John Hodge’s 2020 CFL mock draft 2.0

Photo courtesy: East Carolina Athletics

The 2020 CFL draft is officially one week away, which means it’s time to take another look at how the event could play out.

Even without combines and pro days, the landscape has changed enough that many players have risen or fallen since my first mock draft from mid-March.

Round One

1. Calgary Stampeders (via Ottawa) — LB Jordan Williams, East Carolina

The native of Fayetteville, North Carolina was a three-year starter with the Pirates who recorded 252 total tackles in 45 games. He also lit up the Ontario regional combine in March with a 4.48 forty-yard dash, 39-inch vertical jump, and 20 reps on the bench press.

The five-foot-eleven, 218-pound linebacker is undersized for the NFL, but a perfect fit in the wide open Canadian game. Calgary started Cory Greenwood at middle linebacker 12 times last season and Williams could help maintain the ratio by taking over the starting spot.

It’s rare that a team has the opportunity to select a player of Williams’ calibre without the risk of him signing in the NFL. As such, Williams would be the perfect choice for Calgary first overall in next week’s draft.

2. Toronto Argonauts — OL Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Buffalo

Jack-Kurdyla was a four-year starter at guard for the Bulls who performed well at his pro day. The six-foot-three, 300-pounder is an athletic, power-oriented blocker who is accustomed to playing in a relatively run-heavy offence.

Unlike many NCAA offensive line prospects, Jack-Kurdyla doesn’t need to shed weight to play in the CFL and is considered one of the draft’s most pro-ready blockers. The Argos need help revamping the interior of their offensive line and this native of Montreal is the perfect fit.

3. B.C. Lions — OL Carter O’Donnell, Alberta

The six-foot-five, 305-pound blocker has garnered enough interest to sign in the NFL, but B.C.’s general manager Ed Hervey has a history of selecting ‘futures’ (Tevaun Smith, Arjen Colquhou, Stefan Charles). It’s no secret that the Lions have to get better along the offensive line and O’Donnell is the best blocker in the draft.

The Red Deer native is athletic, violent, and a sound technician. He could probably hold his own at tackle in the CFL, though he would be dominant at guard. Some scouts consider O’Donnell the best U Sports offensive line prospect of the last three to five years, ranking him above players like Sean McEwen, Sukh Chungh, Geoff Gray, Dakoda Shepley, Mark Korte, and Drew Desjarlais. That’s high praise.

Photo courtesy: Russell Hons, UND Athletics

4. Edmonton Eskimos — DL Mason Bennett, North Dakota

Bennett has a pro-ready frame at six-foot-four, 255 pounds and should contribute early in his career as a rotational defensive end and special teamer. The Winnipeg native recorded 128 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, and one forced fumble in 43 games with the Fighting Hawks.

Edmonton could look to start two Canadian defensive ends this season following the off-season departure of Americans Nick Usher (Las Vegas) and Alex Bazzie (Toronto). Bennett would make the perfect rotational compliment for incumbent national pass rushers Kwaku Boateng and Mathieu Betts.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Montreal) — DL Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund, Southeastern Louisiana

Adeyemi-Berglund is a rare prospect in that he was impactful as a starter and on special teams in college. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native spent the past two seasons terrorizing quarterbacks while also playing upback on punt team, adjusting formations and calling fakes.

The six-foot-two, 243-pound defensive end recorded 16 sacks over his junior and senior seasons, three of which came against Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of LSU. Hamilton would benefit from Adeyemi-Berglund’s versatility, providing depth on defence and special teams.

6. Ottawa Redblacks (via Calgary) — DB Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Montreal

Marcel Desjardins has used his top pick on an offensive lineman in almost every draft since Ottawa’s first in 2013. The lone exception was in 2014 when the Redblacks traded the first overall pick to Calgary and selected defensive back Antoine Pruneau fourth overall.

History has a tendency of repeating itself, which is why I believe Dequoy will be heading to the nation’s capital. The six-foot-three, 198-pound defender — who recently ran a brilliant 40-yard dash — is a difference-maker in the secondary who will be a CFL special teams demon from day-one.

7. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Michael Hoecht, Brown

The six-foot-three, 290-pound defender is a load along the line, capable of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. Hoecht is arguably the most impactful defensive lineman in the draft, including interior players and edge rushers.

Though he’ll likely be signing in the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Hoecht would be the perfect heir apparent for Zack Evans. The Riders may covet a linebacker with this pick, but Hoecht is simply too talented to pass up.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — K/P Marc Liegghio, Western

Drafting a kicker in the first round? Believe it or not, the Tiger-Cats could do it next week. Lirim Hajrullahu has found a home with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, which leaves Hamilton — a team otherwise flush with national talent — thin at the kicker position.

