In case you haven’t caught it Pro Stats Canada has been doing an amazing deep dive into the most efficient playmakers in the 2021 season, but they have included both NFL and CFL players on these lists. As of recently he released a list of the top fifteen most efficient receivers in terms of yards per reception, with a caveat being that you had to catch at least 50 passes in the 2021 season to qualify. Big shout out to Pro Stats Canada for allowing me to use their graphic for this article.
On that list there were a total of four players who make their living playing in the Canadian Football League. With 6 NFL receivers falling under him on the list the first name you come across is Lucky Whitehead of the BC Lions. If you’re a Cowboys fan, his name might ring a distant bell.
Whitehead began his professional career playing for the Cowboys as a running back, receiver, and return man. He would play with the Cowboys for two seasons 2015, and 2016 before moving on to play one season in New York with the Jets. He is no stranger to being on lists with NFL caliber talent. However he hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2017 season. He landed in the CFL following the 2017 season. Ultimately he collected 20 carries for 189 yards, 11 targets, 9 receptions for 64 yards, and added 1,151 yards on returns on 77 attempts.
He spent the 2018 season out of football, before landing with Winnipeg in 2019. He would make an immediate impact on the Blue Bombers. The 5’10 177 lb speedster, played in 15 games his first season. He was targeted 72 times, catching 52 of them, which amounts to a 72% catch rate. He would total 521 yards with 322 of them coming after the catch as well as 2 tds. He added 9 carries for 92 yards and 1 td as a runner, and 712 yards on 29 returns.
He would stay in his contract with Winnipeg for the 2020 season, before hitting free agency prior to the 2021 season when he would sign with the BC Lions. In 2021 he had a true break out season with BC, he was targeted 82 times catching 60 of them for 932 yards and 4 tds, adding 2 carries for 12 yards, 12 punt returns for 130 yards and 1 td, and 2 missed field goal returns for 138 yards and 1 td.
During the 2021 season Whitehead averaged 15.5 yards per reception, tying him with another CFL receiver…Eugene Lewis.
Eugene Lewis is an American player who never found a role in the NFL as a rookie, and ultimately immediately landed in Montreal. He started off slow, but has since developed into the number 1 receiver on a roster that also includes Jake Weineke.
2021 was Lewis’s fifth in the CFL, all with Montreal. After a rookie year that saw him spend most of his time on the practice roster, he still appeared in 2 games tallying 7 receptions on 9 targets for 120 yards. In year 2 the Alouettes realized that Lewis could do a lot more than ride the bench, and gave him a more prominent role. In 2018 he would appear in all 18 games, seeing 68 targets. He caught 44 passes for 827 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 18.8 yards per reception.
This would mark the first in a 3 season stretch of him topping 800 yards through the air for Montreal. In year 3 the true break out year for most wide receivers Lewis continued to live up to the growing hype by logging 72 receptions on 112 targets averaging 15.7 yards per reception, on his way to 1,133 yards and his first 1,000 yard season. In 2021 he saw a dip in stats due to the shorter season.
Playing in just 14 games, he still saw 105 targets, catching 62 passes for 964 yards and a career-high 9 touchdowns. He would average 15.5 yards per reception, good enough to tie him with Lucky Whitehead, for 8th place. Lewis however is just the first of two Montreal Alouettes that appear on this list.
The third CFL receiver found on this list is none other than Kenny Lawler. Lawler spent the first two years of his career trying to latch on with the Seahawks under Pete Carroll in 2016 and 2017. By 2018 he decided he would rather play than ride a bench and headed north.
With the CFL he landed in BC originally but ultimately never appeared in a game for them and wound up with Winnipeg by October where he landed on the practice roster at first. Lawler would return in 2019 as a big time contributor for the squad that has won back to back Grey Cups in 2019 and 2021.
The two years he subsequently developed a starting role on the team. In 29 games Lawler has caught 107 passes for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns winning two Grey Cups in the process, but now Lawler following a 15.8 yard per reception average in 2021 takes his talents to the Edmonton Elks who have been had fingers pointed at them regarding their cap situation.
The Final CFL name on this list is the same man who led the CFL in touchdown receptions in 2021. That man is Jake Weineke. Weineke is a guy who in just his second season at the CFL record has put up statistics that mirror his college statistics, by displaying just how difficult he can be to stop when the Alouettes get in the redzone.
His 19 touchdowns in just two seasons of professional level play, are nothing short of amazing. His 6’4 210 lb frame, and background playing basketball certainly help him high point the ball and come down with many 50/50 balls on deep passes which is part of the reason Jake Weineke adds yet another list under his belt, as the CFL league leader in yards per reception.
Weineke finds himself tied for the 4th highest average with Van Jefferson, falling just .1 shy of Tyler Lockett. The top two receivers were Deebo Samuel, and Jamar Chase at over 18 yards per reception a piece.
With all that being said the Montreal Alouettes, can easily stake claim to the most dangerous duo of receivers in the Canadian Football League. Whether it is yards per reception, or touchdown receptions, Eugene Lewis, and Jake Weineke have found themselves at or near the top of the CFL.
They are obviously blessed with a tremendous run game to take some pressure away from them, but to say that is the sole reason they have been so successful would be a stretch. I know I will be watching to see what the Montreal passing attach can accomplish, and who will be leading the way heading into the 2022 season with Vernon Adams, and Trevor Harris expected to battle for the starting job.
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