From Grey Cup Champions in 2016 to an early playoff exit in 2017, the RedBlacks are a team looking to alter their downward trend. They also have some big holes to fill in terms of Canadian content with offseason departures to Zach Evans, Jake Harty, Patrick Lavoie, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon and Matt Albright.
Traditionally Ottawa has held on to their picks very tightly. In the past 4 drafts combined (including 2018) they only traded away 3 of their picks. (How’s that for a useless fact?).
Picks: 7 picks, first selection is 4th overall
2017 Draft Assessment: First round pick Evan Johnson was a solid add as he finished his rookie season as a starter. But beyond that it’s tough to categorize the draft as anything better than mediocre. They oddly chose to draft 3 running backs including using a 2nd rounder on one. If 3rd round pick Eli Ankou ever ventures north it would significantly improve their draft grade.
Potential Pipeline: DL Mehdi Abdesmad (NFL), DL Eli Ankou (NFL – Jacksonville), TE Tyler Digby (lacrosse)
Current Strengths: Gotta love their OL and the ability to start 4 quality Canadians (Gott, MacMillan, Johnson, Lauzon-Seguin). Sinopoli is the top Cdn WR in the league at this point. Pruneau gives them a defensive starter. They have the quantity to start a Cdn DL with the likes of Waud, Lattanzio and Williams. They also have an abundance of Cdn RBs though I honestly don’t know why given that they start Powell.
Current Needs: Four things should be on Ottawa’s wish list. A receiver to back-up Sinopoli. A DB/LB to provide quality depth for Pruneau. An O-lineman (A team starting 4 Cdn OL needs to constantly be building depth there). And a D-lineman to replace Zach Evans. They did add Daryl Waud which helps a bit but a for a team whose D-line was not very good last season (and now without their best DL) it’s an area they should still be looking to strengthen. If their NFL prospects Ankou and Abdesmad ever came north it would suddenly turn DL into an area of strength.
Prediction: As much as I could see Ottawa going WR in round 1, I can’t see Chapman falling to them and I can’t see them taking Simonise that high. They will wait on that until the mid-rounds. That leaves the trenches as the likely target in Round 1. In each of the past 3 years they have gone OL in round 1 and I see that continuing (though Julien Laurent is a possibility). Hunter or Rutherford seem likely. In round 2 they would be well advised to target a DB/LB such as Bennett or Guztlak-Messam.