Evan Daum, Canada West Communications
- Manitoba offensive lineman Geoff Gray is the top-ranked Canada West player heading into Sunday's CFL Draft, according to the conference's head coaches
- The CW CFL Prospect Rankings provide insight into how CW coaches view the rest of the conference's draft-eligible players
- The 2017 CFL Draft is scheduled for Sunday, May 7 (5 p.m. MT), as the latest crop of CW prospects look to start their pro football journeys
EDMONTON – With the Canadian Football League Draft just a few days away, Canada West released its annual prospect rankings Thursday, with Manitoba Bisons offensive lineman Geoff Gray topping the list.
Voted on by coaches from the conference's six football programs, the CW CFL Prospect Rankings provide a glimpse into how conference coaches view the top draft-eligible players ahead of the CFL Draft, which is slated for Sunday, May 7 (5 p.m. MT).
All six conference head coaches submitted a list of their potential draft picks, and then ranked the rest of the conference's CFL hopefuls. A total of 25 players were submitted as prospects this season, with a first-place vote worth 25 points, a second-place vote worth 24 points and so on.
For the second consecutive season a Manitoba Bison topped the list, as Gray followed in the footsteps of David Onyemata, who came in No. 1 last season before being drafted in the fourth round of both the NFL (New Orleans Saints) and CFL Drafts (Saskatchewan Roughriders).
Gray received four of a possible five first-place votes (coaches didn't vote for their own players), finishing with 121 points to edge out Calgary Dinos defensive lineman Connor McGough for top spot.
Both Gray and McGough were also ranked by the CFL Scouting Bureau in their final prospect rankings released last month. Gray, who recently inked a deal with the NFL's Green Bay Packers, was the highest ranked U SPORTS player on the 20-player list, coming in at No. 3. McGough, meanwhile, used a strong performance at the CFL Combine to jump into the rankings for the first time, slotting in at No. 20.
Along with Gray and McGough, five other players cracked the 100-point mark in the CW rankings, as Dinos Braden Schram (OL – No. 3 – 110 pts.) and Robert Woodson (DB – No. 4 – 107 pts.) were joined by UBC's Alex Morrison (REC – No. 5 – 102 pts.), Regina's Jeremy Zver (OL – No. 6 – 101 pts.), and Manitoba's Evan Foster (DL – No. 7 – 110 pts.).
All five players are coming off terrific seasons, with both Woodson and Schram being named to the CFL Scouting Bureau's final rankings, coming in at No. 14 and No. 16 respectively back in April.
While the Calgary Dinos dominated the rankings with five players inside the conference's top 15, every CW team had at least one player crack the rankings.
Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan landed three players on the list, while a pair of Regina Rams earned the nod from the conference's coaches.
Coming in with a single prospect were both the UBC Thunderbirds (Morrison) and Alberta Golden Bears, who saw receiver Tylor Henry land at No. 14.
FOLLOWING IN PRO FOOTSTEPS
Last year a total of 14 players from Canada West schools were drafted by CFL clubs, becoming the latest crop of conference players to begin their pro football dreams.
Over the last four years 52 CW players have been drafted into the CFL, including former Thunderbird Taylor Loffler, who was selected 19th overall in last year's CFL Draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and went on to be a CFL West Division All-Star at defensive back in 2016.
WATCH THE CFL STARS OF THE FUTURE THIS FALL
The 2017 CW football season opens Friday, September 1 when the conference regular season kicks off with a trio of games.
Fans can watch all 24 CW regular season games along with the three Hardy Cup Playoff games – including the 81st Hardy Cup on Saturday, November 11 – by purchasing a Canada West TV pass.
A full list of Canada West TV packages available for the 2017-18 season will be announced in August.
Complete CW CFL Prospect Rankings
Rank (Points) – Name / Position / School / Hometown
1. (121) – Geoff Gray / OL / University of Manitoba / Winnipeg, Man.
2. (118) – Connor McGough / DL / University of Calgary / Medicine Hat, Alta.
3. (110) – Braden Schram / OL / University of Calgary / Manning, Alta.
4. (107) – Robert Woodson / DB / University of Calgary / Calgary, Alta.
5. (102) – Alex Morrison / REC / University of British Columbia / Sault St. Marie, Ont.
6. (101) – Jeremy Zver / OL / University of Regina / Regina, Sask.
7. (100) – Evan Foster / DL / University of Manitoba / Chilliwack, B.C.
8. (99) – Mitchell Picton / SB / University of Regina / Regina, Sask.
9. (98) – Evan Johnson / OL / University of Saskatchewan / Regina, Sask.
10. (82) – Mitch Hillis / REC / University of Saskatchewan / Saskatoon, Sask.
11. (79) – Adam Laurenesse / DB / University of Calgary / Sherwood Park, Alta.
12. (78*) – Jordan Filippelli / OL / University of Calgary / Sherwood Park, Alta.
13. (78) – Julan Lynch / REC / University of Saskatchewan / Regina, Sask.
14. (75) – Tylor Henry / REC / University of Alberta / Camrose, Alta.
15. (65) – Tom Clarkson / OL / University of Manitoba / Mission, B.C.
*Greater number of higher-placed votes