The 2019 CFL draft took place on Thursday night and here’s a quick look at every single player selected and a grade for each pick.
1 (1) Toronto Argonauts — OL Shane Richards, Oklahoma State
Measured in at six-foot-six and 334 pounds at the CFL national combine prior to backing out of testing and being sent home. Wasn’t a full-time starter in the NCAA and doesn’t have outstanding film.
Richards lied to teams in interviews about testing at the combine, which turned some scouts off. You can’t deny that Richards has an intriguing frame, but this is a deep draft. I don’t believe Richards is a top-five offensive line prospect or a top-20 talent. I don’t like this pick at all. F
1 (2) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — OL Jesse Gibbon, Waterloo
Gibbon is an intelligent player who excels in pass protection. Played left tackle at Waterloo, though he’ll step inside to play guard or centre in the CFL. Some scouts believe Gibbon is the best offensive lineman available in this year’s draft.
Gibbon, a native of Hamilton, models his game after long-time Tiger-Cat guard Peter Dyakowski. This is a great local pick and scouts feel that Gibbon will start in the CFL for ten years. This is a home run. A
1 (3) Edmonton Eskimos — DL Mathieu Betts, Laval
The top-ranked player in our 3DownNation rankings. Betts has arguably the quickest first-step of any Canadian pass rusher in the history of USports. He recorded 39.5 career sacks at Laval and is the first player in USports history to win the J. P. Metras Trophy three times.
His 6.56-second three-cone drill from last year’s East-West Bowl was better than any prospect — regardless of position — at any of this year’s CFL regional or national combines. Some scouts say Betts can be overpowered in the run game, which is true at times looking at his film. Fortunately for Betts, the CFL is a passing league.
The only knock on this pick is that Betts is currently under contract with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted NFL free agent. If the Esks get him by next season, this mark gets upgraded to an A. B
1 (4) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Drew Desjarlais, Windsor
Physical and nasty, Desjarlais is a classic mauler who uses power and leverage to open holes in the run game. Desjarlais surprised some scouts by finishing at or near the top of every testing event at this year’s CFL national combine.
He’ll need to improve his pass protection, but this native of Belle River is seen by many as a long-time CFL starter at guard or centre. A very good pick who fits what the Bombers do on offence — overpower teams in the run game. Smart and coachable. I love this pick. A
1 (5) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Jonathan Kongbo, Tennessee
Suffering a torn ACL in October of 2018, Kongbo was unable to participate in any pro days or combines this off-season. Scouts love his six-foot-six, 270-pound frame and his ability to contribute at either defensive end or three-technique.
I don’t see him as an elite CFL pass rusher, but Kongbo is stout against the run and should be able to play some special teams. Kongbo is expected to be healthy enough to play by the end of July. Considered by many scouts as an NFL-caliber talent. B
1 (6) Saskatchewan Roughriders — REC Justin McInnis, Arkansas State
McInnis has good speed (4.57) for his size (six-foot-four, 212 pounds) and produced an impressive 748 yards and five touchdowns on 61 receptions this past season. He’s smooth, jumps well, and doesn’t shy away from contact.
Not an elite route runner but he’s smart and has great hands. A converted quarterback who knows how to be coached. This year’s draft class is deep at the receiver position and McInnis might be the best one of them all. The only thing that holds this pick back is Saskatchewan’s need for an offensive lineman. B+
1 (7) Ottawa Redblacks — OL Alex Fontana, Kansas
Stocky interior blocker who spent time at the New Mexico Military Institute and University of Houston before starting with Kansas as a grad transfer. Tested well at his pro day in March and has solid film.
Will likely be limited to playing centre at the CFL level due his height (six-foot-one) and short arms. A bit of an odd fit in Ottawa with Alex Mateas and Mark Korte already in the fold at centre. That said, you can’t argue with adding a talented offensive lineman in the first round. B+
1 (8) Calgary Stampeders — REC Hergy Mayala, UConn
Possession receiver who will flourish if given the opportunity to play in the slot. Not an eye-popping athlete — he ran a 4.67 forty-yard dash at six-foot-one and 206 pounds at his pro day — but he led the Huskies in receptions the past two seasons for a reason.
