TORONTO — With a full season in the books since the 2012 CFL Canadian Draft, we look back on who’s made the biggest impact so far after being called up on draft day.
There were a number of breakout stars in just their first season, from first overall pick Ben Heenan and his role on the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offensive line to Most Outstanding Rookie runner-up Jabar Westerman.
Here are last off-season’s draft picks that made the biggest impact throughout this campaign:
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When the mammoth 22-year-old offensive lineman was picked first overall by the Riders, he wasn’t expected to step into a prominent role with the o-line right off the bat. But, when injuries plagued the Green and White through training camp, Ben Heenen was called upon to step in.
It was no big deal for the Regina native, who went on to start the majority of games at right guard for the Riders, providing strong run blocking for outstanding rookie Kory Sheets and helping to keep Darian Durant standing upright.
Head Coach Corey Chamblin’s noted a few times that as far as he’s concerned, his first overall pick isn’t even a rookie. That’s high praise for a kid straight out of university, going against every day stars on opposing defensive lines.
Despite facing stiff competition on a defence loaded with some of the league’s brightest superstars, second overall pick Jabar Westerman found a way to crack the starting lineup back in mid-August.
That fact alone is impressive enough, but so far he’s rewarded his coaches for their faith in the rookie, as the Brampton, Ontario native has fit in just fine on the Lions’ interior line.
The 23-year-old finished the season with four sacks and 14 tackles, eventually earning a nomination for Most Outstanding Rookie and finishing runner-up to the Bombers’ Chris Matthews.
Westerman looks every bit as intimidating as anyone else on the Lions’ defensive line, which says a lot considering some of the names he lines up alongside.
Drafted as a running back, who could’ve imagined that 11th overall pick Patrick Lavoie would make such an impact on one of the league’s most celebrated offences of the last decade and a half?
The Alouettes became a bit of a trend-setter of sorts in 2012 so far, using the tight end as an important part of their offence, especially in the red zone. The 24-year-old has played a big role in letting that happen, building chemistry with Anthony Calvillo to become a go-to guy from inside scoring range.
Lavoie finished the season with four receiving touchdowns and 307 yards on 33 catches this season, and is quickly emerging as a household name for a Montreal Alouettes offence that continues to find new ways to score points.
The numbers aren’t going to blow anyone away, but the role Shamawd Chambers has played in the Eskimos’ offence can’t be ignored.
Since the 23-year-old native of Markham, Ontario joined the Eskimos, he’s found a way to make an immediate impact. Used sparingly in the opening couple of weeks, he was called upon to play a bigger role when Adarius Bowman went down in game number two with a season-ending knee injury.
Chambers didn’t seem to miss a beat with his added responsibility, making key catches for the Esks and scoring his first career touchdown in the third week of the season against the Bombers. He finished the season with 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with his own partial highlight real.
His ability to fit in on the Edmonton offence likely also made receiver Greg Carr expendable, allowing the team to move him to Saskatchewan in exchange for offensive line help.