Offensive linemen dominate the 2018 CFL Draft

Trey Rutherford finally has clarity regarding his football future but will have to wait to celebrate.

The UConn offensive lineman went second overall to the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL draft Thursday night. The six-foot-five, 318-pound native of Markham, Ont., was the first of a record seven offensive linemen taken in the opening round but with a major paper due Friday, the sociology major couldn’t revel in his selection.

“It’s definitely a big relief,” Rutherford said during a conference call. “It’s definitely a very stressful time not knowing where you’re going and I’m definitely feeling good about this.

“But I have a 15-, 16-page (Methods and Social Science) paper to finish up and hand it in by 10 a.m. (Friday) and I know I’m making a trip to Montreal in the morning. I’m really excited for that, I don’t know if I’ll be able to concentrate.”

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats took receiver Mark Chapman first overall. The six-foot, 180-pound Chapman had 59 catches for 875 yards and five TDs last year at Central Michigan University and finished his collegiate career with 147 receptions for 2,035 yards and 10 TDs.

A resident of Port Huron, Mich., Chapman is deemed a Canadian in the CFL because he has dual Canadian-American status as his mother is from Sarnia, Ont. It wasn’t until his senior season that Chapman learned he could be eligible to play in Canada as a national player.

“I’d never thought I’d be No. 1, let alone be in a position to play professional ball,” Chapman said. “To go No. 1 in a professional draft was amazing.

“I was surrounded by my family and friends and all my close people. We got the call from (Hamilton coach June Jones), had a conversation with him and my family started cheering. It was really emotional.”

After performing before 32 NFL scouts at Central Michigan’s pro day, Chapman excelled at the CFL combine. He posted a time of 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had a 36-inch vertical jump, broad jump of 10 feet 7 1/4 inches and his shuttle time of 4.12 second was second-best overall.

Chapman then stood out in the one-on-one competitions and was projected as one of the most pro-ready players in the draft. Ironically, Hamilton took Chapman with the pick it acquired Wednesday from Montreal in a multi-player, multi-pick transaction.

“He plays faster than his 40 time . . . he’s really quick and very smart,” Jones said of Chapman. “I think he could help us right away and it gives us a versatility on the ratio.”

Five picks later, Hamilton bolstered its offensive line by taking Calgary lineman Darius Ciraco. The six-foot-four, 292-pound Burlington, Ont., native can play either tackle or guard.

Chapman was bypassed in last weekend’s NFL draft but accepted a rookie mini-camp invitation from the New York Giants. Despite being drafted by Hamilton, Chapman will attend the NFL event.

“We (Chapman and Ticats) both feel it would be a great experience for me,” he said. “As far as making any huge decisions, I haven’t made one yet.

“I’m just happy to be part of Hamilton’s organization. It’s a great run-and-gun offence. I think I fit well under June Jones.”

The B.C. Lions selected Rice offensive lineman Peter Godber at No. 3, a pick they obtained from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Wednesday. The six-foot-three, 300-pound Toronto native was sent home early from the CFL combine after not testing but six CFL clubs went to his pro day.

“I’m just adapting back to Canadian rules,” Godber said. “A yard of the ball is nothing guys won’t be able to adapt to.

“Just the timing of the punches and the defensive linemen instead of playing the American game. It will be an adjustment but I don’t look at it as a challenge at all. It’s something I’m going to work through well.”

The Ottawa Redblacks took Alberta’s Mark Korte at No. 4. The six-foot-three, 295-pound native of Spruce Grove, Alta., started at left tackle over his four-year tenure and last season was Canada West’s top offensive lineman.

Korte comes from a football family as both his father and brother played defensive end and linebacker, respectively, at Alberta.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders made the first surprising selection of the draft, taking UBC offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley at No. 5. The six-foot-five, 315-pound Windsor, Ont., native was projected as a first-overall selection before joining the NFL’s New York Jets as an undrafted free agent Saturday.

With its second first-round pick, B.C. selected Georgia State defensive lineman Julien Laurent. The six-foot-four, 294-pound Toronto native has the ability to contribute to the Lions very quickly.

The Stampeders didn’t look far for the eighth selection, taking Calgary offensive lineman Ryan Sceviour. The six-foot-three, 303-pound Calgary native has certainly been a durable performer, having started every game of his collegiate career.

The Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts concluded the opening round with a future pick, taking Bowling Green offensive lineman Ryan Hunter. The North Bay, Ont., native was regarded as the draft’s top lineman but Saturday agreed to terms with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent.

Neither Winnipeg nor the Edmonton Eskimos had first-round picks.

Edmonton opened the second round by selecting Laurier defensive back Godfrey Onyeka. The six-foot-two, 200-pound Brampton, Ont., native can play in the secondary or at linebacker while also contributing on special teams.

Two picks later, Winnipeg took former Calgary receiver Rashaun Simonise. The six-foot-five, 205-pound Vancouver native had 51 catches for 1,079 yards and 11 TDs in 2015 with the Dinos but was ruled academically ineligible for 2016.

He earned a 2016 tryout with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals but a positive drug test resulted in his CFL draft status being deferred from 2017 to this year.

Later in the second, Calgary became just the second Canadian school to have five players taken in the first 17 picks. Linebacker Micah Teitz went to Saskatchewan (14th overall) before defensive lineman Brett Wade was taken by Hamilton a pick later.

Laval had five players go in the first 17 picks in 2005.

In the third, B.C. selected Nebraska offensive lineman David Knevel. The six-foot-nine, 315-pound Brantford, Ont., native was projected as a blue-chip prospect but accepted a mini-camp invitation from the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

A total of 69 players were taken over eight rounds.

– CP