2019 CFL Draft Preview

cfldraftThere has always been a clear focus in the CFL draft which is quite the opposite of the focus south of the border.

Where the NFL sees skill players in abundance the CFL tends not to see the same level of talent in the draft every year.

The CFL draft is all about bringing in new Canadian talent to the league but the reality of football in Canada provides a lot less of those skill players.

The best athletes in Canada don’t typically choose football las their sport and if they do they are often looked at by the NFL before any CFL teams get a chance.

Despite the efforts by the CFL to grow the game and bring more attention to the sport in order to provide more talent it is hard to compete with players from the USA.

Athletes are everywhere in the USA and those who can’t quite make it in the NFL have an option of playing in Canada.

These are often the star players for the CFL with players that got overlooked or just didn’t make a big enough impression counting as some of the most impressive stars in the CFL.

These players have all been playing for decades by the time they get to the CLF whereas Canadians don’t usually have the same experience.

So when the draft comes teams aren’t necessarily looking for those breakout skill player to fill their rosters with the knowledge that they can find talented players in the USA.

The CFL Draft is instead used to stock the less glorified positions where there is plenty of players to choose from.

To deal with the quota of Canadians in the league, teams look to find the best lineman that they can find.

With football counting among the most popular sports in the Prairies, there tends to be a good amount of farm-strong young men to choose from.

It is often where teams stack their Canadian talent in order to reach that quota on offence while they look at other places for the skilled players.

It can create a big demand for linemen in the draft and for the most part, these linemen do take the focus throughout the draft.

Meanwhile, the skilled players come through every now and then while the most important position remains relatively ignored.

Canadian quarterbacks have always been the biggest question in the CFL since Russ Jackson left the game.

There has yet to be another Canadian who made as big an impact on his team and the league as Jackson did.

Every year it seems like the league gets closer and closer to finding that next Canadian pivot who can truly do something on the field.

Brandon Bridge has been that guy in the current CFL but has never been able to grab or hold a starting role.

Bridge was clearly the best QB prospect to come into the CFL draft in decades but he wasn’t taken until the fourth round of the draft.

It was partially because of the interest from NFL teams but also the fact that teams don’t value Canadian quarterbacks.

They are not a part of the quota and so far no Canadian has made a big enough impression to earn a starting role since Jackson.

That could come to an end as the latest in a long line of potential Canadian QBs will make his way into the draft.

It has been said so many times before that this could be the time that a Canadian finally steps forward and makes an impact in the most important position and it is being said again.

Michael O’Connor is by far the best Canadian QB prospect possibly ever as the Orleans, Ontario native went through many of the steps that major American quarterbacks go through.football-sidebar

O’Connor attended the IMG Academy, a school created to produce NFL talent, then received a scholarship at Penn State.

By all accounts, it seems as though he would take over the reins in time but a coaching change led him to reconsider his time in the states and head to UBC.

While at UBC he led the Thunderbirds to a Vanier Cup and three Hardy Trophy appearances proving he came as advertised.

This is the quarterback that teams have been waiting for as he was built for a young age to be a quarterback at the pro level.

Whether or not he will get a real shot at being a star in the CFL is up for debate as teams tend to not value Canadians in the position.

The fact that he signed a deal with the Seattle Seahawks after the NFL draft won’t help his case in the CFL draft.

He will attend their training camp but with little to no chance of him getting any significant time, it is more of a tryout for a potential job somewhere else.

That could keep CFL teams away as they won’t want to spend a high pick on someone who might not step on a CFL field this season.

Some team will take the risk though and will draft O’Connor the real question is whether or not that team will take a chance early.

In any normal draft, O’Connor becomes the top pick for a team like Montreal who has been looking for a QB since Anthony Calvillo retired.

But this is the CFL draft where convention has to be thrown out of the window due to the number of factors that need to be considered.

Skill players are not the focus as the draft is meant instead to restock the quotas for teams needing those Canadian players.

There is always a lot of talent available for these teams to get great Canadian talent but it often comes in the form of that position that nobody pays much attention to.

Among the majority of those players, there are some players who will look to get their spot on a CFL team and make an impact in those great positions.

Those great linemen and role players will all be taken this year but for once the talk may surrounding the most important position as everyone wonders where O’Connor will go and whether or not he will have an impact in 2019 and beyond.

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