April 19, 2024

CFL Draft Heist: Nye’s top steals since 2000

Arthur Ward/CFL.ca

Draft day is a day where general managers are full of hope.

They’re hopeful their first pick is a member of the organization for a long time. They’re hopeful that their second and third round picks come into camp and make the team. Then, from rounds four to the end, they’re hoping that all their scouting work comes through with a steal.

And looking back over the 2000s, there have been some incredible steals.

However, to achieve a status of describing a theft, I have a few rules. The player has to have impacted the team they were drafted by.

Chris Getzlaf may be the greatest whiff by general managers in league history, but the reason he’s not on my list of 10 is he was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Getzlaf played two games for the Tiger-Cats until he was traded from the Tabbies to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Getzlaf then popped off for over 6,000 career yards and is now an inductee into the Roughriders Plaza of Honour.

The player also needs to have been drafted in rounds four or later.

Now that we’ve set the rules. Here’s the list!

» MMQB: 4 takeaways from the CFL content shoot
» 5 things to know for 2024: Saskatchewan Roughriders
» Mock Draft: Who will be a steal in this year’s draft?
» Diversity is Strength: Catch up on videos, podcasts, and stories
» Subscribe to the CFL’s newsletter for exclusive offers and league updates

10. David Menard – BC Lions

The fourth round pick’s best year didn’t come as a BC Lion so he slides back on the list but in his second season, the National defensive end got six sacks and showed early that he was going to be a steal.

His entire career, except for one season, has been with the Lions. He was an East Division All-Star in 2021 when his eight sacks in Montreal was tops in the division. He then returned to BC to hit nine sacks in a full season in 2022 and this year will be tasked to have a bigger role in the absence of Mathieu Betts.

9. Stavros Katsantonis – Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Katsantonis finished the 2023 season tied for second in interceptions with five (Peter McCabe/CFL.ca)

The 2020 CFL Draft was also known as the ‘Covid Draft’ as the combine was skipped and teams weren’t able to do in person testing. It was set up to have a few potential steals because of it and our next two players are perfect examples.

Katsantonis has earned his spot as a starter on the Tiger-Cats defence after 54 tackles, five interceptions and two sacks in 2023 in his third season.

In 2022, Katsantonis hit 20 special teams tackles and the fourth round selection has been the most impactful player of the 2020 draft for the Tiger-Cats.

8. Kian Schaffer-Baker – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Another fourth round pick in 2020 has become a top National receiver in the CFL. He nearly hit the 1,000-yard mark in his second season but there is no doubt the fifth receiver taken in the 2020 draft is actually the best.

The big athletic target will be a big part to the Roughriders offence in 2024 and is exactly what you’d hope to have as a fourth round pick.

7. Derek Wiggan – Calgary Stampeders

Wiggan is one of the most underrated DL in the league according to Nye (The Canadian Press)

When your fourth round pick plays over 100 games in the CFL, it’s classified as a steal!!

Wiggan has been a mainstay along the Stampeders defensive line as a rotational player but has been a consistent contributor as a defensive tackle. Yes, he’s now moving on to the Alouettes but Wiggan became one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the league.

6. Kelly Bates – BC Lions

The BC Lions have had some great luck with the 32nd overall pick. Menard was also 32nd overall. But in the 2001 CFL Draft they picked up an offensive lineman out of the University of Saskatchewan.

Not only did they pick a future CFL All-Star, they drafted someone who would become a Lion for life. Bates is still in the organization as the offensive line coach. He was the eighth offensive linemen taken in the draft in 2001 and if you’re re-drafting today, he would be the second one off the board. The first being his former teammate Angus Reid who was picked fourth overall.

5. Shane Bergman – Calgary Stampeders

Shane Bergman has a similar resume of Bates, though he played his entire 100 starts with the Stampeders and was taken in the sixth round of the CFL Draft in 2013.

He helped the team win Grey Cups in 2014 and 2018 and earned a CFL All-Star nod in his final year in 2019.

When you’re into the sixth round, no general manager is expecting to pick someone who would become a vital part of your team. That’s the dream but extremely rare to be a reality. It’s why Bergman is a top five steal since 2000.

4. Jake Thomas – Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Thomas’ presence on the defensive line has helped the Blue Bombers win two Grey Cups (Thomas Skrlj/CFL.ca)

Jake Thomas is similar to the previously mentioned Derek Wiggan; underrated.

He’s now played 187 CFL games and has two Grey Cup championships and in the five seasons has become a top CFL defensive tackle. I think he’s been robbed of All-Star nods because he’s overshadowed by Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat in Winnipeg. But if it weren’t for the play of Thomas in the middle, the Bombers are not as dominant up front!

He’s likely to hit 200 games played and all with the team that drafted him in the fourth round.

3. Dave Stala – Montreal Alouettes

Dave Stala has the potential of being the biggest steal ever in the CFL Draft but I’m bending my ‘impact on the team that drafted him’ rule. Stala’s best part of his career was with the Tiger-Cats and not the Alouettes, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2003.

But Stala did hit his first of two 1,000-yard seasons in his third season in Montreal. The 50th overall selection got the attention of the league. His 30-yard touchdown in Grey Cup gave the Alouettes the lead in overtime until Ricky Ray and Edmonton tied it again and eventually won it all 38-35 in one of the best Grey Cups ever.

Stala would later leave and be a mainstay in Hamilton but his impact in Montreal in the first six seasons of his career land him in the top three.

2. Luc Brodeur-Jourdain – Montreal Alouettes

Brodeur-Jourdain played his entire career with the Alouettes (Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca)

The Alouettes picked LBJ in the sixth round (48th overall). What they picked was a two time East Division All-Star who would play nearly 170 games for the Alouettes. He was named a CFL All-Star in 2012.

The three time Grey Cup champion, two as a player, one as a coach, has to be considered one of the biggest steals of the last 24 seasons with his entire career being in Montreal and the amount of hardware and honours he’s received as a sixth round pick.

1. Kevin Eiben – Toronto Argonauts

But no player has had as impressive of a career as Kevin Eiben for those taken beyond round three.

In 2001, the Argonauts made their second selection in the fourth round.

With the 26th selection, they selected a player who is now second all-time in tackles by a National, trailing Mike O’Shea. They selected a five time East Division All-Star and three time CFL All-Star.

He came on slowly. He didn’t play much in 2001. Eiben led the team in special teams tackles in 2002. He then led the league with 33 special teams tackles in 2003.

Then in 2004, he took off for 110 tackles, a CFL All-Star nod and helped the Argonauts win the Grey Cup.

The rest they say is history, except I’m still waiting for Eiben to inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, where he belongs!

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!