He’s got great hands, runs good routes, and will benefit from the waggle. I love Mayala’s production at UConn but some scouts question whether or not he’s reached his physical ceiling. He might be the best receiver in the draft right now but some feel his ceiling isn’t as high as a player like Kaion Julien-Grant. B-
2 (9) Toronto Argonauts — DL Robbie Smith, Wilfrid Laurier
Drawing strong comparisons to former Golden Hawk teammate Kwaku Boateng, Smith is a tremendous athlete who recorded 18.5 sacks in 31 games at Laurier. Smith struggled at times during the one-on-ones at the CFL national combine, but scouts generally like his film.
Smith joins Jamaal Westerman, Shaquille Johnson, Rob Maver, Blair Smith, and Courtney Stephen (among others) as CFL players from Brampton, Ontario. Should contribute heavily on special teams as a rookie. B
2 (10) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — FB Nikola Kalinic, York
Kalinic played a lot of slotback at York but he projects as an H-back or tight end at the CFL level. He’s got a great frame (six-foot-four, 245 pounds) and runs relatively well for his size.
Scouts love his punt cover film. He’s violent, tenacious, and tough. Arguably the best special teams player in this year’s draft. His coaches and teammates call him “Big Serb” in reference to his Serbian heritage. I love this pick. A
2 (11) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — REC David Ungerer, Idaho
Late addition to the draft who started ten games for the Vandals last season, recording 69 receptions for 697 yards and four touchdowns. Quick and slippery. Doesn’t have ideal size (five-foot-nine, 181 pounds) but he provides some return experience.
Ungerer fits perfectly into June Jones’ run-and-shoot offence and some have called him the Canadian version of Weston Dressler. Ungerer’s father, Dave, coached with Jones at SMU. B-
2 (12) Edmonton Eskimos — OL Kyle Saxelid, UNLV
A six-foot-seven, 299-pound tackle prospect born and raised in Sacramento, California. Had never been to Canada prior to the CFL national combine in March. Three-year starter at left tackle at UNLV.
Some scouts feel he’ll struggle to play inside, so it’s possible the Eskimos see him as a tackle. A member of the NFL’s 2018 draft class, Saxelid tested well at the CFL national combine despite not training ahead of time. A huge fan of video games, Saxelid has a Legend of Zelda tattoo on his right wrist. B-
2 (13) Montreal Alouettes — REC Kaion Julien-Grant, St. FX
Recording more than 2,000 yards as both a receiver and returner during his tenure with the X-Men, Julien-Grant is one of the top playmakers in this year’s draft. Ran 4.49 at this year’s CFL national combine and looks that fast on film.
A finalist for the 2018 Hec Crighton trophy, Julien-Grant’s ceiling is sky-high. His agent is Johnathan Hardaway, so here’s hoping the Alouettes can get him under contract. B
2 (14) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — RB Brady Oliveira, North Dakota
Rushed for a staggering 2,532 yards over four seasons with the Fighting Hawks. Oliveira is thick (five-foot-ten, 228 pounds) and quick (6.90 three-cone, 4.17 shuttle) enough to compensate for less-than-ideal straight-line speed.
Oliveira should contribute heavily on special teams early in his career. Makes perfect ratio sense for a Blue Bomber team that starts a Canadian running back in Andrew Harris. Has the potential to become a starting running back in the CFL. B+
2 (15) Saskatchewan Roughriders — REC Brayden Lenius-Dickey, New Mexico
Lenius-Dickey has a tremendous frame (six-foot-five, 243 pounds) and possesses elite receiving skills. He can jump well and high-points the football at an elite level.
Lenius-Dickey played predominantly tight end in the NCAA but wants to play wideout in the CFL. Depending on his weight — which he’s talked about reducing — he could play wide receiver, slotback, H-back, fullback or tight end.
What hurts this grade is the Riders’ need at offensive line. The club doesn’t pick again until 35th overall and there may not be much depth remaining. C
2 (16) Montreal Alouettes — DL Nathan Anderson, Missouri
Originally starting his college career with two years at the New Mexico Military Institute, Anderson became one of the top JUCO transfers in the United States. He attended high school in Alabama, so it’s been a long time since he played a yard off the ball.
