The six-foot-six, 300-pound St. John spent the last two seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners, starting four of the 15 games he suited up for.
He made all four starts at tackle last season after dressing for eight of the Sooners’ 15 contests in 2014.
The communications major was the top available prospect for the draft, ranked fifth overall by the CFL scouting bureau.
The top four prospects – Manitoba defensive lineman David Onyemata, Iowa receiver Tevaun Smith, Boston College defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad and Michigan State cornerback Arjen Colquhoun – were either drafted into the NFL or had signed contracts south of the border.
St. John, a native of Ajax, Ont., will also be heading south as he will participate in the Oakland Raiders’ rookie mini-camp this weekend.
Saskatchewan posted a CFL-worst 3-15 record last season but is now being led by head coach/GM Chris Jones, who guided the Edmonton Eskimos to last year’s Grey Cup crown as their head coach.
Jones had said prior to the draft he’d entertain trade offers for the No. 1 pick but kicked off the proceedings by calling St. John’s name.
The Montreal Alouettes, who’ve traditionally started five Canadians on their offensive line, took Laval guard Philippe Gagnon second overall. The six-foot-three, 317-pound native of L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que., was a two-time CIS second-team All-Canadian and had the most reps in the bench press (40) at the CFL combine in March.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who moved into No. 3 in a trade with B.C., continued the run of offensive linemen, selecting Brandon Revenberg of Grand Valley State. The native of Windsor, Ont., started 39 of 46 games in college but wasn’t named on the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-20 draft prospects list.
The Toronto Argonauts, at No. 4, took Acadia receiver Brian Jones. The six-foot-four, 233-pound native of Enfield, N.S., had 45 catches for 630 yards and four TDs last season but is recovering from a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist.
B.C. took Laval offensive lineman Charles Vaillancourt fifth overall. The six-foot-four, 315-pound Vaillancourt was highly regarded for his strong all-around game and on-field consistency and at No. 6 was the second-highest ranked offensive lineman in the draft.
Calgary selected Montana State linebacker Alex Singleton at No. 6. The six-foot-two, 233-pound Singleton is a California native who had signed previously with Seattle, New England and Minnesota in the NFL following his collegiate career but was deemed eligible for the CFL draft after becoming a Canadian citizen.
He becomes the third player to go in the CFL draft after attending an NFL training camp. Offensive lineman Wayne Smith did so in 2004 before former Western star Vaughn Martin – now with the Montreal Alouettes – repeated the feat in ’11.
A third Laval offensive lineman went in the first round as Jason Lauzon-Seguin was taken seventh overall by the East Division-champion Ottawa Redblacks. The six-foot-four, 294-pound Pointe-Claire, Que., native is regarded as a potential tackle in the CFL.
Grey Cup-champion Edmonton concluded the opening round by rolling the dice on Smith at No. 8. The six-foot, 205-pound Toronto native is a future pick but had 68 catches for 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns last two seasons at Iowa.
Winnipeg didn’t have a first-round pick, forfeiting it – which would’ve been second overall – to take Dartmouth linebacker/defensive back Garrett Waggoner in last year’s supplemental draft.
The Bombers did have the first two selections of the second (Nos 9-10) and used them to take Virginia defensive lineman Trent Corney and Simon Fraser offensive lineman Michael Couture, respectively. The six-foot-two, 254-pound Corney, a very athletic player from Brockville, Ont., had 51 tackles and four sacks as a collegian while the six-foot-four, 294-pound Couture was the draft’s 16th-ranked prospect.