July 15, 2022

Ferguson: Way too early CFL All-Star team

The Canadian Press

While the 2022 season is very much still in its infancy, those who watch most, if not all, of the games can see identities taking shape from coast-to-coast.

The Riders and Stampeders run game is rising above the rest, Rourke’s weekly announcement that his accuracy and playmaking are here to stay and of course Collaros turning little known Dalton Schoen into a Greg Ellingson clone are just a few that come to mind through these eyes.

While hardware gifting season is thankfully months away, it’s never too early to take a look at who has taken the early lead in my mind for a 2022 All Star nod.

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QB – Nathan Rourke, BC Lions


While he was handed a tough lesson last Saturday by reigning Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros, there is no quarterback in the CFL more impressive than second year Lions leader Nathan Rourke.

The ball placement, quick release and athletic ability have all been on display with some bumps in the road that have given the fans the chance to see how he responds to adversity that really never appeared in his first two outings.

Bo Levi Mitchell looks like his usual dangerous self and Collaros keeps winning but for my money on a throw-to-throw basis, Rourke has been the best so far this season.

RB – Jamal Morrow, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Jamal Morrow leads the CFL in rushing yards through the first five weeks of the season (Riderville.com).

Despite sharing the backfield with Frankie Hickson, Saskatchewan’s Jamal Morrow has more touches than Calgary’s Ka’Deem Carey but a lower yards per carry average and fewer touchdowns than Carey. How do you separate the two?

Based more on eyes than numbers, I lean towards Carey thanks to his consistent violence running the football and refusal to be stopped, but Morrow catching 17 of 18 targets and averaging 10.7 yards per catch tips the scales for me here.

REC – Dominique Rhymes, BC Lions
REC – Greg Ellingson and Dalton Schoen, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
REC – Malik Henry, Calgary Stampeders
REC – Kian Schaffer-Baker, Saskatchewan Roughriders


In a year where the Lions passing game burst out of the starting blocks I assumed Lucky Whitehead or Bryan Burnham would take the lead, but it’s Dominique Rhymes instead.

Rhymes has been as good as any receiver across the entire CFL to start this year, holding court with the likes of Ellingson and Dalton Schoen, whose statistics through Winnipeg’s 5-0 start are eerily similar.

In Calgary Kamar Jorden and Reggie Begelton have been strangely quiet, but that is opening opportunities for Luther Hakunavanhu, Richard Sindani and Malik Henry, who led all CFL receivers with 388 receiving yards entering Week 6.

Finally, while the Riders run game has been the story, their best receiver has been Kian Schaffer-Baker who has caught 25 of 30 targets and reached the end zone three times already this season. He’s definitely deserving one of these coveted five receiver All-Star spots.

Centre – Sean McEwen, Calgary Stampeders

Sean McEwan, now in his second season with Calgary has proven to be an anchor on the Stampeders offensive line (Larry McDougal/CFL.ca).

Sean McEwan is solid, steady and a great communicator. There is no great mystery to what makes McEwen a great CFL centre and that has shone through to start this season.

Guard – Patrick Neufeld, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Guard – Logan Ferland, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Offensive linemen Patrick Neufeld is now in his eighth season with the Blue Bombers, has played in 125 CFL games (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca).

While the Riders and Bombers offensive lines feel like they’re doing less road grading than past years, they’re still moving people up front and carving out distinct identities as run based teams, especially on first down.

The key to both clubs is their guards with Logan Ferland getting the slight nod over Evan Johnson in Regina for me, thanks to his superior physicality, and Neufeld earning the nod via his senior leadership and ability to work a defender’s hips away from the running lane.

Tackle – Derek Dennis, Calgary Stampeders
Tackle – Stanley Bryant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

In 11 season in the CFL, Staley Bryant has appeared in 175 games (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca).

BC Lions left tackle Joel Figueroa certainly has a case to be made here as the Lions enter Week 6 with a CFL-low three sacks, but that line as a whole has solidified whereas Stanley Bryant is a one man wall with new starter Geoff Gray alongside while Calgary’s Derek Dennis can block down and get to the second level of a defence with the best of them thanks to his unique size and athleticism combination.

