The 2020 Canadian Football League Draft was held virtually on Thursday night, and both eligible Mid-American Conference prospects found themselves going early in the proceedings.
Former Buffalo OL Tomas Jack-Kurdyla (fourth overall) and former Ohio QB Nathan Rourke (15th overall, second round) heard their names called by the TSN crew (as the commissioner was unavailable to make picks.)
Jack-Kurdyla was selected by the Edmonton Eskimos with the second overall pick, and is expected to be a starter from Day 1 of the upcoming season. A four-year starter at Buffalo, the six-foot-four, 300 lb. Jack-Kurdyla made 40 starts in his career, mostly at the guard position. Buffalo experienced some of its best offensive football with him on the line, as the 2019 squad set program records for least sacks allowed and most rushing yards in a season, breaking the marks set by the 2018 MAC runner-up team. A native of Montreal, Quebec, Jack-Kurdyla played his high school ball at Vanier College.
Former Ohio QB Nathan Rourke, a six-foot-one, 210 lb. dual-threat, was selected by the BC (British Columbia) Lions with the 15th overall pick, and will likely fight for a spot as a starter with seven-year vet Travis Lulay in his rookie season. Rourke tied Jesse Palmer’s mark (2001) for highest quarterback ever taken in the draft, and will be coming in with a lot of expectations.
Rourke left Athens one of the most-decorated quarterbacks in MAC history, with three consecutive bowl appearances and program records in total touchdowns (111), rushing touchdowns (49), and total yards (10,901,) while also landing on the all-MAC team in all three of his seasons (second-team in 2017-18, first-team in 2019) and winning both editions of the John Cornish trophy for best Canadian football player in college football.
Rourke, an Oakville, Ontario native who played his senior year of high school ball in Alabama, was the true wild-card of the CFL Draft, with CFL’s final mock draft slating Rourke to be taken by Calgary in the third round. Instead, BC pulled off a draft-day trade with Calgary to acquire picks #1 and #15, taking the concensus best player in East Carolina LB Jordan Williams and their QB of the future with pick #15.
The CFL season is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it is not yet known when the season will start. Last week, the Canadian Football League’s Players Association proposed opt-outs of their CFL contracts should the 2020 season be cancelled. Financial difficulties have clouded the league’s future in recent weeks as well, with a multitude of options on the table.
Theorhetically, should the season be cancelled, Rourke and Jack-Kurdyla could seek other professional opportunities, but with NFL teams largely having already filled out their rosters and the CFL having unique rules regarding acquisitions, it could prove difficult to move.