TORONTO — With the CFL’s All-Star fan vote now open, there are some difficult choices to be made.
In choosing a single player at 10 different spots on the field, you’re forced to choose who you think is the absolute best of the best from this year’s uber-talented roster of CFL players.
That’s where CFL.ca’s stable of writers can step in and offer some guidance. It may only help make decisions like Chad Kelly vs. Zach Collaros vs. Vernon Adams Jr. slightly easier, but what’s below may help inform your decision. Keep in mind that if you’re truly torn on who to pick, that you could vote a different way in each of the three times you cast your digital ballot. That helps spread the love around for your favourite players and it helps you maximize your chances of winning the $2,500 cash prize that will find one lucky fan.
Here’s how our writers are leaning on their picks at this point in the season.
You can only choose one. Who is your top pick, can’t-miss CFL All-Star this season?
Kristina Costabile: Adarius Pickett. Pickett has been excellent at the SAM linebacker position in his first season with the Argos. If you look around the football on a run, pass, or special teams play, you’re likely to see Pickett not far behind. He’s currently sitting in second in total defensive plays with 117 (one off the league leader). Plus, 49 tackles on defence to go along with five on special teams in his last five games? That screams All-Star to me.
Marshall Ferguson: Dalton Schoen. As everyone around the CFL continues to push receiving standards to new heights, Schoen is consistently at or near the top of most categories after a stunning rookie campaign.
Don Landry: Brady Oliveira. Not only is he the top back in the league this season, he might be the Bombers’ MOP.
Jim Morris: While Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira and Toronto’s Chad Kelly will get a lot of attention this year, and deservedly so, I’m staying close to home and sending some love to BC Lions kicker Sean Whyte. He leads the league with 41 field goals and has connected on 41 on 44 attempts for a 93.2 per cent average.
Jamie Nye: Brady Oliveira is a no doubter. Nobody has dominated the position like Oliveira. While the TDs aren’t there, Oliveria should be UNANIMOUS!
Chris O’Leary: No one has outright said Chad Kelly yet and I feel like I owe him the vote here because I might have questioned the Argos’ starting QB/QB depth every day of the off-season. My vote here can double as me eating my off-season words.
Who’s your pick for a first-time CFL All-Star?
Costabile: Who’s been a better first-year player than Austin Mack? Mack has been fantastic for the Alouettes this season, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark and has hauled in four touchdowns after becoming Cody Fajardo’s favourite target. He’s also tied with Dalton Schoen for the most 100-yard receiving games with five.
Ferguson: BC Lions DE Mathieu Betts. He started fast, and has barely slowed down.
Landry: Marc-Antoine Dequoy. This is not recency bias, merely based on his highlight-reel 109-yard pick six in Week 17. Dequoy has been fabulous for the Alouettes all season long.
Morris: I’m looking at BC Lions defensive end Mathieu Betts. The Montreal native leads the league with 15 sacks.
Nye: Keon Hatcher was overshadowed by his own teammate last season (Dominique Rhymes) but it’s a different year and Hatcher is dominating when he plays. Of course he missed some time and still is second in the league with a league high 91 yards/game. Incredible!
O’Leary: I’ve enjoyed watching MAD since the 2021 season. Seeing him make so many big plays this year has been a treat.
Who would you fight for to keep from being snubbed in the voting?
Costabile: It seems criminal that after the season he’s having, Vernon Adams Jr. may not be named to the All-Star team since there’s only room for one quarterback. While most chatter surrounding the best pivots this season has been about Zach Collaros and Chad Kelly (for good reason, I may add), VA is also having a sensational season. He leads the CFL in passing yards right now (4,005), has a 68.9 per cent completion rate, which is higher than both Collaros and Kelly, and leads the CFL in 300-plus yard games with nine.
Ferguson: Montreal safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, if anyone thinks about leaving him off their ballot they’re dead wrong.
Landry: Carthell Flowers-Lloyd. I repeat my desire for there to be an All-Star spot specifically for special teams blockers and cover guys.
Morris: Call me crazy but I would say Calgary receiver Reggie Begelton. Playing on a bad Stampeder team he still has over 1,000 yards and 82 catches.
Nye: Dejon Allen of the Toronto Argonauts . He doesn’t carry the same name recognition of other offensive lineman in the league but the Argos’ offensive line is in a category of its own, only allowing 12 sacks all season. Give the right tackle some love!
O’Leary: Whoever doesn’t get QB between Kelly, Adams and Collaros will feel like a snub. All three are deserving but like The Highlander movies taught us, there can be only one.
With only one selection at each spot, what’s the most difficult decision that fans will have to make when they vote?
Costabile: For me, it’s choosing a quarterback. Adams, Collaros and Kelly are all deserving of the vote but there can only be one.
Ferguson: Voting with the head and not the heart between Ouellette and Oliviera.
Landry: If fans are opting for a returner for their special teams selection, there are at least four or five worthy of consideration.
Morris: Fans have three legitimate choices for all-star quarterback in Collaros, Kelly and Adams.
Nye: Quarterback. Kelly, Collaros…I can’t even decide who deserves it. Adams can be in the conversation. You’re not wrong with any of them. That’s what makes it more difficult.
O’Leary: I feel for AJ Ouellette in the running back decision, because he’s such an integral part of the Argos’ offence and has really come into his own this year. Oliveira’s season has just been exceptional though.