FOOTBALL: Who are the top U SPORTS players in the CFL Draft?

Toronto, ON- With the annual CFL draft fast approaching, we look at five U SPORTS athletes that you need to keep an eye on during the Thursday evening draft.

Cameron Lawson- Queens 

(Jeff Chan)

Considered to be one of the best pass rushers in all of U SPORTS this season, Queen’s defensive lineman Cameron Lawson has been a force on the line with the Gaels. He was named to the 2019 All-Canadian team and was named the OUA’s lineman of the year. The fourth-year player stands at 6’3 and weighs 280 pounds and has shown that he can play multiple positions over the course of his university career. Scouts have commented that Lawson has an already pro body for the position and that his ability to play multiple positions is a major asset. He also has sound technical structure and smoothness to his game. Over the course of the 2019 season, Lawson had a total of 16 tackles, 11 of which were solo as well as 2.5 sacks over the course of eight games. Lawson is projected to be the 15th pick in the draft according to the CFL’s final draft rankings making him one of the top-ranked players who played in U SPORTS in the draft. Some draft insiders see teams taking him earlier in the draft around the 13th pick to fill a need on the Line. A good candidate for this is the Edmonton Eskimos who could use more of a Canadian insurgence in their defense. 

Kétel Assé– Laval

(Laval Rouge et Or Athletics)

Ketel Asse is a modern-day giant and at 6’7 and 300 pounds the Haitian Native has been a brick wall for Laval. The 25-year-old has started in every one of Laval’s games for the last three seasons helping lead the team to a Vanier Cup (National championship trophy) in 2018. In the same year, the offensive lineman was named to U SPORTS first offensive team allstar and an RSEQ offensive all-star.

As well in 2019, he was named to the fist offensive team as well as the star team in the RSEQ. In Marshall Fergusons’ Mock draft, he has Asse going second overall, not a surprise to many as he was heavily scouted by multiple NFL teams and was invited to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this last December. A perfect landing spot for Asse would be the Toronto Argos, as the team desperately needs help at the O-line position. He would fit in nicely working with Toronto’s first overall selection from the 2019 draft in Shane Richards making the once week O-line one of immense upside.  

Dylan Giffen- Western 

(Western University Mustangs Athletic Dept.)

The Western Mustangs have been the breeding grounds for many of the CFL’s top players and been a staple of consistency in OUA football. Their last player that has been catch scouts eyes have been on is an offensive lineman named Dylan Giffen. The 6’8, 330 pounds Strathroy, Ontario native has been a source of stability on the Mustangs powerful offense. His size and blocking ability have been key for the Mustangs offense, and a valuable blocker when it comes to the run. While most scouts don’t see him as a plug and play player, his natural ability and size give him the potential to be a strong CFL lineman with some more training and coaching. On the CFL scouting Bureaus latest spring rankings Giffen was ranked 16 but with top prospect Carter O’donald being signed by the NFL’s Colts expect him to go higher tomorrow night epically if teams are looking to fill a need on their O-Line depth. 

Noah Hallet- McMaster 

(McMaster Marauders Athletics Dept.)

Having strong defensive backs in the CFL is key to any team, and thats because of the prominence that the throwing game has in the three-down system. Considered to be one of the best true Defensive backs, Mcmaster Maurader Noah Hallett stands out in the 2020 draft class as one of the best in this position. In the 2019 campaign, Hallett made 29.5 tackles, 1 sack, and four interceptions (second in the OUA) in his eight games. As a Captin Hallett helped lead McMaster to an appearance in the National Championships and a Yates cup win over the powerhouse Western Mustangs. The 5’11 190 pounds DB was expected by scouts to be a combine darling with his excellent speed and lateral jumping ability that makes up for his hight. The DB came more onto the radar of many scouts after a strong showing at the 2019 East-West Bowl. Hallett is projected to go in the second round where many believe he will be reunited with his former head coach Greg Knox now the defensive back coach with the Ottowa RedBlacks, but with the signing of  Marc-Antoine Dequoy with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, DB options are slimmer meaning a team could take a chance on him and draft him higher in the first round.  

Brian Harlimana- Montreal

 Brian Harelimana has caught many scouts’ eyes during his play in the playoffs for the Montreal Carabins. The 6’2 200-pound Linebacker has been a contributor to the team since game one. In his rookie year, Harelimana made 22 tackles and a sack. In his 29 career games as a member of the Carabins, he was able to do it all, posting 112.5 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, and a pair of interceptions. He was also named to the RSEQ Defensive All-Star Team in his final three years while earning U SPORTS Second-Team All-Canadian honors in 2019. He also lead Montreal to a Vanier Cup in November. Scouts call Harelimana a flat out playmaker on the field with Pro level tackling and quick speed for his size. Haremlimana is considered by many to be the best Lineman in the draft and in TSNs Marshall Ferguson’s mock draft he has the Quebec native going 16th in the draft tomorrow night.

Late round steal:

Trivel Pinto- UBC

Bob Frid/ UBC Communications)

UBC Thunderbirds Trivel Pinto has an undeniable talent at the wide receiver position. In the 2018 season, before he was suspended Pinto had 1040 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. In the same season, he was named a first-team All-Canadian and a Canada West all-star. But despite this,Pinto has had some issues off the field. At the end of the 2018 season, Pinto after taking a drug test has it reveal the presence of cocaine, a prohibited stimulant under the code of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. He was banned for two years and has been unable to practice or play with his team during this time. 3Downnation had him going 16th overall in their April first rankings. Pinto is a player that will need a team to look past his checkered history and give him a chance to prove himself in pro football. That’s why I think that he could work with the Montreal Alouettes, who have a history of taking on these players. Plus it would give them another serious weapon to go alongside Eugene Lewis as a good future one-two combo in the wideout spot. Another team that could take him late in the draft is the Toronto Argonauts who, to say the least need to add high-end talent to their roster and getting a former all Canadian in the late stages of the first round could be key especially if he becomes a starter making the teams seven national player quota a lot easier to fill.  

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