The CFL has some prospects the Cleveland Browns should consider when that league wraps after the playoffs
The Canadian Football League is winding down and the CFL Semifinals will occur this weekend. NFL talent can be found anywhere and the CFL is often times a great place for unpolished talent to get ready for the big league and a perfect example is Oakland Raiders safety, Erik Harris, who snagged two interceptions last Thursday.
Harris was a raw defensive tweener prospect out of division two, California (PA), but had a ton of success refining his game with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2013-2015. One of Harris’ former Hamilton teammates is another recognizable name in Delvin Breux, who started for the New Orleans Saints from 2015-2017.
The list of successful NFL players spending time in the CFL is longer than most realize and it includes former Browns, Andrew Hawkins and Jeff Garcia. Scouring CFL rosters is something every NFL team does every season in hopes of finding players ranging from quarterbacks like Doug Flutie, Warren Moon and Joe Theismann to defensive studs like Cameron Wake and Brandon Browner. Below are the top five guys the Cleveland Browns should have on their radar this season.
Tunde Adeleke, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, DB, 5-10, 208 pounds
A true Canadian, growing up in Ottawa, Adeleke was selected in the third round of the CFL Draft in 2017 by the Calgary Stampeders, but has really played at an elite All-CFL level for Hamilton. Adeleke has tallied career highs with 57 tackles and two interceptions this season and offenses were doing their best to avoid him. He also plays special teams both as a defender and as a returner. Still only 25 years old, Adeleke is CFL fast running a 4.58 40-yard dash, but that is a limitation in the NFL.
Adeleke did crank out 16 reps of 225 pounds at the CFL combine and that would have been an impressive number for defensive backs in the NFL combine. He plays faster than he times and has decent size, it is a reasonable expectation for Adeleke to provide depth in the defensive backfield and play a role on special teams.
Dashaun Amos, Calgary Stampeders, CB, 6-0, 193 pounds
Amos briefly got a shot with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina in 2017, but was released after playing in all four preseason games. After his first NFL stint, Amos signed with Calgary halfway through the next season and spent most of his 2018 on the practice squad. This season was a breakthrough for Amos as his first full CFL season translated to him being named a CFL All-Star after recording 42 tackles and five interceptions.
Amos would have likely been up for the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Award if not for playing two games during his shortened 2018. Amos is only 25 and plays the defensive halfback position in the CFL, which is responsible for covering the slotback. This is a tough job as the slotback typically moves with a forward motion before the snap, which should make him prepared for nickel or slot corner duties in the NFL.
Patrick Levels, Montreal Alouettes, DB, 5-11, 187 pounds
The former Baylor defender was never given an opportunity in the NFL, because he is the definition of a tweener as Baylor utilized Levels at their “Bear” position, which is a linebacker/safety hybrid. Levels lacks the size to play linebacker, but also lacks the athleticism to play defensive back. Levels started his CFL career in 2017 with the Calgary Stampeders but didn’t shine until this season, which was his first in Montreal where he was all over the field with 86 tackles and five sacks. He has clearly gotten better and despite his limitations, he flows to the ball effectively. At the very worst, you have a semi-versatile grinder who can contribute on special teams.
Winston Rose, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, DB, 6-0, 171 pounds
Another defensive backfield on this list, Rose is only in his third full CFL season and Winnipeg is already his fourth CFL team after playing briefly in Ottawa in 2017 and British Columbia in 2018. He played at a high level in college for New Mexico State after arriving via junior college and was able to have cups of coffee for the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Rose was signed as a late-season addition for the Toronto Argonauts and became a full-time CFL starter last season for B.C. This season Rose has elevated his game to earn All-CFL honors with 58 tackles and 9 interceptions.
Rose has always had supreme athleticism as evidenced by his 4.38 forty yard dash time at his pro day and many thought he would have been a late draft pick, but he was too raw to maintain a roster spot in 2016. Rose looks like he has grown a ton and should at the very least provide a spark on special teams and has enough skills to potentially grow into a contributing cornerback with ideal athleticism and ball skills.
Marcus Sayles, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, CB, 5-10, 180 pounds
There are more than a few young defensive backs in the CFL that had essentially zero technical skills coming out of college, but after a few years have developed some impressive tools and Sayles fits that description.
After going undrafted in 2017, Sayles spent some time with the Buffalo Bills and ended the season with the Los Angeles Rams. He was released prior to the start of the 2018 season and that is when Winnipeg snatched him up. Like Rose, Sayles has earned All-CFL honors and has a ton of physical tools to at the very least contribute on special teams. Coming out of West Georgia, Sayles ran a 4.42 at his pro day.
William Stanback, Montreal Alouettes, RB, 6-0, 233 pounds
Last but not least. Stanback was the former lead back for UCF in college and spent a short time with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Stanback has had a weird career as he was All-AAC as a freshman in 2013 and was seen as a legit NFL caliber talent, but sputtered and disappointed the following two seasons and was dismissed before his final year and forced to transfer to Virginia Union.
Montreal snagged Stanback in 2018 to relieve CFL legend Tyrell Sutton, but Stanback was so dominating that the Alouettes elected to trade Sutton and Stanback finished the season as the starter. This season Stanback really displayed elite ability as he rushed for 1,048 yards and also snagged 33 receptions out of the backfield.
Stanback has always had NFL talent at over 230 pounds and running a 4.48, but he has failed multiple drug tests and needed to prove he has matured and is reliable. Since going up North, Stanback has been a perfect citizen and has earned another NFL shot.