He didn’t test brilliantly at the CFL national combine but Anderson is a polished pass rusher who plays with tenacity and swagger. I’m not sure I see Anderson projecting as a starter at defensive end. I’d have liked to see the Alouettes address the offensive line here. C-
2 (17) Calgary Stampeders — DT Vincent Desjardins, Laval
A power-oriented pass rusher whose frame (six-foot-one, 261 pounds) allows him to rush from the interior or off the edge. Not an elite tester, but scouts love his film. Multiple people I spoke with felt he was one of the top risers at the combine.
A first-team All-Canadian in 2018 who has a high motor. A welcome addition in Calgary where Junior Turner recently turned 30. B-
2 (18) Toronto Argonauts — DB Matthew Boateng, Fresno State
Boateng ran a blazing 4.38 forty-yard dash at his pro day, which generated a buzz heading into the CFL national combine. There’s not a lot of film on Boateng from his college days and he’s undersized for safety or special teams at 170 pounds.
I like Boateng’s physicals but this pick appears to have been made on testing results alone. D
2 (19) Montreal Alouettes — OL Samuel Thomassin, Laval
Stout, strong, and thick, Thomassin is a well-coached and well-conditioned from his time with the Rouge et Or. Thomassin would have been a first-round pick five years ago, but some scouts are hesitant to take offensive linemen out of Laval following the early retirements of Karl Lavoie and Pierre Lavertu.
Lacks optimal lateral quickness for an interior blocker but Thomassin should be ready to contribute soon for the Alouettes, which is a plus for a club that’s a little thin at guard. B-
3 (20) Toronto Argonauts — QB Michael O’Connor, UBC
The most polished Canadian quarterback prospect in recent memory. O’Connor has a pro-ready frame (six-foot-five, 228 pounds) and an arm capable of handling a professional workload. Originally starting his collegiate career at Penn State, O’Connor transferred to UBC after Bill O’Brien left the school to become the head coach of the Houston Texans.
Tossed for 3,131 yards, 17 touchdowns, and five interceptions in nine games this past season. A legitimate prospect who could develop into a starting CFL quarterback. Has added value when/if the CFL counts quarterbacks towards the ratio. B+
3 (21) Montreal Alouettes — OL Zach Wilkinson, Northern Colorado
A smooth blocker with three seasons of starting experience with the Bears. Weighing just 255 pounds as a freshman, Wilkinson has gradually built his frame to 296 pounds with room for further development. Projects as a CFL centre or guard.
It’s not often that a team can get a first-round talent without an NFL contract in the third round — particularly at a position of need. This pick is a slam dunk. A+
3 (22) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — RB Maleek Irons, Ohio
Irons was the consensus number-one running back prospect in this year’s draft class. Scouts love his NCAA pedigree, athleticism, and explosiveness. Recorded 831 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 126 carries this past season.
The Ticats didn’t appear to care when Mercer Timmis and Sean Thomas-Erlington recorded 100-yard games in 2018, continuing to start American running backs. Here’s hoping Irons gets the chance to start someday — he’s excellent. A
3 (23) Toronto Argonauts — REC Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Wilfrid Laurier
Produced the most collegiate yardage of any receiver in this year’s draft class with 2,656 receiving yards in 31 games at Laurier. He didn’t run great (4.62) for his frame (five-foot-eleven, 191 pounds) at the CFL national combine, but his return ability should help him make an impact as a rookie. Playmaker. B
3 (24) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Sheriden Lawley, UBC
Unable to compete in this year’s CFL national combine due to a torn pectoral muscle, Lawley is seen by some scouts as a lottery ticket. He’s got great size at six-foot-five, 270 pounds and has experience playing along both the offensive and defensive lines. Spent three years at UConn before transferring to UBC. A project player in the trenches. B-
3 (25) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Connor Griffiths, UBC
