Three seasons later, the Class of 2010 shows the importance of the CFL draft

Andrew Bucholtz

Much of the CFL offseason is spent discussing the upcoming draft of Canadian players, but just how much do these drafts really mean? I've discussed the growing importance of Canadian talent many times, but it certainly helps to have some tangible evidence of that. Of course, that isn't always easy to find; while some of the players chosen in the 2012 draft have already made notable impacts, the CFL's NBA-style approach to slowly developing draft picks (combined with many players staying in the CIS or NCAA ranks for a season after their draft year) means it often takes a few years to fully evaluate a draft class. Perhaps the ideal one to examine at the moment is the 2010 draft, as three full CFL seasons have been played since then and most players have either found roles or fallen out of the league. I examined that draft's early results systematically in September 2010, and looked at a few of the top players from that class earlier this month, but a thorough revision of the 2010 study was required to see that draft's overall results. Here it is:

A few methodological notes:

—The status column reflects where each player's at right now, updated using the most accurate information I could find. Active means with the team that drafted them, unless specified otherwise. Overall, 31 of the 47 players selected (66 per cent) are active (five with teams other than the one that drafted them) and two are in the NFL. The remainder have been cut, except for Conor Elliott (who retired a few months after being drafted).

—The "Active as?" column is an attempt to show just how important each player is to their current team. It was compiled using their position on their team's most recent depth chart (or if they were injured for that game, their position on the most recent depth chart they were active for). Most of the positional shorthand is self-explanatory; one note is that I use ROLB (right outside linebacker) and LOLB (left outside linebacker) instead of the weak/strong alignment favoured by many, as players are listed as left or right on CFL depth charts; where outside players set up often changes, though.

—The summary column includes a breakdown of where each round's picks are now.

—A starter is not necessarily better than a backup, as positional and team depth considerations matter, as well as the player's performance on special teams For example, Montreal backup middle linebacker Marc-Olivier Brouillette might be more valuable than several of the starters on this list; he's a key special-teams player, sees snaps on defence and is backing up one of the league's best players in Shea Emry. The starter information is just included to give you an idea of where each player fits in with his team.

What's remarkable about the 2010 draft is not just the success of high picks (five of the seven first-rounders are active, three as starters, while the other two are in the NFL), but how many later picks have also found success. That's particularly notable in the fifth round, where five of the eight players chosen are active and three (Saskatchewan right tackle Patrick Neufeld, B.C. safety Cauchy Muamba and Winnipeg kicker Justin Palardy) are starters. The most notable late-round find might be Winnipeg's Chris Greaves, though; taken 45th overall out of 47 draftees, he's currently the Bombers' starting left guard.

Overall, this class shows just how important a strong draft can be for teams; the 2010 draft has produced 31 active players, 13 of which are currently starters and several more of which may get there eventually. The slow-development hypothesis stands up here, too; it's notable that despite plenty of these players being cut since 2010, the overall percentage of players on CFL rosters has improved from 57 per cent to 66 per cent since my September 2010 analysis (and many of that 57 per cent were on practice rosters or injured reserve; there are some injuries in this list, but the only player who was on a practice roster at the end of the season was Edmonton's Steven Turner. Drafting well matters, and there's tremendous Canadian talent to be had, as the 2010 draft demonstrates.