The Hamilton Tiger-Cats wanted Danny Vandervoort. The fans wanted Danny Vandervoort. Unfortunately, so did the the B.C. Lions.
The McMaster Marauder receiver was selected by the Lions with the No. 3 selection in Sunday’s CFL Draft – one slot ahead of the Ticats at No. 4. Vice-president of football operations Kent Austin said the team wasn’t planning on taking Vandervoort with the top pick but hoped to trade up in order to make it happen.
“We figured he was going to go in the first round, we tried to trade up a couple of times prior to the draft to get another first round pick,” Austin said. “But B.C. took him and that settled it.”
The he Ticats selected University of Calgary defensive end Connor McGough in the first round, ignoring a number of highly-touted offensive lineman as well Carleton receiver Nate Behar, who was taken by the Eskimos at No. 5.
“He was the best guy on the board for our entire staff,” Austin said. “He’s a complete football player, he’s committed and he’s going to be a great fit in the locker room.”
The 21-year-old McGough played 26 games for the Dinos from 2013 to 2016, registering 67 total tackle and nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-2, 251-pound, McGough played one season at running back before converting to defensive line and twice earning Canada West all-star nods.
McGough was the 20th-ranked prospect on the final version of the CFL scouting bureau and wasn’t slotted as first-round selection in most mock drafts. While the pick makes sense from a ratio standpoint – the team has Justin Capicciotti under contract – the Ticats played with two American defensive ends last season in John Chick and Arian Tracy.
Still, McGough will give them ratio flexibility – something Austin has stressed – and options in the future. His athletic ability means he can likely contribute on special teams in the short term.
With their pick in the second round, Hamilton selected McGough’s teammate Braden Schram, 6-foot-3, 311 pounder who had an excellent CFL Combine in March. The Ticats needed offensive line depth after releasing veteran Pete Dyakowski then seeing youngster Mathieu Girard unexpectedly retire.
In the third, the Ticats selected another defensive lineman, Kay Okafor from St. Francis Xavier. A native of Nigeria, Okafor left his family at age 18 to pursue an education in Canada, and came to the game late. Austin says he could play tackle, end or even offensive line.
“He’s raw but he projects in a lot of different spots,” Austin said. “We love him as a person, he’s pure athletic ability and his maturity.”
Having traded away their fourth-round pick in the deal that brought Capicciotti and offensive lineman Xavier Fulton to the team last season, the Ticats took yet another defensive lineman with their fifth rounder in Hamilton native Justin Vaughn who played his college ball at Fordham University. He was the team’s defensive player-of-the-year in 2016.
In the six round, Hamilton selected Guelph receiver Jacob Scarfone who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, then took Wilfrid Laurier offensive lineman Brett Golding in round seven before taking running back Sean Thomas-Erlington with their final selection.
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