Five players who have jumped into first round consideration

The national combine can substantially impact prospects’ draft grades and after teams have reviewed the film, there are some athletes who have put themselves in the first-round discussion.

Receivers Mark Chapman, Rashaun Simonise, offensive lineman Ryan Hunter, Trey Rutherford, Peter Goder, Dakoda Shepley, Mark Korte, David Knevel and defensive lineman Julien Laurent all went in the first round in CFL mock draft 1.0. Based on pure talent that group deserves to be top picks, but the CFL talent grab is unique and NFL considerations must be factored into the final decision.

Through the combine process, five other players put themselves in the first round discussion.

Arnaud Gendron-Dumouchel, OL, Montreal

The 6-foot-9, 310-pound offensive lineman has the rare combo of towering size and fluid movement skills. Gendron-Dumouchel acquitted himself well in the one-on-one reps against the top defensive lineman in the 2018 class. The performance in Winnipeg by the imposing Carabins product jumped him up the board. Visions of the next Matt O’Donnell are bouncing around in evaluators heads.

Photo Credit: Kha Vo

Godfrey Onyeka, DB, Laurier

Confidence oozed out of Onyeka before the combine including his desire to be selected No. 1 overall. He backed that up over the showcase weekend in the Manitoba capital. Length, speed and quickness were evident while Onyeka locked down most receivers – except for Mark Chapman. Onyeka is fiercely physical which has some scouts believing the best fit at the pro level might be at linebacker and if that’s the case Onyeka would be viewed as the top player in that position group.

Photo Credit: Kha Vo

Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, DB, Laurier

Scouts knew Guzylak-Messam was physical, but there were questions to be answered about his speed and the Golden Hawks defensive back answered them quickly – literally. He ran the fastest 10- (1.54 seconds) and 20-yard (2.48 seconds) and 40-yard (4.51) hand times proving his acceleration and long speed are pro-ready. Those traits make it easy to view Guzylak-Messam as a starter at safety or field corner. Note: There is no relation to Riders running back Jerome Messam.

Jackson Bennett, DB/LB, Ottawa

The versatile Gee-Gees defender was the quickest (4.09 shuttle and 7.02 three-cone) and strongest (22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press) defensive back at the CFL combine. Bennett blazed a 4.48 40-yard time at his Ottawa pro day. All of that speed, be in short distance or long, has improved Bennett’s final draft grade and made him a near lock to go in round one. There are personnel men who believe Bennett moves more smoothly than Antoine Pruneau who was selected fourth overall in the 2014 CFL draft by the Redblacks – Ottawa traded up to ensure getting Pruneau.

Jordan Beaulieu, DB, Western

Beaulieu has a chiselled frame and the athletism to go along with it, 35.5-inch vertical ranked first among all the defensive backs at the national event and his 4.57 laser-timed 40 from the Ontario regional flashed his speed. The Montreal native presented himself well in team interviews – arguably the most important aspect of the combine – as teams came away feeling Beaulieu already operates in a professional manner. He could be an immediate contributor on special teams while developing as a starter at safety who could be rangy in the secondary.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (902 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

20 Comments on Five players who have jumped into first round consideration

  1. Rick cowan // April 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm //

    I think you will see the Rider’s grab one of these 4 defensive backs with there first pick

    • Very few DBs selected over the past two drafts and of all the players selected ALL were out of the NCAA.
      Dondre Wright chosen in 2017 and a starting DB.
      Conteh in Winnipeg injured and never played last season.
      In the 2016 draft, Anthony Thompson did start at safety and Arjen Colquhoun is a starting DB.

      NONE of the CIS DBs will be selected. Teams will jump to the NCAA DBs on the list. Teams will stock up on the “O” linemen.

  2. Scottsask // April 11, 2018 at 4:19 pm //

    Which we deperately need.

    • Canadian DBs? they will end up as backup safetys and special teams players.

    • I think we’re OK for veterans, especially if MOB is there for the start of training camp, but this is the only area where we don’t have good young guys coming up as well, so I could easily see us taking one of these, and we would get a good one at 5.

