When people think of the young Canadian quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League, their minds will instantly snap to both Nathan Rourke and Michael O’Connor, both of whom are signed with the BC Lions for the 2022 season. It makes sense that both of those players are front of mind considering they are already known names in the CFL, but there is someone else looming around the corner that has the makings of a good professional quarterback when he gets the chance. That man is University of Waterloo Warriors quarterback, Tre Ford.
There hasn’t been the same hype surrounding him as there was for Rourke, but the Canadian Football League Scouting Bureau seems to be very high on the young man, ranking him the sixth-best prospect in the upcoming CFL Draft. He comes in behind names like Jesse Luketa who will likely have NFL interest, Jalen Philpot, and Tyson Philipot, and Ford is the only quarterback to be ranked inside the top 20 prospects.
Playing in U Sports, Ford has proven to be an incredibly athletic quarterback that can make would-be tacklers miss in the open field, but he has also proven to be an accurate passer that can find the open receiver down the field. He deferred his CFL Draft year by one year and returned to Waterloo for the 2021 season where, in seven games, he completed 139 of his 219 passes for 1,770 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions. On the ground, Ford rushed for an additional 667 yards on 66 rushes, scoring three touchdowns.
Ford may still be raw, but he’s not entirely dissimilar to Rourke. He is an athletic quarterback who can escape the pocket when needed, but perhaps underrated is his arm. He can make the throws he is asked to, and while he may need some time to sit behind a veteran quarterback before he is ready to take over the CFL, few players come in ready.
The language is coded, but virtually every Black quarterback hears the questions from coaches, recruiters, and scouts: Can he read defences? Can he make all the throws, or will he just rely on his feet? Can he command leadership in the huddle? The historical reality is that these answers are already predetermined before a snap is ever taken – a pair of 2017 studies from the University of Colorado concluded that racial stereotyping in quarterbacks is as pervasive as ever. “A lot of times,” said coach Darrell Adams, Waterloo’s defensive and recruiting coordinator, “Black quarterbacks aren’t given the chance to play the position at all.”From Adam McGuire – In appreciation of Tre Ford: MVP, quarterback, and trailblazer
“I would say my mobility definitely stands out,” said Ford. “The ability to extend plays for five, six, seven seconds takes my game to a different level and is a huge asset in modern offences. I’d also say my arm strength and accuracy put me in the conversation of being a top prospect. Those are fundamental skills of playing the quarterback position, and yet they vary from player to player.”
“I would have to compare myself to Kyler Murray,” he continued. “Murray is an exceptionally mobile quarterback that never fails to make plays in key situations, even if he’s considered to be undersized. He couples his quick feet with great throwing abilities which is something I emulate.”
Finding a place where those skills and abilities can be used to their fullest potential is the number one thing when considering what CFL franchise would make the perfect home for Ford in his first handful of seasons as a professional. The good news for him is that his talents could be useful for any team in the league, but there are some that stick out as being potentially better than some others. Those who don’t seem to fit the bill quite so nicely are both the Calgary Stampeders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. With both teams having two quarterbacks who are capable of winning games and all four of those players employing a completely different style compared to Ford, it’s not hard to imagine that there are other teams better suited to bid for his services.
Most of the other teams (if not all of them) in the league are either a good scheme fit for Ford or are in the search of a backup quarterback, even if he might not develop into that for some years. The absolute top of the list would certainly be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the same reason it is for every quarterback around the league, their offensive line is among the best in the CFL, meaning that in the event he was forced into action early, he would stand a chance to survive. There is another reason why Ford would be hoping to head to Winnipeg, and that is a chance to get some playing time early in his career. Despite the Bombers signing Dakota Prukop in recent days, he’s not a player that anyone around the league would consider a lock for a roster spot on any team, and Ford could steal his spot with an outstanding training camp.
Fellow prairies rivals, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are another team that would be an interesting fit. Cody Fajardo is of course the clear-cut starting quarterback, however, behind him there is inexperience. Currently, Mason Fine and Jake Domagala are the only other quarterback on the roster, and with only one season worth of experience and nine attempted passes to Fine’s name, the Riders would be risking a lot if they don’t bring in another quarterback to battle him for the backup position in training camp. The Roughriders do offer an ideal fit for Ford and his style as well, especially considering Fajardo plays with a similar run-when-needed-to vibe.
Both Winnipeg and Saskatchewan would be the safe option for Ford, but there are some others that would be interesting. The aforementioned Lions would be fun just for the sake of having three Canadian quarterbacks on the roster, however, with Isaac Harker on the roster as well, there would be little to no chance for Ford to make an impact. Attention could turn to Chris Jones and the Edmonton Elks who are clearly unsatisfied with their current quarterback situation, and knowing what Jones has gotten up to in the past, what kind of shenanigans could he get up to with Ford? The Montreal Alouettes are another team that could potentially be the perfect schematical fit, but would he be able to compete with the likes of Trevor Harris and Dominique Davis for any kind of significant reps in either the preseason or in practice? It doesn’t seem entirely likely.
“I’m a young athletic quarterback with an extremely determined mindset that wakes up every day ready to compete, succeed, and win.”Tre Ford
When you think of the punchy and bold moves, Jones is always brought up as the possible culprit, but the Toronto Argonauts also tend to stick their nose into the interesting storylines, and this could be a case where that might pay off for them. Yes, McLeod Bethel-Thompson does play a much different style and they did just sign Chad Kelly who hopes to be the next Doug Flutie, but Ford could be the perfect local product that Pinball Clemons looks to bring in. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Ford is another example of a Toronto-area native that the Argos could use to promote their team, particularly to the locals. It just seems like a really good fit for the team both on and off the field.
When it really comes down to it, all nine teams could be the right fit for Ford if they give him the time and attention he needs to develop. Some spots make more sense than others, but there is every chance that Ford could find himself becoming the next Canadian player to be a starting quarterback in the CFL. For all nine teams, the key is going to be patience. This isn’t the NFL where a player should be expected to come right into the league and be a superstar, and even the quick emergence that Rourke has seen shouldn’t be expected.
If you’re thinking about ideal fits, both the Blue Bombers and Roughriders are exactly that. The Tiger-Cats and Stampeders would be two interesting, but perhaps less than ideal. Everyone else in between would offer a decent enough place to go, although it would be missing one of the immediate chances to play or a stylistically different playbook compared to Ford’s biggest strengths.
We won’t know where Ford will call home until May 4th, 2022 when the CFL Draft is scheduled to take place. We will have the chance to see him participate in the national combine at the University of Toronto from March 25th to March 27th, 2022 where he will be tested on a variety of different things, including the 40-yard dash and his bench press.
As it stands right now, the current order for the first round of the CFL Draft is as follows:
- Edmonton Elks
- Ottawa REDBLACKS
- BC Lions
- Montreal Alouettes
- Calgary Stampeders
- Toronto Argonauts
- Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers
For the full draft order, click here.
|BC Lions||Free Agency 2022|
|Calgary Stampeders||Free Agency 2022|
|Edmonton Elks||Free Agency 2022|
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats||Free Agency 2022|
|Montreal Alouettes||Free Agency 2022|
|Ottawa Redblacks||Free Agency 2022|
|Saskatchewan Roughriders||Free Agency 2022|
|Toronto Argonauts||Free Agency 2022|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||Free Agency 2022|