John Hodge’s 2019 CFL mock draft 2.0

The CFL combine has come and gone, providing teams with the opportunity to see this year’s draft-eligible talent up close.

I’ve already taken a look at how May’s draft might go down in mock draft 1.0, but the combine and pro days have shaken things up. It’s time for an update — and this one is going for five rounds.

Round One

1. Toronto Argonauts — OL Zach Wilkinson, Northern Colorado

Wilkinson was a three-year starter with the Bears who is physical, smooth, and smart. Though he played in a number of spots in college, Wilkinson best projects as a CFL guard.

The Argos are fast-aging along the offensive line with starters Chris Van Zeyl, Tyler Holmes, and Ryan Bomben all over the age of 30. Wilkinson would inject some much-needed youth into that group while also providing cap relief when he’s ready to start.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — REC Brayden Lenius-Dickey, New Mexico

The Ticats use their top pick on an NCAA receiver for the second consecutive year. Hopefully they don’t botch the contract negotiations with this one, too.

Lenius-Dickey has an impressive frame at 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds. He can play wideout, slotback, fullback, H-back, tight end, and will be a beast on special teams. Teams are salivating over the opportunity to draft this NCAA product, driving up his stock all the way to second overall.

3. Edmonton Eskimos — DL Mathieu Betts, Laval

The Eskimos are currently without a solid back-up for national edge rusher Kwaku Boateng. Enter Mathieu Betts, arguably the most talented player available in this year’s draft.

Already garnering NFL interest, Betts isn’t a lock to play in the CFL in 2019. That said, he’s one of the best Canadian pass rushing prospects to come around in a long time. He’d look great in green and gold.

4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Drew Desjarlais, Windsor

The Bombers lost grit and athleticism when Sukh Chungh left for B.C. in free agency. Chungh was more polished coming out of Calgary four years ago than Desjarlais is now but the nastiness and athleticism is there.

Desjarlais is a physical run blocker with a power-oriented game, making him a perfect fit in Winnipeg. With time the Lancer standout should develop the pass protection side of his game to become a well-rounded guard.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Connor Griffiths, UBC

Griffiths wreaked havoc in Canada West this past year, using his leverage and power to toss offensive linemen in run and pass situations. The UBC product is disruptive and plays with a mean streak that Winnipeg will covet.

The Bombers have talked about starting a national defensive tackle this season, recently signing Maxx Forde to compliment veteran Jake Thomas. Griffiths would be a great rotational addition to that group.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders — REC Justin McInnis, Arkansas State

The Riders are thin at Canadian receiver — particularly with Jake Harty still recovering from a torn ACL. You can’t teach size and McInnis, a 6-foot-5 pass catcher, has that in spades.

Provided he signs right away, it shouldn’t be long before this Arkansas State product is ready to enter a CFL starting line-up. McInnis will draw comparisons to Devon Bailey, but the Quebec native produced more against higher competition in the Sun Belt Conference. This would be a nice pick.

7. Ottawa Redblacks — OL Jesse Gibbon, Waterloo

The Redblacks grab a smooth offensive lineman in the first round of every draft, so this pick fits like a glove. Gibbon spent the 2018 season protecting Tre Ford’s blindside but should slot in at guard in the CFL.

Gibbon is an underrated athlete who interviewed well at the combine. It shouldn’t be long before the Hamilton native is ready to enter the starting line-up.

8. Calgary Stampeders — REC Hergy Mayala, UConn

Mayala led the Huskies in receptions in each of the past two seasons and is considered by some to be the top route runner in this year’s draft class.

Mayala’s not a burner — he ran a mid-4.60 at his recent pro day — but he could be very productive in the slot. Consider the Montreal native a seamless replacement for Lemar Durant.

Round Two

9. Toronto Argonauts — REC Kaion Julien-Grant, St. FX

A big-bodied play-maker whose 4.49-second forty-yard dash has caught the attention of NFL scouts. Julien-Grant could make an impact as a rookie at both receiver and in the return game.

10. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Montreal Alouettes) — OL Shane Richards, Oklahoma State

Richards turned some teams off by refusing to participate in this year’s combine testing, but it’s hard to argue with his 6-foot-6, 334-pound frame. Provided they could get him under contract, this would be a solid pick for the Ticats.

11. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Nate Anderson, Missouri

Anderson didn’t test brilliantly at the combine, but scouts love his film from the SEC. A nice positional fit with Jamaal Westerman, Justin Capicciotti, and Connor McGough already in the fold in Steeltown.

12. Edmonton Eskimos — DB Malcolm Lee, UBC

Lee ran a disappointing 4.66-second forty-yard dash in Toronto, but he’ll look to improve upon that number at his upcoming pro day. The UBC product would make a nice compliment for starting national field-side corner Arjen Colquhoun.

13. Montreal Alouettes (via. B.C. Lions) — OL Kyle Saxelid, UNLV

Saxelid has proven he’s a strong athlete, especially for someone who is 6-foot-7 and 299 pounds. The three-year starter at UNLV is a true tackle, making him a nice depth piece for Montreal to pair with Tyler Johnstone.

14. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Robbie Smith, Laurier

The 6-foot-2, 242-pounder tested well at the combine and put forward a solid showing in the one-on-ones. Would make a nice addition to the Bombers on both special teams and as a rotational pass rusher.

15. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Alex Fontana, Kansas

The 6-foot-1, 298-pound Fontana becomes the centre of the future in Riderville. The Toronto native looked good at his pro day and has all the tools to become a solid CFL centre.

16. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Vincent Desjardins, Laval

Desjardins did himself a lot of favors at this year’s combine, testing well and putting forth a strong showing in the one-on-ones. The 6-foot-1, 260-pound lineman is capable of taking reps at both defensive end and defensive tackle.

17. Calgary Stampeders — DL Jonathan Kongbo, Tennessee

Kongbo is recovering from a torn ACL and garnering NFL interest, making this a potential futures pick. The Tennessee product is an elite athlete with a remarkable wingspan at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds.

Round Three

18. Toronto Argonauts — DB Hakeem Johnson, Western

The Argos draft one of the top risers from this year’s combine in Hakeem Johnson, the younger brother of B.C. Lions receiver Shaquille Johnson. The Western product runs well, has a decent frame, and looks comfortable in man coverage.

19. Montreal Alouettes — REC Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Wilfrid Laurier

The two-time USports All-Canadian put up staggering numbers at Laurier — 200 receptions for 2,656 yards and four return touchdowns in 31 games. Gittens Jr. could be a day-one start in La Belle Province.

20. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — FB Nikola Kalinic, York

No mock draft is complete without a fullback and Kalinic is the best one in this year’s class. He can block, run, catch, and dominate on special teams. Kalinic did himself a favor by dropping some weight for the combine, helping him run a 4.99-second forty-yard dash.

21. Toronto Argonauts (via Edmonton Eskimos) — DL Michael Sanelli, Concordia

Sanelli showed up to the combine 30 pounds lighter than he did at the East-West Bowl, leading to strong testing numbers and a nice showing in the one-on-ones. One of my top risers from the weekend.

22. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via B.C. Lions) — RB Maleek Irons, Ohio

Irons is the best player on the board for a team with no immediate positional needs. The Chilliwack native recorded more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 28 games with the Bobcats.

23. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Chris Osei-Kusi, Queen’s

Owned the combine testing with an impressive 19 reps on the bench press and a 4.47-second forty-yard dash. Could easily sneak into the second round.

24. B.C. Lions (via Montreal Alouettes & Saskatchewan Roughriders) — RB Brady Oliveira, North Dakota

Oliveira could have NFL options but he’s a great athlete who will contribute on special teams early in his career. May develop into a rare every-down Canadian running back.

25. Ottawa Redblacks — LB Fraser Sopik, Western

A dominant USports linebacker who will likely play safety in the CFL. One of the top special teams players available in this year’s draft.

26. Calgary Stampeders — OL Samuel Thomassin, Laval

A polished offensive lineman who could easily be selected higher than the late third round. Thick and strong but lacks lateral quickness.

