With the new CFL season getting ever closer I will be taking a look at each position from Kicker to Quarterback going into 2016 and ranking who I see as the best. This will be a list made up of last years players as I have little info on new International players and the draft rarely yields elite level talent (at least in the players rookie year). Please feel free to leave a comment if you have other thoughts and check out my CFL thread on disqus.com (https://disqus.com/home/channel/cflcanadianfootballleague/)
Here we go…
- Justin Medlock-Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2015 Stats: 42 of 47 – 89.3%)
The top kicker in the CFL holds court going into the 2016 season. Medlock has been consistently putting up field goals at one of the hardest stadiums to kick in and still was among the top three in overall accuracy. Medlock boasts range (Career Long 67Y), consistency (Career Average 84.6%) and versatility as a punter (Career Average of 41.3Y). Medlock’s only true draw back comes from his American passport and higher than normal price tag for his position. Moving to Winnipeg and continuing his streak of excellence will give Medlock all the more opportunity to be the consensus top kicker for years to come.
2. Rene Paredes-Calgary Stampeders (“15 Stats: 41 of 47 – 87.2%)
I still remember when Parades replaced an injured/struggling Rob Maver back in 2011 and gave the Stamps an absolute embarrassment of riches at the kicker position. Maver changed his focus to a punter (and became a highly proficient one) and Paredes went on to become an elite CFL kicker. You can make a case that Paredes could be the top kicker in the CFL after his record setting 2013 campaign (94.7%) but he falls to No. 2 on my list after a down year in 2014 (73.3%). Despite this no one stands a better chance of dethroning Medlock in 2016 than Paredes.
3. Sean Whyte-Edmonton Eskimos (“15 Stats: 24 of 26 – 92.3%)
As I have admitted in the past I don’t follow the Montreal Alouettes news cycle as much as I would like, so I was very surprised when Whyte was allowed to leave the team in favour of Boris Bede. Whyte has a solid track record of success throughout his career from the Lions to the Als and didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Whatever the reason Whyte went on to log one of his best seasons with the Eskimos and snagged a Grey Cup in the process. Going into 2016 Whyte should still be motivated to prove the Als made a big mistake in letting him walk.
4. Chris Milo-Ottawa REDBLACKS (“15 Stats: 32 of 36 – 88.8%) *Combined SSK and RB*
I will always think of Milo as one of the leagues best punters from his time in Saskatchewan, but his kicking career has not been so flowery. Milo emerged on the scene as a promising young kicker but struggled mightily with inconsistency. Last year the Riders tired of Good Milo/Bad Milo and cast him away for kicking legend Paul McCallum. Milo looked like he was on the outs until the REDBLACKS took a flier on the fledgling kicker and were well rewarded for their faith with a full year of Good Milo. Time will tell if Milo has developed into a consistent kicker or if Bad Milo will crop up again.
5. Boris Bede-Montreal Alouettes (“15 Stats: 36 of 40 – 90.0%)
As mentioned before I had no idea what the Als were thinking when they jettisoned Whyte for a relative unknown in Bede, but despite Whyte’s success in Edmonton I cant say the Als truly made a mistake. Bede had in impressive rookie year and didn’t seem to be overly phased by pressure kicks or big time games. Bede also showed an knack for punting and could be a significant advantage for the Als if he continues to develop in both forms. I must advise caution with Bede though, as my getting burned by Lirim Hajrullahu last year has made me wary of rookie wonders. Speaking of Hajrullahu…
Honorable Mention: Lirim Hajrullahu-Toronto Argonauts (“15 Stats: 22 of 32 – 68.7%)
I honestly thought LH would be the next Paul McCallum after watching his very impressive rookie year. I drafted him highly in Fantasy, placed him in my top kickers list, and expected him to do big things for the downtrodden Bombers. I was sorely disappointed. LH regressed and regressed badly in 2015, at one point being benched and relegated to punting for the rest of the year. Yet despite this, I cannot give up on LH as he moves to the Argos and has a real shot at redemption. With youth and a fresh start on his side maybe LH will end up making me look smart by 2017 (hey, all things are possible)
Stay tuned next week for the Top Pass Rushers of 2016.