Bombers take Faith Ekakitie first overall in the CFL Draft

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie first overall in the CFL draft Sunday night.

The move wasn’t a surprise as the Bombers were reportedly in contract talks with the 24-year-old Brampton, Ont., native prior to the draft.

Ekakitie finished fifth on the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-20 prospects list last month, a jump of six positions.

Mississippi State offensive lineman Justin Senior of Montreal, UCLA defensive lineman Eli Ankou of Ottawa and Manitoba offensive lineman Geoff Gray of Winnipeg secured the top three spots on the top-20 list while Laval tight end Anthony Auclair was seventh. But Senior was taken in last weekend’s NFL draft while the other three signed as priority free agents.

The six-foot-one, 304-pound Ekakitie had 37 tackles last season for Iowa (8-4), adding two tackles in the Hawkeyes’ 30-3 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.

At Iowa’s pro day, Ekakitie had 24 reps in the bench press, a broad jump of eight feet five inches, 28.5-inch vertical leap and 40-yard dash time of 5.05 seconds.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders took UCLA linebacker Cameron Judge at No. 2. The six-foot-one, 220-pound Judge, a late addition to the draft, played 47 collegiate games, excelling on special teams while registering 46 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one interception.

At third overall, the B.C. Lions took McMaster slotback Danny Vandervoort, not a surprising move given the recent retirement of veteran Shawn Gore. The six-foot-two, 204-pound native of Barrie, Ont., was a three-time All-Canadian with the Marauders.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats selected Calgary defensive lineman Connor McGough with the fourth selection. The six-foot-two, 251-pound native of Medicine Hat, Alta., had 31 tackles and four sacks for the Dinos last season.

The Edmonton Eskimos, in GM Brock Sunderland’s first draft with the club, took Carleton receiver Nate Behard with the fifth pick. The native of London, Ont., had 57 catches for 788 yards and nine TDs last season and twice was an All-Canadian.

The Calgary Stampeders acquired the No. 6 pick from Winnipeg for the eighth and 34th selections and took Gannon University defensive lineman Randy Colling, who also has prior experience playing arena football. The 26-year-old was an All-Arena First Team pick in 2016.

B.C. made its second first-round selection at No. 7 and used it on Montreal defensive lineman Junior Luke. The six-foot-three, 234-pound Luke had 15.5 tackles and six sacks last season and fills a need for the Lions with Canadian Jabar Westerman now with the Alouettes.

Winnipeg then took a flyer on Gray, who’s currently under contract with the Green Bay Packers. The six-foot-five, 315-pound Winnipeg native, a mechanical engineering major, was a first-team All-Canadian with the Bisons.

Grey Cup-champion Ottawa concluded the opening round by taking Saskatchewan offensive lineman Evan Johnson at No. 9. The six-foot-four, 280-pound Regina native was a second-team All-Canadian last season.

The Toronto Argonauts made their first pick of the draft to open the second round and took Idaho offensive lineman Mason Woods, 22, at No. 10. The six-foot-nine, 320-pound Woods finished eighth on the final top-20 prospects list.

Saskatchewan selected Bethune-Cookman University offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek at No. 11. The six-foot-four, 306-pound Bladek missed last year’s draft and supplemental draft waiting to become a dual American-Canadian citizen after attending the Baltimore Ravens mini-camp in 2016.

The Montreal Alouettes’ first pick came at No. 12 and they took McMaster defensive tackle Fabion Foote. The six-foot-two, 280-pound Toronto native had 36 tackles and three sacks last season.

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