Griffiths is a classic Canadian nose tackle — stout, thick, and physical. He’s not an elite pass rusher but Griffiths will hold his own against the run. One scout describes him as a “bull.” Put up an impressive 28 reps on the bench press. Fills an area of need for the Bombers. B+
3 (26) B.C. Lions — LB Noah Robinson, Missouri
Has great size at six-foot-three and 232 pounds but didn’t test as well as some expected at the combine. Was never a full-time starter at Memphis (where he started his college career) or Missouri, recording 52 tackles in 24 games. Some teams were concerned about the DUI he had in September. C+
3 (27) Ottawa Redblacks — RB Gabriel Polan, Sherbrooke
Polan is a classic RSEQ fullback prospect who can run, catch, block, and play special teams. He joins the legion of former Vert et Or fullbacks who play in the CFL that already includes William Langlais (Calgary), J.C. Beaulieu (Ottawa), and Anthony Gosselin (Ottawa). B+
3 (28) Calgary Stampeders — OL Zack Williams, Manitoba
Athletic big man with a solid frame (six-foot-five, 318 pounds) and above average athleticism. Played a lot of guard with the Bisons but some teams see him as a CFL tackle. Added weight during the 2018 hoping for a shot at the NFL. B
4 (29) Toronto Argonauts — OL Maurice Simba, Concordia
The biggest player in this year’s draft at six-foot-eight and 343 pounds. A two-time All-Canadian who became the first Canadian to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this past January. Doesn’t move well enough to excel at the CFL level — has to shed weight. D
4 (30) Montreal Alouettes — REC Chris Osei-Kusi, Queen’s
Osei-Kusi owned the testing at this year’s CFL national combine, running a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps on the bench press. Put up solid production with 1,862 receiving yards on 126 receptions in 28 career USports games and brings intangibles. B+
4 (31) Calgary Stampeders — LB Fraser Sopik, Western
Undersized at five-foot-eleven and 198 pounds, Sopik may be too small to play linebacker in the CFL. He was a tackling maching at Western putting up 107.5 tackles in 28 career games and scouts love his leadership capabilities. Will likely be one of the top special teams players to come out of this draft. B
4 (32) Edmonton Eskimos — FB Peter Cender, Grand Valley State
Big-bodied fullback at six-foot-four and 250 pounds. Not going to contribute heavily on offence, but a stout blocker who will play well on special teams. His stock rises due in part as a result of a poor linebacker class. B-
4 (33) B.C. Lions — DB Hakeem Johnson, Western
Advanced to this year’s CFL national combine through the Ontario regional. Tested well and looked decent in the one-on-ones. Projects as a depth safety/field-side cornerback and special teams player at the CFL level. The younger brother of B.C. Lions’ receiver Shaquille Johnson. B-
4 (34) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Tavita Eli, Hawaii
A one-time NFL prospect who tore his ACL in 2018 and told CFL teams he was done with football a year ago. If he has changed his mind this becomes the sleeper pick of the draft. Not a bad spot to take a long-shot on a tremendously talented player. B
4 (35) Saskatchewan Roughriders — LB Jacob Janke, York
Converted receiver who recorded 59 tackles in nine games with the Lions in 2018. Looked shaky in the one-on-ones at the CFL national combine, but tested fairly well. Projects as a CFL safety and special teams player. B-
4 (36) Ottawa Redblacks — OL Thomas Grant, Acadia
A big-bodied (six-foot-six, 290 pounds) gap-plugger who recorded seven sacks in 27 games with the Axemen. Didn’t have a great showing in the one-on-ones at the combine and, like most AUS prospects, scouts question the level of his competition on film. A candidate to be converted to offensive line. C+
4 (37) Calgary Stampeders — OL Jaylan Guthrie, Guelph
A “red flag” prospect who didn’t return to Guelph for the 2018 season after leaving the team due to a positional dispute. Moves well for his size (six-foot-four, 304 pounds) and could play tackle or guard at the CFL level. More talented than his draft position but his backstory is a concern. B+
5 (38) Toronto Argonauts — DB Jamie Harry, Ottawa
Didn’t perform well at the CFL national combine, running a 4.79 forty-yard dash and failing to record a single rep on the bench. That said, Harry has eleven interceptions over the past two seasons with the Gee-Gees and many scouts loved his film. He just needs to hit the gym. B+
