The CFL Draft goes down tomorrow. After watching the spectacle that is the NFL draft, it will seem like a sketchy Asian massage parlour as compered to a swanky Vegas strip joint (or so I’m told) but who cares. Anything that gets us talking about tangible football things makes me happy.
What also makes me happy is how many other people are also talking about the draft. I started this blog in 2007 and at that time I legitimately may have been the second leading media person on the CFL Draft outside of Duane Ford (which was the equivalent of being the 3rd best Manning brother at football). But these days there are a variety of podcasts and mock drafts out there. It really takes the pressure off me. I’m still convinced that no one outside Duane Forde knows anything (including most GMs) but at least others are taking interest.
The format of the draft this year is a bit different. Just 6 rounds and a snake draft format. We could also see a very different approach to the draft. Teams will essentially have a double draft class this year as the 2020 class will be coming to training camp as rookies in addition to the 2021. If I were a GM that would make me way more willing to take a risky high pick on a guy who may be in the NFL for a bit or someone who may be going back to school than in other years. It would actually be a detriment to have too many top end rookies because unless they can be day 1 starters, finding roster spots to keep all of them may be difficult. Thus guys like Chuba Hubbard, Alaric Johnson and Amen Ogbongbemiga may go higher than they otherwise would have.
Picks: 6 picks, first selection is 2nd Overall
Potential Pipeline: DL David Oneymata (New Orleans), TE Anthony Auclair (Houston), DL Neville Gallimore (Dallas)
Heading into the season I would have put money on us taking an OL at number 2. But the free agent addition of Evan Johnson and Brett Boyko suddenly gives us solid OL depth to go with Clark, Labatte, Schram and 2020 top pick Mattland Riley. At WR we have 2019 top picks Justin McInnis and Brayden Lenius. We may have a healthy Jake Harty with Mitch Picton and Kian Schaefer-Baker for depth. We also have Awachie and LeFrance as Cdn role players. Offensively I think we are in good shape.
Defensively we have loads of potential and options. In the secondary we have Edem, Bouka, and G Oneyka (all who have CFL starts), at LB we have Tietz and the Herdman brothers. At D-line we have Dabire (who you know I am very high on) with Mak Henry who is a solid depth/rotation guy. That’s 9 guys to cover 3 Canadian spots on defense and isn’t a complete list of all our Canadians.
One thing we also have is a wealth of solid special teamers: Kevin Francis, Blair Smith, Teitz, Reaves, LeFrance, the Herdmans and the Oneykas (which sounds like the football equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys).
Defense we have quantity but not necessarily quality. Edem is an established starter who can make an impact. But with the loss of Judge we really don’t have any other players who fit that mold. Guys like Dabire, G Oneyka, Bouka and the Herdmans have potential but if I’m being honest, are more likely to be solid rather than impact starters (think reliable Mike McCullough vs. playmaker Cam Judge). So we should certainly be looking to boost our talent pool at all defensive positions focusing mostly on DL (where we are the thinnest) and LB.
The other thing I would be looking at is a Canadian RB. I know the league is largely biased against them but when you look at the success guys like Sean-Thomas Erlington, Alex Milanovic-Litre and Johnny Augustine have had when given a chance, a 4th or 5th round pick on an RB when ours is the wrong side of 30 and you have no established back-up might be worth it on the off chance you land the next Erlington.
With a #2 overall pick and a late second rounder, the goal should be to land one player who can contribute this year and one player we may need to wait a year on. Which order you do that in becomes the question. Logic says you use your #2 pick to land an impact player now and use the second rounder on a futures pick. But with so many of the top prospects heading back to school (OL Liam Dobson and Sage Doxater, DL Mohamed Diallo, Daniel Joseph, Deshawn Stevens, DB Alonzo Addae) you could make a case for securing the rights to a top end player you need to wait on at 2 and then finding a player for this year in the second round (given that we don’t have massive needs). Also with our second pick coming late I expect a run on futures players so the top ones might not be left by #17.
I tend to lean toward getting a sure thing at #2 and taking a risk in round 2. Ideally I think we target a D-lineman but with the top options all heading back to school I think any of the immediately available options (Olivier Charles-Pierre, Alain Cimankinda) would be a reach at #2. Nelson Lokombo (a familiar name in this province) would be an option if you go DB. Though they are saying this is a pretty deep draft for DBs unlike some other positions. Or Ben Hladik if you go LB. You could also just play it safe and take an OL like Logan Bandy or Pier-Oliver Lestage. When in doubt draft an OL is not a bad strategy.
In the second round I’m swinging for the fences on a defensive prospect that is either NFL bound or going back to school. If LB Amen Ogbonbemiga drops that low I think you have to take him. Other options would be DL Mohamed Diallo, DL Daniel Joseph, LB Deshawn Stevens or even OL Alaric Johnson.