Liegghio is capable of performing all three specialist roles — placekicking, punting, and kicking off — and holds the U Sports record for most all-time field goals kicked. The fact that he’s from nearby Woodbridge, Ont. is another an added bonus.

9. Toronto Argonauts (via Winnipeg) — REC Dejon Brissett, Virginia

The six-foot-one, 200-pound target has little production over the past two seasons, but a strong argument could still be made that he’s the best receiver in the draft. Brissett brings speed and route-running skills along with return experience from his four-year tenure at Richmond.

The Argos could look to start three national receivers in 2020 should the signing of NFL veteran T.J. Jones become finalized. Brissett would provide additional depth to help make that possible while also bringing some local flavour.

Round Two

10. Ottawa Redblacks — QB Nathan Rourke, Ohio

The two-time Jon Cornish Trophy winner is a dual-threat pivot with the perfect skill set for the Canadian game. He may get a look in the NFL, but many expect Rourke to eventually end up north of the border. There’s no better fit for him than Ottawa where Paul LaPolice is looking to develop a young quarterback.

11. Toronto Argonauts — LB Jack Cassar, Carleton

Cassar has elite size and is a potential future starter at middle linebacker. The six-foot-four, 240-pound tackler posted elite production with the Ravens with 157 total tackles, eight sacks, and one interception in 31 games.

12. B.C. Lions — REC Rysen John, Simon Fraser

This local product is coming off a dominant season with the Clan, recording 861 yards and ten touchdowns on 53 receptions. The Lions had success developing Jevon Cottoy in 2019 and John would make for the perfect compliment as another big-bodied pass catcher.

13. Edmonton Eskimos — OL Chris Gangarossa, Wagner

Gangarossa has experience playing all across the offensive line with the Seahawks, starting games at guard, right tackle, and left tackle. The Eskimos love the versatility of Matt O’Donnell and 2019 second-round pick Kyle Saxelid, which makes this six-foot-five, 295-pound blocker a perfect fit.

14. Montreal Alouettes — LB/DB Adam Auclair, Laval

Danny Maciocia was forced to part ways with Boseko Lokombo and Chris Ackie this off-season due to the salary cap. Finding players capable of rotating at linebacker and safety is tough, but Auclair is capable of filling both roles while adding some local flavour.

(Photo credit Nevada Athletics)

15. Calgary Stampeders — REC Brendan O’Leary-Orange, Nevada

The son of former all-star CFL running back Doyle Orange has a great frame at six-foot-four and 210 pounds and brings NCAA Division I pedigree. Though not dominant as a senior, O’Leary-Orange had excellent sophomore season, making 39 catches for 618 yards and four touchdowns.

16. Montreal Alouettes (via Saskatchewan) — OL Kétel Assé, Laval

Assé has the size to play tackle at six-foot-six and 311 pounds, a position where Montreal has regularly started at least one national in recent years.

17. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — REC Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo

Ternowski lacks elite size but is one of the most productive receivers in OUA history with 3,068 yards and 26 touchdowns with the Warriors. Hamilton needs to add national talent at the receiver position and Ternowski brings the extra bonus of being a local product.

18. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Mattland Riley, Saskatchewan

There’s nothing fancy about what Riley does, but his rough-and-tumble methodology is exactly what the Bombers covet along the offensive line. He brings grit and smarts to an already deep positional group in The Peg.

19. Ottawa Redblacks (territorial selection) — LB Daniel Basambombo, Laval

There’s not a huge group of players for the Redblacks to consider given their limited territory, but Basambambo is athletic for his size at six-foot and 230 pounds. Ottawa needs to improve its size and athleticism on special teams and this Laval product should help in that area.

20. Toronto Argonauts (territorial selection) — DL Sam Acheampong, Wilfrid Laurier

The six-foot-four, 275-pound pass rusher showed versatility with the Golden Hawks, slotting in as a 3-4 defensive end and 4-3 defensive tackle. The Argos are rebuilding the interior of their defensive line and it’s possible that Acheampong will eventually develop into a starter.

Round Three

21. Calgary Stampeders (via Ottawa) — OL Dylan Giffen, Western

The massive six-foot-eight, 335-pound blocker has drawn comparisons to Calgary’s all-star guard Shane Bergman. If Giffen’s career follows a similar trajectory, this pick will be a slam dunk for the Stamps.

