In this year’s CFL Draft there is plenty of Canadian talent. There are several talented football players from both the NCAA and U-Sports looking to make an impact at the professional stage in the CFL but one thing that sticks out a lot in this year’s CFL Draft is the number of athletes from Ontario. Among the 37 players that participated in the 2021 CFL National Combine for the CFL Draft 10 were from the province of Ontario, really demonstrating the growth of talent that we see in the province.
Over the recent years we have seen that exact growth south of the border with players going to the NFL. We have seen Ontarians Nathan Shepherd, Eli Ankou, Brent Urban, Neville Gallimore, Tevaughn Campbell, Michael Hoecht, and Dakota Shepley make their ways to the NFL and joining them this year will be both Windsor, Ontario native Alaric Jackson and Brampton’s very own Joshua Palmer. Unfortunately the two players who are alongside Benjamin St Juste, Chuba Hubbard, Amen Ogbongbemiga, and Jevon Holland as Canadians in the NFL Draft class are stealing all of the CFL Draft attention from the players that will be playing in the CFL in 2021 when a season is played. The CFL Draft spotlight should be on players like Nelson Lokombo of Saskatchewan, brother of CFL linebacker Bo Lokombo, Terrell Jana from the University of Virginia, UBC’s linebackers Nick Cross and Ben Hladik, Cincinnati Tight End Bruno Labelle, Grant McDonald of Calgary, Shae Weekes of Bemidji State and both Ottawa natives Alain Cimankinda and Dylan St. Pierre.
Both Cimankinda and St Pierre are among the Ontarians in this year’s CFL Draft and as the results come out for the CFL National Combine they are two of the best Ontarians available in the Draft, both coming from the nation’s capital, they actually train together with Titan Performance’s Joey Kwasniewski in the off-season.
Cimankinda, a 6-foot-1, 235 pound defensive end/edge rusher was just two sacks shy of the all-time U-Sports sack record and if there had been a 2020 U-Sports season he would have broke it. Having played at many different levels of football, starting with Ottawa’s NCAFA and Ontario’s OVFL, Quebec’s CEGEP division one football, New Mexico Military Institute, a JUCO in the NJCAA and then Guelph at the U-Sports collegiate level here in Canada Alain Cimankinda has been an explosive defensive end and linebacker. He, alongside Daniel Joseph of N.C State and Carleton’s Shaiheem Charles-Brown is one of the best defensive linemen available in this year’s CFL Draft and might just be the best available defensive player considering his versatility. Having the ability to play all over the defensive line and even the defensive backfield as a linebacker in coverage is extremely rare in a player of his caliber, and his versatility is exactly what puts him on top in this year’s draft. Cimankinda as a 2021 CFL National Combine invitee ran a 4.93 40 yard dash, 4.43 shuttle, 7.36 3-cone drill and benched 23 reps of 225 pounds, making him one of the top performers in this year’s CFL Draft.
Another combine performance that is getting looked at quite well is University of Ottawa receiver and fellow 613 native Dylan St. Pierre. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds Dylan St Pierre ran a 4.86 40 yard dash which as a receiver may not be the flashiest but his route running and change of direction makes up for his 40 time like a lot of receivers. He ran a 4.20 shuttle as well as a 7.23 3-cone drill, really showcasing his change of direction that you see in his route running and with 20 bench press reps of 225 pounds he demonstrates strength which is something that a lot of teams at the next level look for at the receiver position. Dylan St. Pierre had a great career at the University of Ottawa with over 400 yards and 5 touchdowns in his 21 games demonstrated in his Draft highlight tape and just recently played in Orlando, Florida’s Tropical Bowl senior showcase game. He said in an interview, “A couple guys I played with or against are at the professional level now. Guys like Neville Gallimore, Jackson Bennett, and a bunch of other guys and I want to join them at the professional level so the opportunity to go to Florida to play in this game is going to hopefully help with that.”
With the CFL Draft in just over two weeks, come Tuesday May 4th, 2021 both Alain Cimankinda and Dylan St. Pierre have been and will continue to talk to CFL coaches and front office personnel leading up to Draft Day. The two Ottawa natives will be among a number of 613-raised players in the CFL and if somehow one of them earns an opportunity south of the border in the NFL they would join both Neville Gallimore and Eli Ankou state side.
In link with the 2021 CFL Draft, CFL Draft prospect Alain Cimankinda has teamed up with JZ Media, Skyline Sports Global and Vado Visuals to produce a documentary series leading up to the CFL Draft, telling his untold story. The documentary is aimed to inspire the younger generation of athletes as his mentor Jean Guillaume said, “Alain has the perfect Ottawa story.”