Which CFL teams have benefitted the most from the 2021 Draft?

The 2021 CFL National Draft took place on May 4 this year, with the teams involved looking back over two years of talent to bring in fresh blood to their rosters. The order of selection was of course random, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats getting the first overall pick.

The draft then worked in a snake format, with the team who picked last in the previous round, then picking first in the next round. Thanks to a trade with the Montreal Alouettes, Hamilton picked last in the first round, and they also had the final overall pick in the draft.

In fact, along with the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton had the most picks in the draft with a total of seven, bolstering their chances of finishing top of the East Division table for a second season in a row.

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The Tiger Cats went up first in the draft and made a fairly surprising pick in tight end Jake Burt from Boston College, who is the first player listed in that position to be picked first in over two decades.

Typically, CFL teams will make picks with a view to building a strong roster in the future, rather than bringing in players who will immediately walk into their starting line-up. That’s not the case with Burt, who spent last season with the New England Patriots in their practice squad.

At 6’3’’ and almost 250lbs, he has the size to make an impact and made 23 receptions for 307 yards at college. He’s had a few injury problems over the past five years or so, but he’s a solid addition to Hamilton’s roster.

The question is whether they really needed him as they already have Nikola Kalinic, who is an excellent option in that position.

They also picked up line-backer Nick Cross in the first round, which was somewhat of a risk given that Cross is coming off of a nasty ACL injury, which followed a torn Achilles in 2018. However, he was named a First-Team All-Canadian at strong-side line-backer, so clearly he has the sort of talent the Tiger-Cats need to try and end their Grey Cup drought.

The Next Round’s Picks

They also rolled the dice with second-round pick Deane Leonard, who is drawing the attention of NFL scouts. If they can keep hold of him, Leonard proved his class at Calgary, where he was a two-time U Sports First-Team All-Canadian at cornerback.

Arguably Hamilton’s best draft pick was Central Michigan’s Mohamed Diallo, who was somehow still available in the third round. Though he didn’t pick up football until high school, Diallo received offers from numerous top college programs thanks to his electric style and undeniable talent.

Anybody Else?

Though Hamilton made some smart picks, Edmonton had an excellent draft this year. Things started off a little shaky when their first pick was the enormous Cole Nelson from Alberta, who likely would have still been available in later rounds.

However, they made a near-perfect choice in round two when they scooped up Calgary’s Grant McDonald, who should plug their hole at line-backer. Alongside his brother Jack at Calgary, McDonald recorded 83 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception enroute to a Vanier Cup in 2019.

Their acquisition of running back Deonte Glover was also an interesting one, given that they were planning to run an American in that role. Glover is a Canadian national due to his mother’s citizenship.

At Shepherd University, he ruled the roost as a senior, posting 2,098 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns in 2019.

Receiver Dominic Johnson is a clear development pick for Edmonton, as the 6’5’’ giant is clearly still getting better and properly finding his feet. He’s only caught 11 passes in his career so far but has the frame and situational awareness to grow into a solid CFL player.

So, while Hamilton looked to reap more immediate benefits with their draft picks, Edmonton appears to be building for the future and could have some seriously talented and developed players in a few years’ time.

The other team who had a successful draft is the B.C. Lions, who picked up the likes of Daniel Joseph, Alaric Jackson and Ben Hladik, all of whom will add some much-needed energy to their offensive line.

Hladik in particular was a steal for the Lions, who passed on him in an earlier round only to nab him in the third round of selections.

Montreal only took five picks during the draft and had one of the more underwhelming selections of players this year, raising questions about their prospects for the next few years.

This year’s CFL draft was always going to be a little different given that there wasn’t one last year, but several teams took advantage of the longer period of eligibility for players and bolstered their rosters with exciting talent.

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