American Football International

CFL Draft set to kick off Thursday, April 30, 8p ET (2a CET)

Dreams will come true for Canadian football’s top prospects on Thursday, April 30 beginning at 8 p.m. ET (2 a.m. CET) as 2020 CFL Draft kicks off.

Before the event gets underway, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will deliver a special message to football fans across the country. All selections will be announced on the Canadian sports network, TSN by Farhan Lalji from his at-home studio, starting with the No. 1 overall pick by the Calgary Stampeders.

A total of eight rounds will be held and by the end, 73 new players will be welcomed into the CFL.

The Calgary Stampeders have the first pick overall (through the trade of QB Nick Arbuckle) followed by the Toronto Argonauts (2), BC Lions (3), Edmonton Eskimos (4), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5) (through 2018 trade for Johnny Manziel), Ottawa REDBLACKS (6), Saskatchewan Roughriders (7), Hamilton (8) again, and Toronto (9) (through Zach Collaros trade) again.

The first two rounds will only be available to watch in Canada while rounds 3-7 will be streamed live at CFL.ca starting approx. 10 p.m. ET (4 a.m. CET).

Global prospects

Although the global players will have their own combine and draft just prior to training camp this year, there is one prospect who managed to gain eligibility for the CFL Draft. Alain Pae from the Czech Republic, who played for the Prague Lions before moving to Canada and suiting up for the Ottawa Gee Gees in 2017, has gained Canadian citizenship and at the last minute become eligible for the 2020 CFL Draft. He put up outstanding numbers for the Gee Gees during his one season of play but despite not having played since then he has garnered some interest, even from NFL scouts. He could possibly get picked in one of the later rounds.

History of the CFL Draft

The CFL Draft has been a league staple for nearly 70 years. There was an experimental draft held in 1952 by the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union — now known as the CFL’s East Division. The first league draft took place a year later. Through the first four years of the draft being implemented, 130 players were selected.

The draft was expanded to include all nine teams in 1956.

In the history of the CFL Draft, 3,847 players have been selected, with that number being bumped up to 4,095 with supplemental picks. Among those players selected, 3,180 of them have hailed from Canadian schools, while 898 have come from the NCAA. Seventeen other individuals have come from elsewhere. That equals out to 78 percent of prospects coming from national programs while the other 22 percent coming from down south — under one percent come from other locations.

Quarterbacks rare draft picks

Quarterback is generally looked at as the most important position on the field, however, the CFL Draft has seen very few players taken as the years have gone on. In fact, over the last 20 years, there have only been 10 pivots who have heard their names called.

In the past decade alone, there have been just four quarterbacks to get drafted: Brad Sinopoli (2011), Brandon Bridge and Andrew Buckley (2015) and Michael O’Connor (2019).

Skill positions high on team draft lists

Sticking with the offensive side, receivers and running backs are always at a premium. Those two positions saw the most picks during the 1970s. A record 44 players were taken in 1976, 34 in 1977 and 32 in 1974. The largest total since was in 1985, with 30 individuals being selected. That was also the year that offensive lineman — and future CFL commissioner — Randy Ambrosie was selected second overall by the Calgary Stampeders.

In 1988, a record seven kickers were selected in the draft. The top two individuals that came off the board were multiple-time divisional and league All-Stars Tony Martino and Mark McLoughlin.

Offensive line a valuable commodity

The 2018 CFL Draft saw a run of offensive lineman that hadn’t been seen in over 20 years. While 1987 saw a record 26 O-lineman go, 20 names were called two years ago, making it the largest total since.

Seven of the first nine picks in 2018 were offensive linemen. Trey Rutherford went second overall to Montreal, and he would be followed by Peter Godber, Mark Korte, Dakoda Shepley, Darius Ciraco, Ryan Sceviour and Ryan Hunter in the first round.

A look back at last year’s draft

Just one year ago, the record for most defensive lineman was broken, with 20 players getting their names called.

Laval pass-rusher Mathieu Betts was the first man off the board at the position, while Jonathan Kongbo, Robbie Smith, Nathan Anderson and Vincent Desjardins followed in the first two rounds.

2019 was also the year that saw the most NCAA prospects taken during the 2010’s. Oklahoma State’s Shane Richards, Tennessee’s Kongbo, Arkansas State’s Justin McInnis, Kansas’ Alex Fontana and Connecticut’s Hergy Mayala were all selected in the first round last year.