April 14, 2022

The Art of the Steal: 10 hidden CFL Draft gems


With the 2022 CFL Draft just around the corner, CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson checks in with 10 draft day steals.

10. Luther Hakunavanhu
Round 5 | Pick 44 | 2021

While it’s still too early to confidently say the man of many vowels will become a certified draft steal, but all the signs point in that direction as the Calgary Stampeders worked their late round magic again in 2021.

Hakunavanhu quickly became a big play threat for the Stamps averaging over 25 yards per catch and displaying the kind of potential in a shortened season that really makes you wonder how high his ceiling can be with a full training camp and more playbook familiarity.

9. Justin Howell
Round 7 | Pick 55 | 2018

When you take a defensive back at 55th overall you are not expecting much more than a couple years of special teams diligence and the occasional spot duty substitution.

» Nye: My favourite CFL Draft picks of the last decade
Cauz: My all-time CFL-drafted roster
» View: 2022 CFL Draft Order

Instead Howell has carved out a space for himself in the REDBLACKS defensive secondary rotation in recent years while playing a leading role in special teams coordinator Bob Dyce’s effective return and coverage game.

8. Stavros Katsantonis
Round 4 | Pick 36 | 2020

The Bakersfield Bandit has always been a brash and entertaining player capable of reading the eyes of a quarterback, flipping his hips and covering more ground than expected. As the fifth defensive back off the board in 2020, Katsantonis has arguably contributed as much as any of the other four through his lone season of 2021, including an interception in the Eastern Semi-Final victory for Hamilton over Montreal.

7. Shane Bergman
Round 6 | Pick 48 | 2013

Bergman didn’t wow with testing or dominant film, but he found his way into the right role in Calgary while spending every snap of his professional career in Calgary before retirement in 2020.

In that stretch Bergman played a prominent role in helping Bo Levi Mitchell ascend the CFL’s all-time passing charts, all from 48th overall.

6. Kurleigh Gittens Jr.
Round 3 | Pick 23 | 2019

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

Kurleigh Gittens Jr. has always known he was destined to be a professional football player. He’s dominated at every level including a stunning 2018 season with Laurier before getting selected by the Toronto Argonauts where he has worked quietly to establish himself behind the likes of Derel Walker and Eric Rogers.

Suddenly in 2021 Kurleigh came to life and is now firmly in the conversation for best Canadian receiver as a third round pick.

5. Kwaku Boateng
Round 5 | Pick 41 | 2017

As a university player Kwaku Boateng was highly regarded, but his height (six-foot-two) and relatively low weight was nitpicked as he entered the draft despite testing well. He fell all the way to the fifth round where Edmonton snapped up Boateng and quickly set him loose to chase CFL quarterbacks mad all over the field.

After a disappointing 2021 campaign, a change of scenery was in need and he found it relocating to Ottawa where I expect the REDBLACKS will quickly congratulate themselves for targeting the now established draft day steal.

4. Sean Thomas Erlington
Round 8 | Pick 66 | 2017

Injuries have played an unfortunate role in the story of Sean Thomas Erlington’s career. In one four game stretch, when healthy, at the start of 2019 he rushed for a total of 224 yards and caught 193 yards through the air before taking a helmet to the knee in Montreal that would end his season.

Alongside Don Jackson, the 66th overall pick in 2017 is refreshed and ready to make a bigger impact than ever this summer.

3. Kian Schaffer-Baker
Round 4 | Pick 30 | 2020

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

My partner in the booth Duane Forde called this one from the get go. Schaffer-Baker’s frame, hands and athleticism while bouncing off larger, more compact bodies makes him unique as a Canadian.

His breakout stretch of 2021 saw Schaffer-Baker tally 21 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown in just four games. At 30th overall, GM Jeremy O’Day and the Riders have found a cornerstone Canadian pass-catcher.

2. Brad Sinopoli
Round 4 | Pick 29 | 2011

At 29th overall and drafted as a quarterback, it’s difficult to define Brad Sinopoli as a draft steal because nobody knew for sure he’d ever change positions or adapt the way he did. But the stats speak for themselves, namely having 116 catches in 2018 to become the most productive Canadian in a single season to go along with being a three-time Division All-Star, one-time CFL All-Star, and a former Hec Crighton winner at quarterback.

Recording four-straight seasons of 1,000 yards receiving as a drafted quarterback and Canadian? Special.

1. Bo Lokombo
Round 3 | Pick 21 | 2013

When you fall to the third round – albeit somewhat due to fear he’d stick in the NFL – and then become the top Canadian in the game as awarded in 2021, you are THE steal of the last decade.

His hard hitting, downhill style was always fascinating and made him stick out, but the team’s commitment to Lokombo, alongside 2020 1st overall pick Jordan Williams, has really changed the game for the Lions starting weak side linebacker and one of the true faces of any franchise.

The comment system on this website is now powered by the CFL.ca Forums. We'd love for you to be part of the conversation; click the Start Discussion button below to register an account and join the community!