Defensive End – Pete Robertson, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Defensive End – Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Pete Robertson‘s seven sacks lead the CFL to start the year (Riderville.com)

I really like what Elks end Thomas Costigan has shown in his last few games, he remains on my watch list for the season, but Pete Robertson has been utterly dominant before his foot injury and Willie Jefferson continues to make life difficult with a couple of sacks, an interception returned for touchdown, knockdowns and general quarterback annoyance.

Saskatchewan’s A.C. Leonard has been making plenty of plays in that front four, but Willie’s overall impact gives him the advantage over both Leonard and teammate Jackson Jeffcoat, for now.

Defensive Tackle – Anthony Lanier, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Defensive Tackle – Michael Wakefield, Montreal Alouettes

Anthony Lanier’s four sacks trail only his teammate, Pete Robertson for the second most in the league (Riderville.com).

Mike Rose consistently influences defences but based on production Montreal’s Michael Wakefield has been as active as any interior defensive lineman this season – despite getting ejected in Saskatchewan – and Anthony Lanier leads the CFL’s interior lineman with four sacks behind only teammate Pete Robertson, who holds the league lead with seven.

Linebacker – Larry Dean, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Linebacker – Cameron Judge, Calgary Stampeders

Through five weeks of play, Cameron Judge‘s 21 tackles and two sacks already best his totals from the 2021 season (The Canadian Press).

Winnipeg’s Adam Bighill continues to make plays which won’t show up on the stat sheet as teams increasingly try to scheme avoiding his incredible knack for getting in the backfield, but Cameron Judge’s production is off the charts right now, and how can you not love seeing Larry Dean back on his feet leading the CFL in tackles after an Achilles injury cancelled his 2021 season!?

Cover Linebacker – Derrick Moncrief, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Derrick Moncrief’s three interceptions tie Saskatchewan defensive back, Nick Marshall for the team lead (Matt Smith/CFL.ca).

Titus Wall has been a revelation in Calgary, but three interceptions at cover linebacker for Moncrief is special, tying him for the CFL lead with three defensive backs. Add in 11 defensive tackles and one on special teams you get an All-Star caliber start to 2022.

Cornerback – Money Hunter, Ottawa REDBLACKS
Cornerback – Nick Marshall, Saskatchewan Roughriders


In an off-season where the REDBLACKS searched out ball hawks in free agency and the draft no player has been better money spent than Hunter. I’ve been fortunate to call most of his games so far this season and he’s maintained the ability to stay honest and not allow double moves over the top while always willing to jump a route.

In Saskatchewan Nick Marshall remains one of the best at forcing quarterback errors and making opponents pay by taking it all the way back for six.

Halfback – Nick Taylor, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Halfback – T.J. Lee, BC Lions

Defensive back, T.J. Lee‘s two interceptions lead the BC Lions (BCLions.com).

Taylor has quickly become one of the best at being in the right place at the right time with a great feel for the game and Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall’s system while TJ Lee already has 14 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery to his name by mid-July.

Safety – Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Montreal Alouettes

Defensive back, Marc-Antoine Dequoy has helped lead the Montreal defensive effort with two interceptions and a touchdown (The Canadian Press).

While I like BC’s Quincy Mauger and Hamilton’s Tunde Adeleke continuing to make plays, there is a feeling right from Week 1 in Calgary that nobody on that Alouettes defence is making more plays – and high degree of difficulty plays – than Marc-Antoine Dequoy. If the ball has been snapped he’s either near it, or will be very soon.

Kicker – Rene Parades, Calgary Stampeders

Rene Paredes has made 12 of his 13 field goal attempts, making kicks at a 92.3 per cent rate to start the year (Greg Fulmes/CFL.ca).

Let’s not complicate this. He’s helped comebacks, hit game winners and maintains an elite success rate. Rene is simply one of the best to ever do it.

Punter – Stefan Flintoft, BC Lions

Punter Stefan Flintoft is averaging 47.2 yards per punt to start the season (Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca).

Elks punter Matt Mengel has hit some absolute bombs with accuracy this year and Ottawa’s Richie Leone leads the CFL in punting average, but Flintoft’s average is less than a yard different and he has not scored a single so far this season. With some bigger kicks and continued accuracy he could lock up an All-Star spot in 2022, not that he appears to be punting nearly as much as others around the league.

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