The amount of attention paid to the CFL's annual draft of Canadian players has risen considerably over the years, with the event going from an off-the-radar curiosity that saw two different teams draft dead players during the 1990s to a show televised live on TSN. The league tracks prospects' progress throughout the year these days, and there's plenty of media coverage of the draft and the players who might be selected. Many, including TSN analyst Duane Forde, have argued that the draft plays a crucial role in teams' development these days. Here's what Forde had to say to the Toronto Sun's Wes Gilbertson last May before the event:
"‘For years, CFL teams didn't go 100% into the draft and they would make mistakes and no one would question them on it. It's getting to a point now similar to the NFL or the NHL in that if you have a couple of bad drafts and the team struggles, people will call you on it.'
‘In the past, there were running jokes about teams drafting a dead guy. Stuff like that ain't going to happen in 2010 because teams do so much more homework now,' Forde said. ‘It's an aspect of the game that is more competitive, and it's taken more seriously. Teams recognize the consequences now of not drafting well.'"
Those quotes are good to hear for those who care about the draft, but quotes are one thing and results are another. It's four months since the draft and over two months into the CFL regular-season schedule, so most teams have their rosters reasonably set by now. We know top overall pick Shomari Williams (pictured above giving Queen's head coach Pat Sheahan a shower after the team won the Vanier Cup last year) has made an impact with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but it's worth going further down the list and checking on just how much of an impact this year's Canadian draft actually made, as well as how each individual team did. To aid with that, I've compiled a spreadsheet looking at the 47 players selected in this year's CFL draft and where they are now. It's embedded below the jump, but you can also view it in a new browser window by clicking here.
The sheet's default order is by overall pick number. Other categories are included as well: team (who drafted the player), via (where the pick came from), school, conference, status, and round. Column J summarizes where each round's players are at the moment, and columns L to O look at what conferences and leagues produced the most players.
Let's look at some of the data more closely. First, we'll take a look at Column J, status by round. There were only seven first-round picks, because Hamilton forfeited its fifth-overall pick by choosing Weber State OL Zac Carlson in last year's supplemental draft. Carlson was released by the Tiger-Cats this summer and is now on the Stampeders' practice roster). Of the seven first-round selections, three (Saskatchewan LB Shomari Williams, Toronto OT Joe Epperle and Calgary K Rob Maver) remain on active rosters. OL Kristian Matte is on Montreal's nine-game injured list, while Edmonton DL Brian Bulcke and B.C. OL Danny Watkins have returned to NCAA programs Stanford and Baylor respectively for more seasoning. The final first-round selection, Argonauts' pick Cory Greenwood, became one of the very few Canadians or past CFL players to make an NFL 53-man roster last week, surviving the Kansas City Chiefs' final cuts.
Unlike the NFL, though, where draft position often seems to play a critical role in what players land on a team's roster (particularly in their first year; even high-round busts tend to hang on for a couple of years), the results are remarkably consistent round by round. Of the eight second-round picks, six are on CFL rosters in one way or another. B.C. WR Shawn Gore and Toronto K Grant Shaw are both on their teams' active rosters, while three more players are on their teams' injured list and Edmonton DB Saleem Borhot is on the Eskimos' nine-game injured list. Montreal's two selections are the only players not currently on CFL rosters; LB Curtis Dublanko has returned to the NCAA for another year with North Dakota, while DE Chima Ihekwoaba was recently cut by the NFL's Detroit Lions and doesn't appear to have landed anywhere yet.
The third round also has six out of eight players on CFL rosters (three active, two practice, one IR), with the other two back in the NCAA. The fourth round has the widest spread, with four players on CFL rosters (one active, one practice, one IR, one nine-game), one back in CIS, one in the NCAA, one cut by the NFL and one hurt in a CFL training camp. Three fifth-round players made CFL rosters (two active, one practice), with four returning to CIS schools and a fifth heading back to the NCAA. The sixth round saw four players make CFL rosters (two active, one practice, one IR), with two more heading back to CIS, another player returning to the NCAA and the final player going to junior football. Overall, 27 of the 47 selected players (57 per cent) are on CFL rosters in one way or another, with 13 of those players on active rosters. Eight players are back in the NCAA and seven are playing CIS football, with the remaining five in other situations.
It's also worth looking at the results by team. Toronto landed the most active players, with three of their nine picks making the active roster. Greenwood is in the NFL, while two other players are in CIS, one is in the NCAA and the other two are without a team at the moment. B.C. also had nine picks, and two players landed on their active roster and three on their practice roster. They released a sixth, WR Nate Binder, who's now on the Edmonton practice roster. LB Joash Gesse is on their IR, while top pick OT Danny Watkins is back in the NCAA and WR Matt Chapdelaine (son of B.C. offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine) is in the CJFL. Of Montreal's seven picks, only converted CIS QB Marc-Olivier Brouillette (now playing LB) is on the active roster. Two players are on the nine-game list, two are back in CIS, one is in the NCAA and Ihekwoaba is currently without a team. Calgary had six picks, and landed two active players, two on IR and two in the NCAA.
The remaining teams only had four selections in this year's draft. In Edmonton, only converted QB Corbin Sharun made the active roster as a DB; two others returned to the NCAA and one is on the nine-game list. Hamilton also had four picks; FB Samuel Fournier made the active roster while DT Eddie Steele made the practice roster. DB Chris Rwabukamba returned to the NCAA, while the team released K Justin Palardy (who's now starting for Winnipeg). Saskatchewan only has top overall pick Williams on their active roster; Jordan Sisco is on IR and their two other picks have returned to CIS. Of Of Winnipeg's four players, DL Christopher Greaves is the only one on the active roster. Two other players are on IR and Anthony Woodson is back in CIS.
The Argonauts nabbed the most active players, but their other selections may be further away from contributing. B.C. picked the most players who remain on CFL rosters in one way or another, but they were also working with nine picks. On a percentage basis, B.C. and Calgary were the most efficient, with 66 per cent of their players winding up on CFL rosters. In many of these cases, it's too early to tell how players are going to pan out, as most of them are still in situations where they could eventually wind up contributing to a CFL team. Thus, it's difficult to thoroughly evaluate anyone's draft record at this point. The numbers would seem to bear out that the Canadian draft is taking on more importance, though. With 28 per cent of selected players on active rosters, 57 per cent of players winding up on CFL rosters in one way or another and many of the 43 per cent of remaining players perhaps in position to contribute down the road, it looks like the CFL has come a long way from the days of drafting dead players.