  3. The cream always rises to the top as the old saying goes. All these guys should be drafted high and do well but as we all know any pro draft is not a exact science. Some highly drafted guys do well and some low drafted guys do better. Really gets down to overall ability, desire and dedication to the sport in improving themselves.

    • Looking at last years to draft picks. The two highly rated Canadian receivers that went in the first round.
      Behar had zero catches but 4 special teams tackles in 12 games. Vandervoort had 1 catch for 25 yards last season.
      In the 2016 draft the top pick was Brian Jones – Zero catches in two seasons but 6 special teams tackles.
      The other WR selected in 2016 was Juwan Brescain, at least he had 260 yards receiving on 19 receptions over 2 seasons.

      The priority for teams is going to be the big “O” linemen the other positions are just fillers.

  4. Come on Cats, trade the rights to Johnny Football to the Als for the 1st pick. Then they pick 1st and 2nd.

    Good to dream

  5. I hope the first round is more than just 7-8 offensive lineman

  6. Edward Leslie // April 11, 2018 at 7:57 pm //

    Jeff: Do the names Antoine Pruneau, Taylor Loffler, Craig Butler, Neil King, Mike Edem, Chris Ackie, Matt Bucknor, Marco Brouillette, Jermaine Gabriell, Mike Daly and Tunde Adeleke ring a bell at all? All are Canadians. All were drafted out of CIS, except Bucknor who was a free agent. All have impressed.
    I’m confident that we will see more talented DBs in the CFL in the future.

    As for highly touted receivers like Nate Behar, Danny Vandervoort and Brian Jones, the CFL has an
    annoying attitude of treating prospects with kid gloves. They feel these players need to learn the playbook and sometimes act like football is rocket science or brain surgery, needing an inordinate amount of apprenticing and learning the system and the playbook before they are ready.
    With just seven Canadian starters required out of 24, and most teams having three or four on Offensive line, plus firmly entrenched veterans at other spots, it can be difficult for gifted Canadian players to get their break sometimes. Even Jon Cornish had to be a backup to Joffrey Reynold and toil on special teams for three years.
    This is why I think the CFL should actually raise the Canadian starting ratio to 9 or 10.

    • “the CFL should actually raise the Canadian starting ratio to 9 or 10.”
      — i agree. the talent is there. i want to see more talented, starting canadians; and stop the downward number of canadians on cfl rosters. teams with good canadian depth often start more than seven. and while we are at it, canadian qbs under centre should be counted among the current seven starters.

      • I agree that a Canadian QB who is a starter should be counted, and I agree that the Canadian content should not be reduced, but there is another factor at play here which affects the CFL as well. The level of play in the CIS/USPORTS has improved greatly and because of this more of these players are ending up in the NFL. This shows great development in Canadian amateur football, but the supply of players to the CFL remains about the same, because so many more are going to the NFL. I believe there are about 20 Canadians or NI eligible players in the NFL right now, whereas maybe 20 years ago there were only a handful. For example, right now LTD, Boyko and Paztor are OTs in the NFL, and Wilson and Auclair are big TEs who in the past might have bulked up and become OTs. This represents a loss of potentially 5 starting OTs to the NFL, and not coincidentally, imo, we’re seeing more CFL teams going to 2 import OTs. So in certain positions while the level of Canadian talent in the world is clearly rising, the amount available to the CFL may actually be dropping a bit. I still think there’s enough right now, but when Halifax/Atlantic Canada comes in that’s going to mean an extra 21 Canadian jobs including 7 starters, and that could be a challenge. My early thoughts on this are that we should keep the overall number of Canadians on a team – which would mean and extra 21 jobs for Canadian players overall in the league – but drop the mandatory number of starters by 1. Currently there are 9×7=63 mandatory starters, and then it would become 10×6=60 mandatory starters, but teams currently regularly start more than the minimum number of Canadians so in practice there may not be any change in starters overall, but it would give teams more flexibility in a pinch.

        • Just a quick footnote. I said that a new team in Halifax would mean 21 new jobs for Canadians, but it would actually mean maybe 30, once you add in PR spots, a few on the IR, territorial exemptions, and any other miscellaneous categories I’ve missed.

