On a night that featured a couple of early reaches and risky picks by some CFL teams, Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins played it safe, opting to beef up Ottawa’s depth along the offensive line and linebacking corps.
Let’s take an individual look at each player the Redblacks added.
First round (7th overall): OL Jason Lauzon-Seguin, Laval
While some mock drafts had him going first overall, Seguin found at home with the Redblacks. Despite not being as highly touted as some of his Laval brethren taken before him, Ottawa landed a fantastic offensive lineman. The 6-foot-4, 294 pound, 25 years old boasts quick feet, a ton of athleticism (putting up 27 bench press reps at the Combine) and the ability to play multiple positions along the line. Though last season was his first (and only) as a starter at Laval, Seguin dominated en route to being named a 2015 CIS All-Star.
With Ottawa seemingly set on starting four Canadians along their offensive line, Seguin provides important depth. In mini-camp (at the end of April), the Redblacks had Nolan MacMillan at right tackle, but if Seguin distinguishes himself in training camp, he could potentially assume that role and kick MacMillan back to guard, where he thrived last season.
Second round (16th overall): DB Mikael Charland, Concordia
With his second pick of the night, Desjardins chose to take another tough player capable of playing multiple positions, as the 6-foot-4, 212 pound Charlene can line up at DB or LB. R-Nation can expect to see him to see him make an immediate contribution to Ottawa’s special teams, as Charland’s open-field tackling abilities are top notch. In fact, Charland led Concordia in tackles the past three seasons. Last year alone he made 46.5 tackles and 3 INTs. The Gatineau product had a mixed Combine, struggling in one-on-ones yet flashing good speed with a 4.5 second time in 40 yard dash. Charland also addresses a need by providing valuable depth behind DB/LB Antoine Pruneau.
Third round (25th overall): DL Mehdi Abdesmad, Boston College (6’7″, 284-lbs)
If you want to gauge how far the Redblacks have come in terms of their National depth, this pick is the measuring stick. Selecting the hulking 6-foot-7, 284 pound Abdesmad shows that Ottawa now has the ability to plan for the future and not simply address immediate needs. That’s because Abdesmad was the only Canadian to be invited to the NFL Combine and after going undrafted in the NFL, signed with the Tennessee Titans.
Following a season ending knee injury in 2014, Abdesmad stayed healthy last year, playing in 11 games, notching 49 tackles (with 15 for a loss) and 5.5 sacks. Abdesmad is a powerful lineman who commands double teams and can play both inside and outside on the defensive line.
While the Montreal native is headed to Titans training camp, it’s unlikely he makes Tennessee’s final roster. Barring a practice roster spot, he’ll probably join the Redblacks in September or next season.
Fourth round (34th pick) : LB Kevin Jackson, Sam Houston State
Born in Canada but raised in Texas, Jackson is a stocky 5-foot-10, 223 pound linebacker who isn’t afraid of contact. Despite missing most the of 2015 season with injuries, Jackson was a special teams ace in 2014, making 16 tackles (9 solo) as a reserve linebacker.
Fifth round (43rd overall): OL Randy Beardy, Windsor
A 6-foot-7, 290 pound lineman, Beardy will be a depth player as he develops and refines his technique. With the ability to play tackle, Beardy could back up MacMillan or Seguin, or he could chose to go back to school for a 5th year. Beardy was an East-West Bowl participant in 2015, took part in the Toronto regional Combine and figures to get along just fine with Jon Gott.
Sixth Round (45th overall): OL Kyle Fraser-Audit, Guelph
Using the pick gained from trading WR Maurice Price to the GREENWHITES, Desjardins selected a 6-foot-5, 290 pound lineman who provides further depth along the offensive line.
Seventh round (54th overall): LB Arto Khatchikian, Concordia
Over the two seasons, 6-foot, 225 pound Khatchikian racked up 82 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT and 1 forced fumble. Like Charland and Jackson, Khatchikian will immediately contribute on special teams.
Seventh round (60th pick): WR Jamal Kett, Western
With Brad Sinopoli, Jake Harty, Scott Macdonell, Phillip Enchill and Alex Pierzchalski already on the roster, the he 6-foo-5, 214 pound Kett provides even further depth to an already strong area. Kett, Simon Fraser’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, is a physical receiver who isn’t afraid to engage blockers on run plays. Last season with Western Kett caught 29 passes for 447 yards and 2 TDs.
Eighth round (69th pick): LB Guillaume Trembly-Lebel, Laval
Tipping the scales at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, the 25 years old Lebel took part in the Montreal Combine and figures to develop into a reliable special teamer.
All in the all, the Redblacks had another solid, if unexciting draft. Desjardins didn’t trade up and kept to his to his MO of drafting from the trenches out. Adding three offensive lineman (including one with the potential to start in Seguin) was crucial if Ottawa does indeed plan to start four Canadians. Drafting Abdesmad on the defensive line is a sign that the Redblacks are now at a point that they can afford to spend draft picks on players who will exhaust NFL aspirations before heading North. When he does touch down in Ottawa, expect Abdesmad to blossom under the tutelage of DL coach Leroy Blugh. While on the subject of defensive line, I will admit that I’m a bit disappointed that the Redblacks didn’t select Rupert Butcher, who ultimately went to Winnipeg. Butcher was still around at the end of the 5th round and with two selections in three picks, the Redblacks easily could’ve snagged him and added some much needed depth to their defensive line.
By selecting four linebacker types (although Charland is more of a DB), Desjardins has given special teams coach Bob Dyce a number of tools to mould and work with. Charland, Jackson, Khatchikian and Lebel all figure to feature prominently on cover teams.
It’s worth noting that all of the players drafted by the Redblacks are from Quebec or Ontario. The French players naturally appeal to R-Nation’s significant quebecois population, but more importantly, drafting players from the East makes it less likely that they’ll want to head West when it comes time to sign them to second contracts. The thinking goes that they’ll be more likely to want to remain with Ottawa to be closer to their families.