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Forde: 2011 CFL Draft - Defensive Rankings

Duane Forde
5/8/2011 12:36:58 PM
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With the CFL Canadian Draft underway on TSN and TSN Mobile TV, Football Insider Duane Forde breaks down the defensive rankings of players expected to be selected.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

1. Vaughn Martin (Western Ontario): has played in the NFL for the last two seasons
2. Junior Turner (Bishop's): remarkably athletic at 255 lbs., could play tackle or end
3. Jadon Wagner (Brigham Young): giving up senior year to turn pro after breakout 2010
4. Gregory Alexandre (Montreal): good motor and pass rush skills are his calling cards
5. Maurice Forbes (Concordia): former top recruit overcame injury bug in 2010
6. Marc-Antoine Fortin (Laval): good DE but long snapping skills boost his stock
7. Zander Robinson (Western Ontario): helped himself with strong 1-on-1s at E-Camp
8. Louie Richardson (Manitoba): lanky, athletic end has nice upside
9. Craig Gerbrandt (Alberta): outstanding CIS pass rusher may be limited as a pro
10. Renaldo Sagesse (Michigan): Wolverine DT isn't physically impressive but has some skill
11. Mathieu Boulay (Bishop's): At 6'0", 240 lbs., he's a bit of a tweener but moves well
12. Daniel Cordick (Eastern Michigan): end sat out his draft year after leaving EMU
13. Garlins Duclervil (Montreal): stocky, powerful DT contributed to Alexandre's success
14. Serge Kaminsky (British Columbia): boosted his stock through combine workouts
15. Chris Hodgson (Saint Mary's): inexperience is a concern for former pro hockey player

Overview: It didn't go unnoticed by CFL scouts when the San Diego Chargers drafted a defensive lineman in the first round of last week's NFL Draft, as it has fuelled speculation about Martin's future with the Bolts. Turner's measurables scream prototypical defensive end but he played tackle throughout his CIS career. Wagner's stock has leapt up as a combination of his strong junior season and his decision to turn pro this summer, while Fortin's skill as a long snapper gives him an edge over other pure ends like Richardson, Gerbrandt, Boulay, and Cordick. Alexandre has stood out every time I've seen him play and Forbes seemed to get it all together in 2010 after missing a lot of snaps because of injuries earlier in his career. Hodgson's story is worth following, as he's a 26 year old with loads of raw athletic ability but virtually no meaningful football experience.

LINEBACKERS

1. Henoc Muamba (St. Francis Xavier): rare athleticism for a 230 lbs. linebacker
2. Patrick Jean-Mary (Howard): redshirt junior plays regularly in Bison defence
3. John Surla (Western Ontario): his effort makes up for some physical limitations
4. Peter Thiel (Saskatchewan): turned in a solid E-Camp, which included top Wonderlic score
5. Ryan Chmielewski (McMaster): instinctive Marauder LB has battled nagging injuries
6. Joseph Malabuyoc (Hawaii): Rainbow Warrior walk-on has special teams potential
7. Tom Labenski (Acadia): led the AUS in tackles in 2010
8. Jeff Hecht (Saint Mary's): hybrid LB joined Muamba and Labenski as Atlantic all-stars
9. Nico Higgs (Saskatchewan): undersized LB has a nose for the football
10. Jermaine Lewis-Parris (Bishop's): 212 lbs. DB better suited to playing in the box

Overview: If there's a knock on Muamba, it's that he's not overly physical. That may limit him to playing weakside LB rather than in the middle. At the moment, he projects as the only potential starter in the group but Jean-Mary is a bit of a wild card. He has played extensively at Howard but hasn't necessarily received much exposure. The remaining linebackers seem destined to compete for special teams roles at the next level. Surla and Thiel head that group, as they possess both the attitude and skill set (which includes long snapping) to be successful. Chmielewski could be the most underrated member of this group. He has started since Day One at Mac and has been a top OUA defender. If he can stay healthy and improve his overall conditioning, he could be a real hidden gem. The first seven 'backers on my list are "traditional" LBs, while numbers eight through ten are undersized potential hybrid types. I see particular special teams potential in Higgs, a hustler who always seems to be around the football. Slightly off the radar is Mike Miller (Acadia), another DB who might have "outgrown" that position.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

1. Michael Carter (Maryland): stock has rapidly risen as a result of recent workouts
2. Hugo Lopez (Toronto): combines size and athleticism, could play SAM LB
3. Craig Butler (Western Ontario): demonstrated outstanding cover skills at E-Camp
4. Troy Adams (Northeastern State): covers a little better than some bigger, faster corners
5. Shane Herbert (Wilfrid Laurier): explosive, long-armed defender has some upside
6. Andre Clarke (York): one of the fastest players in the class, had best 40 at E-Camp
7. Daryl Townsend (Windsor): rock solid DB led Lancers in tackles by a wide margin
8. Blaine Ruttan (Carson-Newman): redshirt junior has seen regular but limited PT since '08
9. James Savoie (Guelph): small but smart halfback was an All-Canadian in 2010
10. Jonathan Laliberté (Laval): physical safety was a big part of the nation's best D in '10

Overview: The group is a mixture of potential free safeties and field cornerbacks. While Lopez, Herbert, and Clarke tested through the roof at E-Camp, it was Butler, who's more of a safety, who dominated the one-on-ones. Butler is also an outstanding special teams performer. Carter skipped E-Camp to take prepare for his University of Maryland Pro Day but has earned solid reviews from CFL scouts after a series of post E-Camp workouts. Also keep an eye on Adams and Townsend, a couple of solid DBs who were overshadowed at E-Camp. One player flying below the radar is 5'9" corner Mark Durigon (Guelph), a ballhawk who has posted 11 picks over the last two seasons.

SPECIALISTS

1. Hugh O'Neill (Alberta): handles all three kicking duties as well as any prospect in years
2. Christopher Milo (Laval): among the CIS' best, with several clutch FGs on his résumé
3. Brody McKnight (Montana): redshirt junior K/P was the Grizzlies MVP
4. Josh Maveety (Bishop's): stock has risen considerably since season's end
5. Kevin Allaer (Adrian College): D3 punter was selected to small school all-star game

Overview: For the second year in a row, there's some depth in terms of kicking prospects. The CIS résumés of both O'Neill and Milo are comparable to that of Calgary's 2010 first rounder Rob Maver and both are ready to move to the next level. McKnight had a tremendous season at Montana, hitting some key field goals and adding punting duties en route to being named second team All Big Sky Conference. Maveety isn't quite as polished as the top three but definitely has a CFL leg and is adept at all three kicking disciplines. The lanky Allaer is primarily a punter, who boomed a seventy yarder during a workout for CFL scouts earlier this week.




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