Ticats get their man at No. 1, shore up offensive line after Bomben trade

A day after completing a blockbuster trade that sent an all-star offensive lineman to the Montreal Alouettes, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats used a pick they obtained in the deal to select receiver Mark Chapman first overall in Thursday’s CFL Draft.

Chapman played his college football at Central Michigan and finished his four-year career with 147 receptions for 2,035 yards and 10 touchdowns. He wowed scouts with an excellent performance at the CFL Combine in March, dominating the one-on-one competition and he was considered one of the most polished, pro-ready players available.

“I know it sounds cliche man but it’s surreal. I had my family there with me, getting that call from coach Jones, it was a dream come true for me,” said Chapman. “I never expected that I’d be playing pro ball growing up so hearing my name get called on that type of stage is amazing.

The pick came a day after the Ticats dealt Canadian guard Ryan Bomben to the Alouettes and the second overall pick in exchange for, essentially, the first overall pick and a second-round pick in 2019. To make up for the loss of the veteran offensive lineman, Hamilton used their second pick in the first round to take offensive lineman Darius Ciraco at No. 6 overall.

The 22-year-old Ciraco played 28 regular season games over four seasons at the University of Calgary over four seasons. A Burlington native, the 6-foot, 292 pounder played centre, guard and tackle for the Dinos.

While CFL rookies often take time to develop, Chapman and Ciraco may be pressed into service as soon as this season, particularly after dealing Bomben. Barring a change in philosophy, team will need a Canadian offensive lineman to replace Bomben and may also need to start two national receivers in order to get to the CFL-mandated quota of seven Canadian starters.

Ticat head coach June Jones said he was pleased with the way the first round played out.

“Chapman plays faster than his 40 time, he’s really quick, very smart and I think he can help us right away. It gives us a lot of versatility in the ratio and I’m excited about him,” Jones said. “We got both players that we wanted so we’re very happy with it.”

Born in Port Huron, Mich., Chapman is considered a national player in the CFL because he has dual citizenship courtesy of his mother, a native of Sarnia, Ont. He also has an invite to the New York Giants mini-camp.

The Ticats also had two picks in the second round and selected University of Ottawa defensive back Jackson Bennett at No. 11 and University of Calgary defensive tackle Brett Wade at No. 15.

Hamilton plays a Canadian at safety but Courtney Stephen is entering the final season of his contract and Bennett should be able to make an immediate impact on special teams. The 5-foot-11, 212-pounder played multiple positions – safety, corner, halfback and linebacker – while also returning kicks for the Gee-Gees during his career at Ottawa.

Wade is somewhat undersized at 6-feet, 270 pounds but had a strong CFL Combine, particularly in the one-on-ones. The Ticats have selected a University of Calgary player in each of the last three drafts as Wade joins defensive end Connor McGough and running back Mercer Timmis in Hamilton.

The Ticats selected UBC receiver Marcus Davis with fourth-round round pick, an undersized player with excellent speed – a Jones pre-requisite – who has struggled with injury issues (he’s also the younger brother of current Ticat linebacker Terrell Davis.) They grabbed Simon Fraser receiver Justin Buren in round five. With their sixth round selection, Hamilton took Queen’s linebacker Michael Moore then grabbed another University of Calgary defensive lineman with their first of two eighth-round picks in Joel Van Pelt. Finally, they took University of Guelph DB Nicholas Parisotto with their final pick, No. 66 overall.