The Canadian Football League kicks off its regular season Thursday (Saskatchewan at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS), and it’s our annual reminder that football in the United States is fast approaching.
We last checked in on Canada’s prospective NFL players in November. Three of them — receiver Derel Walker, tight end Antony Auclair and linebacker Deon Lacey — are now on NFL rosters. (Walker and Auclair are with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Lacey is with the Miami Dolphins.)
Let’s update the list with some new names, along with a few holdovers:
Bryan Burnham, WR, BC Lions
Some CFL observers were convinced Burnham, 27, would find an NFL job in 2017. He had at least one workout, with the Philadelphia Eagles, but ultimately returned to British Columbia. A nontraditional 6-foot-2 slot receiver, Burnham caught 79 passes for 1,392 yards in his breakout 2016 season.
DaVaris Daniels, WR, Calgary Stampeders
College: Notre Dame
Daniels had a high-profile career and departure from Notre Dame and was unable to stick with the Minnesota Vikings or New England Patriots, both of whom took offseason looks at the receiver in 2016. But he had a productive 2016 season with the Stampeders, catching 51 passes for 885 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games, and then caught another seven passes for a game-high 89 yards in the Grey Cup. He has returned to Calgary for 2017, but the NFL has not closed its book on him yet.
Chris Rainey, RB, BC Lions
Yes, Rainey turned 29 this spring — near ancient for running backs — and it has been four years since he last attracted significant NFL interest. But he had a nice season in 2016 for British Columbia, and he could be of use to an NFL team as a returner. He averaged 13.9 yards on 68 punt returns, including two he brought back for touchdowns, and 23.4 yards on 58 kickoff returns.
Emanuel Davis, CB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
College: East Carolina
Davis had five interceptions during each of the past two seasons; in 2016 he did it despite two broken fingers. He turns 28 in August, and at 5-foot-10 he doesn’t have the height NFL teams are looking for at cornerback these days. But his tenacity and playmaking skills have kept him on the NFL’s radar.
Duron Carter, WR, Saskatchewan Roughriders
College: Florida Atlantic
It’s true that Carter, the son of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, was unable to make the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 after an extended tryout on their practice squad and in training camp. Duron Carter also had a rough 2016 in Montreal off the field, shoving an opposing coach during one game and later getting into a heated altercation with quarterback Rakeem Cato. But he has always been highly productive, having caught 185 passes for 2,877 yards and 17 touchdowns in 40 CFL games. It’s not time to end Carter’s NFL story quite yet.
Kevin Fogg, DB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
After a strong season in 2016 as a tackler (79) and playmaker (four interceptions/14.2-yard average on punt returns), Fogg at least put himself back on the NFL radar as a special-teams player. He previously spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014.