5 (39) Montreal Alouettes — DL Michael Sanelli, Concordia
One of the most pleasant surprises at this year’s CFL national combine. Sanelli tested well at the event and looked strong in the one-on-ones, holding his own against some of the draft’s top offensive linemen. Sanelli is down to 281 pounds from 311 at the 2018 East-West Bowl, helping his mobility and quickness off the line. Coaches love his intangibles. A
5 (40) Edmonton Eskimos — REC Shai Ross, Manitoba
Performed brilliantly at the CFL national combine in the broad jump and three-cone drill but sometimes struggles to get open. Will need to develop his route running and his catching ability to make an impact at the professional level. C
5 (41) Edmonton Eskimos — DL Evan Machibroda, Saskatchewan
Machibroda has informed teams that he intends to return to school in 2019 for his final season of USports eligibilty, which lowered his stock. It also didn’t help that he was hurt at the CFL national combine. A first-team All-Canadian in 2018 who’s slippery as an interior rusher. Worth the one-year wait. A-
5 (42) B.C. Lions — OL Jonathan Harke, Alberta
At five-foot-eleven and 295 pounds, Harke is essentially a walking fire hydrant. That said, he’s an underrated prospect who many considered a top sleeper in this year’s draft. Comes from the same Golden Bears program that turned out Mark Korte and Justin Lawrence a season ago. Will play centre at the CFL level. A
5 (43) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Malik Richards, Mount Allison
Generated consistent production at Mount Allison with 1,387 yards on 104 receptions in 24 games. Has an average frame at five-foot-eleven and 189 pounds and tested moderately at the CFL national combine. Doesn’t have return experience. C
5 (44) Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Charbel Dabire, Wagner
An under-the-radar prospect who turned down an invitation to this year’s Ontario regional combine. Attended a local pro day with the New York Giants in April and served as a one of the Seahawks’ captains during his senior season. Vertical rusher who dents the pocket. B
5 (45) Ottawa Redblacks — REC Wesley Lewis, Houston Baptist
Has a massive frame at six-foot-six and 225 pounds. Jumps well and knows how to high-point the football. A raw project who needs polish at the pro level. Not sure Lewis is the impact Canadian receiver the Redblacks needed to get from this year’s deep receiver class. C+
5 (46) Calgary Stampeders — DB Malcolm Lee, UBC
Six-foot-two cover cornerback who is facing a one-year suspension from the CFL following a positive drug test. A second/third-round talent who excels in man coverage. Ran a 4.66 forty-yard dash at the CFL national combine, which was slower than some anticipated. The younger brother of 2009 first-round pick Jamall Lee. B+
6 (47) Toronto Argonauts — LS Joe Spaziani, Virginia
The best long snapper in the draft. Can’t argue with that, though the sixth round seems a little high. C+
6 (48) Montreal Alouettes — RB Jeshrun Antwi, Calgary
Advanced to this year’s CFL national combine through the western regional. Recorded 476 rushing yards on 65 carries this past season in a pass-first Calgary offence. Projects as a CFL special teams player. B-
6 (49) B.C. Lions — DL Charles Nwoye, UBC
Six-foot-three, 251-pound defensive end who recently played in the CJFL. Projects as a special teams player with solid athleticism for his size. B-
6 (50) Edmonton Eskimos — DB Scott Hutter, Wilfrid Laurier
Hutter reminds me a little of Mike Daly — physical beyond his frame and faster than he tests. Should make an impact on special teams. B-
6 (51) B.C. Lions — FB Mario Villamizar, Wilfrid Laurier
Not a flashy player offensively, but Villamizar should enjoy a long CFL career based on his blocking ability and special teams prowess. He’s thick, tough, mean, and nasty. One of the top special teams players in this year’s draft class. A
6 (52) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Tariq LaChance, Manitoba
A 25-year-old who hasn’t played competitive football since he was a member of the Bisons in 2016. Tested respectably for his frame (six-foot-three, 256 pounds) at the CFL national combine and looked decent in the one-on-ones. Will look to make a roster based on his ability to contribute on special teams. B-
6 (53) Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Vincent Roy, Sherbrooke
