These 6 CFL standouts share a drive to compete in the NFL

The road to the NFL isn’t easy for any football player, regardless of where he comes from. For most, the route is a standout college career followed by handpicked entry into the NFL via draft selection or undrafted free-agent signing.

Others take a more circuitous path, as is the case with CFL stars attempting to make the leap to the NFL. The transition has been successful for many over the decades. NFL all-time greats like Warren Moon, Joe Thiemann, and Doug Flutie started their careers in the CFL. Flutie, of course, was one of the best ever to play in the league.

The quest for the NFL lives on in 2019. These current CFL players have the best chance of springboarding to the US pros and driving a team to the top of NFL news and outcomes.

Lewis Ward – Kicker – Ottawa Redblacks

Once a security guard at TD Place Stadium, Ward was able to trade in his security vest for an Ottawa Redblacks jersey in 2018. From 2013 to 2017, Ward was a field goal kicker at the University of Ottawa, successfully kicking 89 consecutive field goals during his college career.

Despite his success, Ward wasn’t picked up in the 2017 CFL Draft. He returned to school for a fifth year instead. The Redblacks finally gave notice and signed him at the end of the season.

Converting 48 out of 49 field goals within 16 games of the 2018 season, Ward looks set to be a worthy candidate for the NFL.

Taylor Loffler – Safety – Montreal Alouettes

Ranked as the eleventh best player of the 2016 CFL Draft, it wasn’t until the third round when the three-time all-star national defensive back was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 2016, he was the nominee for the Most Outstanding Rookie. Loffler enjoyed 50 career-games with Winnipeg before signing with the Montreal Alouettes in February this year.

Loffler proves to be a well-rounded player who excels in both the pass and run defenses, making him a strong contender for the NFL.

Micah Awe – Linebacker – Toronto Argonauts

Nigerian born Awe began his 2017 rookie campaign as a BC Lion Linebacker. He spent two seasons with the team before signing with the Toronto Argonauts in February of this year.

Known as the CFL’s hardest hitter, Awe also played in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016 and with the New York Jets in 2018.

Awe is known as a top run defender with sound instincts. He may need to hone his special teams focus to gain attention from NFL teams.

Sean McEwen – Center – Toronto Argonauts

Picked up by the Argonauts in the first round of the 2015 CFL Draft, McEwen was nominated for Most Outstanding Rookie in 2016. McEwen is currently under contract with the Argonauts through 2019.

He may have stateside aspirations just around the corner.

Due to his amazing speed, McEwen is an excellent run and pass blocker. He is reported to rank high on the football IQ scale and has incredible awareness on the field.

Nick Marshall – Cornerback – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Following the 2015 NFL Draft, an un-selected Marshall played with the Jacksonville Jaguars until September 2016. After an unsuccessful season with the New York Jets, Marshall joined the Arizona Rattlers before signing with the CFL prior to the start of the 2018 season.

With his dynamic ability to play offense, defense, and special teams, Marshall is one to watch.

CFL Photo by Joey Coleman

Jalen Saunders – Wide Receiver – Free Agent

Saunders was given shots at the NFL in 2014 and 2015 when he appeared as practice squad member with no less than five different teams. Picked out of Oklahoma by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft, Saunders appeared in three games with the Jets as a punt returner.

The Tiger-Cats called in 2017, finally giving Saunders a home and place to excel as a wide receiver for the next two seasons. He blossomed into a dynamic playmaker with the Tiger-Cats despite a torn ACL in week 12 of 2018.

Currently a free-agent, Saunders is a longshot to get back in the NFL, but he has the experience and pedigree should a team come knocking.


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