The Friday Conversation: Which Draft Class is the Best of All Time?

Andy Fantuz, Weldon Brown, Chad KilgoreWith the 2015 CFL Draft right around the corner, I figured a great subject to open up what I hope to be a running feature here at 3DownNation, something I am calling “The Friday Conversation”, would be to answer which CFL draft class is the best of all time. This might not be the most controversial question to lead off with, but I am hoping it will lead to a stirring debate and some fun, and informative, back and forth amongst myself and the readers.

With that said, my answer is simple: 2006.

Andy Fantuz, Ricky Foley, Peter Dyakowski, Jon Cornish, Dominic Picard, Jason Pottinger, Dean Valli, Luca Congi, Jon Hameister-Ries, Jeff Perrett, Étienne Boulay, Éric Deslauriers.

Between those players, you have five Most Outstanding Canadian awards, one Most Outstanding Player award and one additional nomination, one nomination for Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, one Most Outstanding Rookie nomination, three Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian awards, four league all-star selections and eight division all-star selections. The players mentioned have hoisted the Grey Cup a combined 18 times and played in the championship game a whopping 30 times. That is as impressive a résumé for one draft class as there is, and you would be hard pressed to find another draft class that comes anywhere close to that level of individual and team success.

And nearly 10 years later, most of the players are still playing, with many of them still producing at a high level. If he keeps up his current pace, Cornish is a shoe-in for enshrinement into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (he might be already) and will enter the conversation for greatest Canadian player in CFL history. Fantuz could also possibly make it into the Hall of Fame, though his enshrinement might occur due to his stellar collegiate career at Western where he became, probably inarguably, the greatest receiver in CIS history. That is not to say Fantuz’s pro career has been a bust. Far from it. In 2010, for example, he became the first Canadian to lead the league in receiving yards since Dave Sapunjis did it in 1995. Picard is considered one of the best centres in the entire league, Foley can be a ferocious pass rusher (though seeing how he plays without a partner as skillful as someone like Brent Johnson or John Chick on the other side of him will really show how good he is), and Dyakowski is one of the league’s best interior linemen.

When you look at the draft class of 2006, it is loaded with award winners, Grey Cup champions and players who are consider at or near the top of the league at their respective positions. It is also the only draft class in over 40 years to be home to a CFL MOP, so the case is pretty clear: the 2006 draft class is the best of all time.

So, what do you think? Do you agree that the ’06 Draft class is the best ever? Have your say in the comment section. My hope is that these posts will generate lots of discussion (hence the name), so let’s have at it.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

3 Comments on The Friday Conversation: Which Draft Class is the Best of All Time?

  1. steve desio // May 8, 2015 at 11:06 am //

    I would say that looking back in a few years you would say that was the class the kicked off this new era of CFL and the reason why so many more top athletes are looking to Gridirion football. Aside from the several Superstar calibre Olineman. Fantuz has kicked off what is becoming a league full of top end National Receivers. Cornish has everyone now looking at National RBs and finding there are plenty who can play as a starter, Hybrid, Change up 2 back system, or a straight out servicible back up like Matt Walter who can step in and do more than just be a teams player. DE taking a bit longer but seeing that top end guys are going to the NFL and one just returned, Westermann, another developed in Cap with the chance in Ottawa. Three bonified National DE getting to the QB looks to be starting things off this year.

  2. Mark Fulton Mark Fulton // May 8, 2015 at 8:06 pm //

    Really hard to argue with 2006 as being the best draft class. I thought 1976 might pose legitimate discussion, yet 4 of the best from that year were territorial exemptions; Lumsden, Fryer Avery, Milian. Add Tim Berryman, Lui Passaglia, Bill Hatanaka, Chuck McMann from the actual draft and it’s pretty good.

    Again in 1978, the real gems were territorial exemptions with names like Gorrell, DiPietro, Ezerins, Poplawski.

    In fact, in most of the drafts prior to ’85 when the territorial exemption was eliminated, the real stars were protected. It kind of makes sense I guess. Those exemptions were really the first and second rounders!

    But I think you still nailed it right Josh … 2006 is the best.

  3. It’s strange, because this year COULD HAVE BEEN the best ever, but with the top 10 pics already trying out/drafted/signed in the NFL already, it’s become a fairly lean draft class already. It’s become a double-edged sword – our Canadian athletes (yes, even the CIS-trained ones at the so-called “skilled” positions) are getting legitimate looks by the NFL teams, but that is thinning out the rest of the herd for the CFL. Am I a bad person for thinking that “our guys” should play “our game” instead of making the big bucks down south? Or should I be congratulating them for following their dream and (hopefully) securing a nest-egg BEFORE they return to us; hopefully in one piece?

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