  7. MJ Bandit // April 11, 2018 at 11:12 pm //

    Onyeka and Bennett are possible very good CFL safety prospects (plus Bennett has potential to play either OLB spot IMO); Beaulieu maybe too at safety. The 2 top safeties in the CFL now – IMO – are Pruneau & Loffler – both out of CIS ball (though Loffler started out in US college ball).

    Edward – not sure why you insist on replying to spam-boy and his never ending garbage denigrating CIS talent? You’re just encouraging a moron/troll – why bother? You like talking CFL ball with somebody who has zero clue about it and an obvious agenda?

  8. Edward Leslie // April 12, 2018 at 5:40 am //

    RFD: Even though our views on the subject differ slightly, I appreciate your thoughtful and reasoned explanation for your opinion.
    The addition of Halifax might be a challenge. But I figure that we have nine teams now, with a population of about 37 million. We had nine teams 50 years ago as well, when the population was about 20 million. The depth of talent for an increase in the ratio is there.
    General Managers, Coaches and Scouts all say that the talent is noticeably better at these combines, compared to even 10-15 years ago.
    The NFL is a slight factor. But in football, the policy has always been “Next man up”. If a team loses two or three quality players to injuries, nobody wants to use that as an excuse for not being successful.
    I think its the same thing here. There are about 20 Canadians in the NFL, but it’s not like they lose 20 players a year. Some of those guys, like Jon Ryan, Orlando Franklin and LP Ladoceur have been in the NFL for years. Losing 3-4 prospects a year on average isn’t catastrophic for the CFL. The Canadian talent pool in USports, CJFL and the growing number of Canucks in the NCAA is fairly substantial.
    Its not the shallow pond that some might think it is.

    • Remember that those 3-4 per year accumulate. So not only won’t they be here this year, but they also won’t be here next year and the year after, so that’s 3-4 this year, plus 3-4 next year, plus 3-4 the year after that, etc. Those guys who are having long careers in the NFL probably would have had long careers in the CFL too. A more subjective test, which is obviously harder to measure, is to assess whether the Canadian starters in the league are as good as the Americans. We don’t want a noticeable drop off in talent. This also has a big impact on salaries. If there starts to be a shortage of good Canadian starters then their salaries start going way up. So what we’re really looking for is the right balance.

  9. Edward Leslie // April 12, 2018 at 5:56 am //

    MJ Bandit:
    You’re right. There’s three or four people on this site that just say the same thing all the time and won’t (or can’t) give good counterpoints to a response that points out how their theories are flawed. Jeff is one of them. Oh well. He’s entitled to his opinion. But opinions are usually formed by the information that is presented to the contrary too. Being inflexible to changing your viewpoint is really just being narrow minded.
    These Johnny Manziel click bait articles are the same. It’s best to ignore them, rather than complain about them.
    The next Johnny Football article that I will read or respond to will be wgen he is signed or his rights are traded. Otherwise I’m not interested in the spring league, his T-shirts, his opinions, his workout routines, his excuses for his fall from grace or any other superficial non-CFL related “story”.

  10. canadianfootballfan // April 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm //

    Looks like the OUA, and Laurier in particular, is turning into a DB factory.

    Craig Butler was a Western guy.

  11. Edward Leslie // April 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm //

    RFD: i don’t know about that accumulation theory. The CFL might lose 3-4 good Canadian prospects to the NFL per year, but that doesn’t necessarily add up to a total of 15-20 after five years though.
    That’s because we see many of them returning north too.
    Jamal Westerman, Cory Greenwood, David Foucault, Linden Gaydosh, Henoc Muamba, Arjen Colquhoun, Matt O’Donnell and Dan Federkeil all returned to Canada after being in the NFL for a time. Some longer than others.
    I could see players like Justin Senior, Tevaun Smith, Brett Boyko, Bo Lokombo, Anthony Auclair, Elie Bouka,Andy Mulumba, Mehdi Abdesmad and Geoff Gray doing likewise over the next year or so. So it’s not just about subtraction, there’s addition too.

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