Redblacks On The Clock

For the second year in a row, the Ottawa Redblacks hold the 1st overall pick in the CFL draft. Last year they traded their pick (which became Pierre Lavertu) to the Calgary Stampeders for veteran all-star centre Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott. Will GM Marcel Desjardins make another trade this year? Today’s post will take a look at some of the names being mentioned as potential 1st overall selections and examine if it makes sense for Desjardins to trade his first round pick again.

1) OL Alex Mateas, Centre


An Ottawa native, the 6’4”, 309 pound Mateas was a three year starter (29 games) for the University of Connecticut. Though normally a centre, with his blend of athleticism and size, Mateas could quite easily play guard in the pros. Named a team captain in his final season, Mateas has the strength to match his size, as evidenced by his success in weightlifting. While it seems like a no brainer selection, the Redblacks may chose to pass on Mateas due to the fact that he will attend the New York Jets rookie mini-camp, which runs from Thursday to Saturday, in hopes of earning a contract. On one hand Mateas has the ability to step in and start from day one, which is exactly the kind of re-enforcement Ottawa’s offensive line needs, but is Desjardins willing to gamble that Mateas receives no significant NFL offers?

Odds of being taken #1: High

2) OL Danny Groulx, Tackle


The latest in a long line of polished, dominant offensive lineman coming out of Laval, the 6’6”, 325 pound Groulx won two championships during his time with the Rouge et Or. Known for his physicality Groulx notes that

“Some people see the offensive line as people that take the hit or just push people around. If you want to be a great offensive lineman you can’t just take the hit, you have to bring the hit.  It’s something special to bring someone from Point A to Point B against his will.”

If I’m a GM, that’s EXACTLY the attitude I want my offensive line to have. A solid combine performance, including going undefeated in the one-on-one drill, cemented his status as one of the top lineman in this year’s draft. With his size and skill, Groulx has the chance to be a rare ratio breaking Canadian tackle. Another thing that Groulx has going for him is that he is the only top prospect who hasn’t received any NFL interest so far, meaning the Redblacks could be sure he’d immediately available.

Odds of being taken #1: High

3) OL Sukh Chungh, Guard


The 6’4”, 300 pound Calgary Dino is renown for his strength and mean streak. Playing guard, Chungh started for the Dinos since the 2012 season, twice being named a CIS All-Canadian. A strong combine performance culminated with Chungh absolutely dominating in the one-on-ones, his power and brawling on full display.

“I believe I bring a little bit of nastiness to the table. I like to get after it and really put the shift on and go to work to get to grind mode.”

Though Chungh wasn’t selected in the NFL draft, he has been invited to the New York Giants’ rookie mini-camp on a try out basis. With the mini-camp taking place next weekend and the CFL draft on May 12th, it’s unlikely Desjardins waits until the last minute to make his decision.

Odds of being taken #1: Medium

4) OL Sean McEwen, Centre


Tipping the scales at 6’3”, 293 pounds, McEwen, a teammate of Chungh’s, was a four year starter at Calgary and is another player viewed as a plug and play guy. A three time conference all-star and two time All Canadian, McEwen is a polished prospect. McEwen had a strong combine performance, winning five of his seven match ups during the one-on-ones. Ottawa definitely has a need for interior offensive linemen and don’t underestimate the Calgary connection. Head Coach Rick Campbell is familiar with McEwen from his time in Calgary, as he often took in Dino games. Just like Chungh, McEwen will participate in the Giants’ rookie mini-camp on a try out basis.

Odds of being taken #1: Medium

5) OL Jacob Ruby, Tackle


The imposing 6’7”, 315 pound University of Richmond product made 47 career starts for the Spiders over the past four years. Sporting a beard that would make Jon Gott and Eric Fraser proud, Ruby projects to be either a guard of tackle in the CFL. Highly athletic, Ruby put up underwhelming combine numbers and underwhelmed during one-on-ones. Just like Groulx, Ruby is an intriguing prospect because of his ability to potentially be a ratio breaking Canadian left tackle, but again, his participation in the upcoming Giants rookie mini-camp on a try out basis will probably force Ottawa to look in another direction with the #1 pick.

Odds of being taken #1: Low

6) WR Lemar Durant


The big bodied 6’3”, 231 pound receiver might be the best overall athlete in the draft. With sub 4.5 speed in the 40 yard dash, Durant put up 26 reps on the bench press, good for 6th overall (ahead of every offensive lineman exception McEwen) and had a vertical jump of 36 inches. His strong combine raised eyes south of the border and there is reported strong NFL interest in the Simon Fraser product. Last season’s body of work exemplifies his explosiveness and big play ability, Durant made 55 catches for 685 yards and 4 TDs. Durant is a wildcard in the draft, a top talent who could seemingly go as high as first overall, or slide depending on the NFL interest. Just like Chung, McEwen and Ruby, Durant has also been invited to the Giants’ mini-camp on a try out basis. A deep-threat with the size to be a red zone target, Durant would instantly improve any WR core he joins, yet you’d have to think that with all of the other WR additions the Redblacks made this season (Jackson, Ellingson, Sinopoli, Price, Williams), that they pass on him.

Odds of being taken #1: Low

7) OL Brett Boyko, Tackle


The 6’7”, 301 pound Saskatoon native is a long shot to ever grace a CFL roster. After spending the last five seasons playing at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Boyko received an invitation to the NFL Combine. Though he put up medicare numbers, including 17 reps on the bench press, that didn’t stop him from quickly being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted. Even if he ends up being cut in training camp, the earliest Boyko could head to the CFL is around September. Something else that may scare off interested CFL teams is the fact Boyko has repeatedly stated that his CFL dream is to play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

As Ottawa needs help now, it’s highly unlikely Desjardins risks his first pick on a player who, at best, might play in the CFL down the road.

Odds of being taken #1: Low

8) DL Christian Covington, Tackle


The 6’2″, 289 pound Rice defensive tackle finished #1 on the CFL’s final scout rankings before the draft but that doesn’t mean much considering that the Houston Texans selected Covington in the 6th round of this weekend’s NFL draft. Though limited by a knee injury in 2014, over 33 games started during his time at Rice, Covington made 122 tackles, including 22.5 for a loss and had 11.5 sacks. Just like with Boyko, Desjardins won’t take a player who has been drafted and very likely going to at least make Houston’s practice squad.

Odds of being taken #1: Zero

Lastly, there’s always the possibility of a trade. With the high amount of NFL interest in top prospects like Mateas, Boyko, Chung, McEwan, Durant and Covington and the uncertainty goes along with that, Ottawa might be better off trading down and collecting more picks. Keep in mind that this is the deepest draft in years and Ottawa currently doesn’t have a 3rd round pick. If they did trade down there’s a good possibility that they could probably still grab someone like McEwen or Ruby in the middle of the 1st round depending how their NFL try outs go. With the way things stand now, Groulx seems like the safest bet to immediately step in and contribute and by picking him Ottawa would avoid any NFL uncertainty.

Who do you think the Redblacks should select 1st overall?


Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).