Round Four

27. Toronto Argonauts — DB Stavros Katsantonis, UBC

An underrated athlete who projects as a CFL safety. Katsantonis, like many draft-eligible special teams contributors, benefits from a weak linebacker class.

28. Montreal Alouettes — DB Matthew Boateng, Fresno State

Undersized cornerback who ran a lightning-fast 4.38-second forty-yard dash at his pro day. Film is limited, which has some scouts concerned.

29. Calgary Stampeders — REC Alexandre Savard, Laval

An athletic freak who will probably be in the NFL next year, making this Calgary’s second futures pick.

30. Edmonton Eskimos — OL Zack Williams, Manitoba

Stout lineman who tested respectably at the combine despite adding weight for a possible NFL opportunity.

31. B.C. Lions — OL Jaylan Guthrie, Guelph

Talent-wise, Guthrie should go high than the mid-fourth round. There are questions, however, about the circumstances surrounding Guthrie’s departure from Guelph.

32. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Evan Machibroda, Saskatchewan

Machibroda is going back to school this season, but the Engineering student might be the best defensive tackle prospect in the draft. A good futures pick for Winnipeg.

33. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Thomas Grant, Acadia

An underrated big man who will test well for his size at the national combine. Would provide the Riders with depth behind big man Zack Evans.

34. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Derek Dufault, Manitoba

An underrated prospect who tested respectably at the western regional combine. Scouts like his film against the pass and the run.

35. Calgary Stampeders — QB Michael O’Connor, UBC

The most polished Canadian quarterback prospect in years goes to the same team that drafted Brad Sinopoli and Andrew Buckley.

Round Five

36. Toronto Argonauts — RB Jamel Lyles, Manitoba

A versatile athlete who can contribute as a ball carrier, receiver, and return man. Reminds some scouts of former Bison (and currently Argonaut) Anthony Coombs.

37. Montreal Alouettes — OL Jonathan Harke, Alberta

A stout, undersized offensive lineman who put up 32 reps on the bench at this year’s combine. Could be Montreal’s centre of the future.

38. Edmonton Eskimos — FB Mario Villamizar, Laurier

A physical blocker who can contribute on special teams and a little on offence. Tough as nails.

39. Edmonton Eskimos — REC Colton Hunchak, York

A smooth route runner with a solid pair of hands. Won’t blow you away with his frame (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) or his speed (4.69), but produced almost 2,000 receiving yards with the Lions for a reason.

40. B.C. Lions — DL Sheriden Lawley, UBC

An athletic big man who played both offensive and defensive line with the Thunderbirds after three years at UConn. Missed the combine due to injury.

41. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — FB Gabriel Polan, Sherbrooke

Classic RSEQ fullback who can run, catch, hit, tackle, and block. A versatile piece for a team that could use an extra play-maker in the backfield.

42. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Tariq LaChance, Manitoba

Decent tester who will be able to contribute as a pass rusher and special teamer. Looked pretty good in the combine’s one-on-ones.

43. Ottawa Redblacks — OL Maurice Simba, Concordia

Massive offensive lineman (6-foot-7, 343 pounds) who will need to improve his conditioning at the pro level.

44. Calgary Stampeders — LB Philippe Dion, Western

Slightly undersized linebacker (5-foot-11, 213 pounds) who will contribute on special teams.

The best of the rest

These players weren’t listed above but could easily be considered for my mock draft 3.0 depending on how the coming weeks play out. They are listed alphabetically by position.

QB Chris Merchant, Western; RB Jeshrun Antwi, Calgary; REC Kalem Beaver, Ottawa; REC Zeph Fraser, Guelph; REC Hunter Karl, Calgary; REC Malik Richards, Mount Allison; OL Daniel Omara, Carleton; OL Vincent Roy, Sherbrooke; OL Eric Starczala, Guelph; DL Charbel Dabire, Wagner; DL Kyle Wilson, SFU; LB Jacob Janke, York; LB Noah Robinson, Missouri; LB Gordon Whyte, St. FX; DB Shamar Busby, SE Louisiana; DB Jacob Dearborn, Carleton; DB Jamie Harry, Ottawa.

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