, this tough OC was a freshman All-American in '08
5. Paul Swiston (Calgary): Metras Trophy finalist in 2010, has battled lower body injuries
6. Brendan Dunn (Western Ontario): athletic lineman jumped up many boards at E-Camp
7. Pascal Baillargeon (Laval): top prospect became a futures pick after E-Camp knee injury
8. Reed Alexander (Calgary): physical blocker was a key to the vaunted Dinos ground game
9. Matt O'Donnell (Queen's): impeccable résumé at CIS level but still needs much work
10. Alex Krausnick-Groh (Calgary): smart centre is a 2-time Canada West all-star
11. Anthony Barrette (Concordia): limited athleticism will force a move inside to OG or OC
12. Yannick Sage (Sherbrooke): next to Dunn, he might be the most athletic OL in this class
13. Donnie McKenzie (Wilfrid Laurier): Golden Hawk offers size and toughness
14. Sebastian Taché (Montreal): Carabins star has no intention of pursuing pro career
15. Michael Knill (Wilfrid Laurier): in a mediocre class his strength makes him a prospect

Overview: Blake, Holmes, Petrus, and Mitchell have all been starters throughout their NCAA careers but the latter is the only one who has completed his college eligibility. As well as being "futures", the other three all possess varying degrees of NFL potential, which makes them even more of a gamble. Mitchell is a lock to be the first offensive lineman chosen because he's the only blocker who is ready to play a meaningful number of CFL snaps in 2011. The 6'9", 340 lbs. Swiston and 6'5", 285 lbs. Dunn are high on my list because I believe they offer the greatest upside. Swiston was the top O-Lineman in Canada West last year but needs to get stronger and improve his conditioning, while Dunn is, by far, the most athletic member of this group but hasn't played a lot of football. Baillargeon likely would have crept into the early rounds if not for an unfortunate knee injury suffered at E-Camp. As for the others, O'Donnell and Barrette are the most recognizable names, having both appeared in the Top 15 of the Canadian Scouting Bureau's rankings. O'Donnell has been an All-Canadian, Metras finalist, and Shrine Game participant but there are concerns that his feet aren't quick enough to be a pro tackle and, at 6'10, may be too tall to get leverage as a guard. Barrette's stock dropped a bit when his E-Camp performance didn't live up to the high expectations created by a good East West Bowl last spring. If I had to reach for a sleeper beyond this list, I'd probably pick centre Jonathan Remigio (McGill) and guard/tackle Dale Furber (Saskatchewan), both of who missed combine season due to injuries.


RUNNING BACKS

1. Matt Walter (Calgary): will return to U of C this fall to complete his degree
2. Carl Volny (Central Michigan): enjoyed some success at the Division 1 level
3. Jerimy Hipperson (Western Ontario): had a breakout season in 2010 after battling injuries
4. Kyle Exumé (Bishop's): rarely played on offence but is a dominant special teamer
5. Joey Nemet (McMaster): won't overwhelm anyone physically but has produced in CIS

Overview: I'll be blunt. This draft class desperately lacks quality depth at tailback and even more so at fullback. Walter has put up great CIS numbers through a combination of good vision, instincts, speed, and hard work but he must be treated as a future. His impending return to school could make Volny, who is similar physically, the first RB off the board. Hipperson has good power and acceleration but the injury woes that have marked his college career also kept him out of E-Camp. Little used Exumé made the list ahead of productive CIS runners Nemet and Craig Leger (Saint Mary's) by virtue of being a little better suited athletically to compete at the next level. The off the radar prospect in this group would be Jide Shinaba (Oregon), a dimunitive scatback, who has been buried on the Oregon Ducks depth chart.


RECEIVERS

1. Anthony Parker (Calgary): clearly the most explosive player in the entire class
2. Marco Iannuzzi (Harvard): speedster climbed the rankings with a good E-Camp
3. Nathan Coehoorn (Calgary): 2-time All-Canadian is a reliable and polished player
4. Jade Etienne (Saskatchewan): 6'3" wideout had a breakout season in 2010
5. Ty Francisco (Weber State): tight end is coming off an injury redshirt season
6. Jedd Gardner (Guelph): has used his quickness to enjoy a productive CIS career
7. Djems Kouamé (Montreal): physical receiver fights for every ball thrown his way
8. Liam Mahoney (Concordia): versatile slot was CIS Rookie of the Year as a QB in '07
9. Ezra Millington (Ottawa): heavily recruited out of high school, he's tall and athletic
10. Brenden Owens (Regina): solid route runner is slight in build but fearless
11. Julian Féoli-Gudiño (Laval): most prolific receiver in class broke his ankle late in season
12. Youssy Pierre (Montreal): small but shifty Carabin made an impression at NIC
13. Jason Price (Regina): string of serious knee injuries have left his future in doubt
14. Daud Semalulu (Ottawa): speedster played two years in D1 but has hardly seen the field
15. Frank Bruno (Montreal): injury held the Carabins leading receiver out of E-Camp

Overview: Ask all eight CFL teams and you'll get at least three different answers as to who is the top receiver on their board. Parker gets the edge for me because of his shocking athleticism and high ceiling but others question his consistency and maturity. The speedy Iannuzzi possesses unquestionable character and big play ability but his durability is in question after losing a lot of time to injuries at Harvard. Frankly, Coehoorn is probably the safest pick of the trio. His potential may be less than that of the other two but he is both highly skilled and physical. Etienne is still growing into his 6'3", 185 lbs. frame but runs and catches well and showed a knack for the big play last season. Francisco missed the entire 2010 season with a torn Achilles but has recovered fully and ranks high on my list because he has a unique skill set. Among the other receivers, Féoli-Gudiño is the biggest name in CIS circles but the injury that ended his season also prevented him from going head to head with his peers at E-Camp and hurt his stock slightly. The 6'5", 240 lbs. Price is one of the players who intrigues me most in this draft class. He's unlikely to be drafted, as he's recovering from his second significant knee surgery in as many years and may even sit out 2011 but, if he can recover fully, he represents a rare combination of size, speed, and skill. I won't name them all but fifteen to twenty different receivers earned serious consideration for slots 11 to 15 on my list, as the biggest dropoffs in this group occur within the Top 10. The deepest sleeper of all might be Jared Manchulenko, another big receiver at 6'3", 235 lbs., who has been something of a football nomad since being very highly recruited out of both the Ontario high school and Quebec CÉGEP ranks.


QUARTERBACKS

1. Brad Sinopoli (Ottawa): athleticism makes him "The Great Canadian Hope" at QB
2. Marc Mueller (Regina): Ron Lancaster's grandson has unparalleled football sense
3. Bruno Prud'homme (Laval): Vanier Cup winner has also played WR during CIS career
4. Andrew Gillis (Toronto): small, mobile QB may also be evaluated at DB or WR

Overview: It would be a positive step for both the CIS and CFL if each of these guys got to attend a CFL training camp, even if only for the learning experience...but that's a whole other column for me. Sinopoli's Draft Day journey will be one worth following on Sunday. In the eyes of CFL scouts, what makes him a CFL prospect when many previous CIS greats were not is the fact that he can already compete physically with most American QBs. Nonetheless, he still faces the challenge of adjusting to the speed and complexity of the pro game. As for Mueller, he has grown up immersed in the CFL game and, while not exceptional physically, both he and any team willing to bring him to camp would benefit from his participation.




Golfer Taylor Pendrith is the highest ranked player on Canada's men's national team. The recent graduate of Kent State University is 18th on the world amateur rankings. More...

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