With the NFL draft now in the books and several Canadian prospects having signed with American clubs as priority free agents – and several more getting mini-camp invites – it’s time to look at the implications on Sunday’s CFL draft.
1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Faith Ekakitie, Iowa
Pro-ready and stout, Ekakitie has the potential to be a day-one starter with the Bombers at nose tackle. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the draft, but Ekakitie should hash out a nice career in the CFL.
2. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Mason Woods, Idaho
There are questions about Woods’ bend and balance, but the Riders are looking for tackle prospects. At 6’9, 320 pounds, there’s no doubt that Woods has the size to play on the outside.
3. B.C. Lions — DL Randy Colling, Gannon
A late addition to the draft, Colling joins the Leos as an impactful interior defensive lineman with some pro seasoning in the Arena League. Once he sheds weight, Colling will be one of the best interior pass rushers from this year’s draft class.
4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — OL Dariusz Bladek, Bethune-Cookman
Bladek was shaky in the one-on-ones at the CFL combine, but his name won’t go away from the discussion surrounding the draft’s top four selections. The fact that he’s already been through the NFL rigamarole is a major asset.
5. Edmonton Eskimos — LB Cameron Judge, UCLA
A late addition to this year’s draft class, Judge is the best athlete available who is currently without an NFL opportunity. With 4.50 speed at 220 pounds, Judge will have an immediate impact on special teams with the possibility of getting reps on defence behind free agent addition Cory Greenwood.
6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Braden Schram, Calgary
Schram is a solid physical specimen at 6’3, 311 who put up solid testing numbers and had a respectable showing in the combine’s one-on-ones. Manitoba’s Geoff Gray may be the pick here, but I believe his NFL stock is too high to risk such a high selection.
7. B.C. Lions — LB Christophe Mulumba, Maine
Mulumba fills the void on the Lions’ special teams left by Boseko Lokombo. The Maine product has a mini-camp date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up.
— Justin Dunk (@JDunk12) April 30, 2017
8. Calgary Stampeders — DL Junior Luke, Montreal
With Junior Turner out for the year with a torn ACL, the Stamps suddenly need help along the interior of the defensive line. Enter Luke, a dominant performer at Montreal who should immediately earn reps at the CFL level.
9. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Justin Vaughn, Fordham
You can never have too many national defensive linemen when you sometimes start three Canadians up front. Vaughn’s got great size at 6’5, 287 pounds and has a knack for spending time in opposing backfields.
10. Toronto Argonauts — DL Kwaku Boateng, Wilfred Laurier
Boateng, the premier edge rusher of the 2017 draft class, should immediately make an impact on special teams. Boateng recently accepted an invitation to take part in the Chicago Bears’ mini-camp.
11. Saskatchewan Roughriders — RB Johnny Augustine, Guelph
Augustine was one of the biggest risers at the combine, testing well in the drills and dominating in the pass protection one-on-ones. His versatility as a ball carrier and receiver make him a prime target for a Rider team that is expected to start a Canadian running back in 2017.
12. Montreal Alouettes — OL Jean-Simon Roy, Laval
Roy will be limited to playing centre due to his size (6’2, 287), but the kid reminds me of Dominic Picard — strong as an ox and angry as sin. With Luc Brodeur-Jordain at 34 and Kristian Matte arguably best-suited to playing guard, an investment at centre could be wise for new Montreal G.M. Kavis Reed.
13. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — REC Danny Vandervoort, McMaster
Many have Vandervoort going to the Ticats at four, but I think they may be able to get him in the second round. The kid’s got talent, but linemen rule CFL draft boards.
14. Edmonton Eskimos — DB Dondre Wright, Henderson State
Wright is among the draft’s biggest defensive backs (5’10, 200) who possesses great foot speed and physicality from the safety spot. He’ll have an immediate impact on special teams.
15. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Nate Behar, Carleton
Boasting strong athleticism (22 bench reps, 4.61 40-yard dash), soft hands, and tremendous intangibles, Behar could quickly become the Bombers’ best national pass catcher. Look for him to contribute on special teams right away.
16. B.C. Lions — OL Geoff Gray, Manitoba
The Lions make the first “futures” pick of the draft, adding to their list of stateside tackle prospects that already includes San Diego Charger Brett Boyko. Gray recently signed with the Green Bay Packers, earning a $5,000 signing bonus.
17. Calgary Stampeders — DL Eli Ankou, UCLA
The trend of futures continues with Ankou, now a member of the Houston Texans. Should he ever come north, Ankou will likely be the best defensive lineman of the 2017 draft class.
18. Ottawa Redblacks — Qadr Spooner, McGill
Arguably the final first-tier offensive lineman on the board (Gray and Mississippi State’s Justin Senior excluded), Spooner goes to the Redblacks to shore up the depth along the offensive line. Spooner projects as a CFL guard.