Big man (six-foot-five, 306 pounds) who plays a physical game at guard. Transitioned from defensive line to offensive line for the 2018 season, making him a project player. Could potentially move in to play centre in the CFL. Has one year of USports eligibility remaining. B
6 (54) Ottawa Redblacks — DL Chris Larsen, Manitoba
Another defensive end who will look to make an impact on special teams due in part to the weakness of this year’s linebacking class. Had one sack last season. C+
6 (55) Calgary Stampeders — DB Nick Statz, Calgary
Was a one-half of a two-headed monster in the Dinos’ defence alongside twin brother Aaron. Scouts say he sees the game well. Plays a lot bigger than his five-foot-ten, 180-pound frame. B-
7 (56) Toronto Argonauts — REC Phil Iloki, Carleton
Recorded 560 yards this past season as a five-foot-eleven, 198-pound target. Depth addition in the receiving corps. C+
7 (57) Montreal Alouettes — LB Ben Whiting, Saskatchewan
Not an elite tester but a solid five-year player with the Huskies. “Glue” guy. Projects as a special teams contributor. B-
7 (58) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Derek Dufault, Manitoba
Dufault is a classic USports defensive end. He doesn’t have elite quickness, but he’s strong off the line and holds his own in the run game. Should be able to play special teams at the CFL level. Plays with a high motor. B+
7 (59) Edmonton Eskimos — REC Hunter Karl, Calgary
Produced well in the Dinos’ pass-heavy attack, recording 2,286 yards in 27 career games with 937 yards and six touchdowns coming in 2018 alone. A dual-sport athlete between football and basketball. A potential sleeper. A-
7 (60) B.C. Lions — DL Brad Lyons, SFU
Thick defensive end who tested moderately at the western regional combine. Recorded three sacks this past season. B
7 (61) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DB Nick Hallett, Toronto
Five-foot-ten, 194-pound with solid athleticism. Should contribute on special teams. B-
7 (62) Toronto Argonauts — OL Eric Starczala, Guelph
Dropped 30 pounds after the 2018 East-West Bowl to improve his quickness. Played tackle with the Gryphons but will look to play guard at the CFL level. Needs to work on his flexibility. Might be the best offensive lineman the Argonauts drafted today. B+
7 (63) Ottawa Redblacks — DL Simon Abbott, Manitoba
Spent a year with the CJFL’s Winnipeg Rifles in 2017 between stints with the Alberta Golden Bears and Bisons. Recorded 1.5 sacks this past season. C
7 (64) Calgary Stampeders — LB Job Reinhart, Guelph
Stout linebacker who could afford to shed some weight at the professional level. A tackling machine with the Gryphons. B+
8 (65) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Malcolm Campbell, Toronto
Slight defensive end (six-foot-two, 225 pounds) who will get a look on special teams. B+
8 (66) Montreal Alouettes — DB Cody Cranston, Ottawa
Depth defensive back who may be too slight to get a look at safety. C+
8 (67) Hamilton Tiger-Cats — LB Gordon Whyte, St. FX
Another class USports linebacker who can tackle but not move very well. Will compete for a spot on special teams. B-
8 (68) Edmonton Eskimos — DB Eric Blake, McMaster
Tall defensive back who will look to make an impact on special teams. B-
8 (69) B.C. Lions — RB Jamel Lyles, Manitoba
A native of Surrey, B.C. who broke all of Andrew Harris’ records with the Westshore Rebels of the CJFL. Brings versatility as a returner and receiver out of the backfield. A
8 (70) Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DB Kerfalla-Emmanuel Exume, Montreal
Advanced to the CFL national combine through the eastern regional combine. Tests respectably, though he lacks straight-line speed. Projects as a CFL special teams player. B
8 (71) Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Christopher Judge, Cal Poly
The older brother of 2017 first-round pick Cameron Judge. Already 28 years of age. C
8 (72) Ottawa Redblacks — DL Clement Lebreaux, Laval
Thick nose tackle who could afford to shed weight at the professional level. B-
8 (73) Calgary Stampeders — REC Colton Hunchak, York
One of my favorite receivers in this year’s draft class despite his lack of size. He runs crisp routes, has great hands, and makes people miss after the catch. There’s a reason he averaged eight receptions per game this past season. A