Courtesy: UBC Thunderbirds Athletics

22. Montreal Alouettes — REC Trivel Pinto, UBC

Is coming off a year away from football due to a positive drug test, but remains one of the most explosive players in the draft. Made 234 receptions for 3,224 yards and 30 touchdowns with the Thunderbirds and also brings experience as a return specialist.

23. B.C. Lions — OL Jesse Lawson, Carleton

The Vancouver native played tackle with the Ravens but projects as a CFL guard. The six-foot-six, 305-pound blocker is raw, but brings legitimate upside for a team willing to invest time and energy in his development.

24. Edmonton Eskimos — LB Bailey Feltmate, Acadia

The Esks are razor thin at national linebacker and would be lucky to land Feltmate at this point of the draft. The Moncton, N.B. native runs well for his six-foot-two, 230-pound frame and should play on all four special teams units as a rookie.

25. Montreal Alouettes — DB Noah Hallett, McMaster

His older brother, Nick, had a strong rookie season with Winnipeg in 2019 but Noah is the athletic freak of the family. The departure of Boseko Lokombo and the uncertainty of Taylor Loffler’s knee would make this a shrewd pick for Montreal.

26. Calgary Stampeders — DL Cameron Lawson, Queen’s

The Stamps could use some added depth along the defensive line behind Derek Wiggan and Lawson is a perfect fit. This native of Caledon, Ont. made an impact along the defensive line in 2019 with seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in eight games.

Photo courtesy: Marauders Athletics

27. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — OL Jakub Szott, McMaster

The interior blocker was a second-team all-star in the OUA last season and could be developed at both centre and guard. Hard-nosed football player born and raised in nearby Toronto.

28. Toronto Argonauts (via Winnipeg) — LB Malik Tyne, Towson

Converted basketball player who wasn’t an every-down player with the Tigers. He has the size (six-foot-three, 235 pounds) and athleticism to be developed at defensive end, linebacker or even safety.

Round Four

29. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Kian Schaffer-Baker, Guelph

The Redblacks take the best receiver on the board who brings size (six-foot-four, 210 pounds) and athleticism (40-inch vertical).

30. Saskatchewan Roughriders (via Toronto) — OL Coulter Woodmansey, Guelph

Though not an elite athlete, the six-foot-four, 314-pound blocker is punishing in the run game and plays right to the whistle.

31. Calgary Stampeders (via B.C.) — RB Dion Pellerin, Waterloo

This running back-fullback hybrid will make an impact on special teams while providing a nice complement for Ante Milanovic-Litre.

Credit: Piper Sports Photography

32. Edmonton Eskimos — OL Andrew Becker, Regina

He’s coming off an injury-riddled season, but this native of Kelowna is exactly the type of interior blocker the Eskimos need.

33. Montreal Alouettes — LB Brian Harelimana, Montreal

Danny Maciocia’s not going to go an entire draft without selecting at least one former member of the Carabins and Harelimana is a hard-hitting linebacker who could help a CFL team in many ways.

34. Calgary Stampeders — DB Stavros Katsantonis, UBC

Calgary got a lot out of an undersized defender in Fraser Sopik last season, so why not add this five-foot-nine playmaker out of Bakersfield, California?

35. Saskatchewan Roughriders — FB Liam O’Brien, Saint Mary’s

The converted quarterback put up 996 receiving yards with the Huskies on 65 receptions while generating nine touchdowns during his tenure with the club.

36. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Andrew Seinet-Spaulding, McGill

Lacks an elite frame (six-foot, 285 pounds) but put together a phenomenal 2019 season en route to the J.P. Metras Trophy.

37. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — LB/DB Kurtis Gray, Waterloo

Long-framed (six-foot-two, 205 pounds) tackler who posted elite production with the Warriors.

Round Five

38. Ottawa Redblacks — RB/REC Colton Klassen, Saskatchewan

Proficient as a running back, receiver, and return specialist, it would be fun to see what this elusive weapon could accomplish in Paul LaPolice’s offence.

39. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (via Toronto) — RB/FB Jonathan Femi-Cole, Western

Not overly productive as a ball carrier, but big enough to contribute on special teams while providing extra depth in the backfield.

40. B.C. Lions — DB Matt McConnell, Saint Mary’s

Rangy, big-bodied safety who has been out of football for two seasons due to a drug violation.

41. Edmonton Eskimos — LB Aaron Chabaylo, Alberta

Edmonton takes a local product who runs relatively well for his impressive six-foot-four, 220-pound frame.

42. Toronto Argonauts (via Montreal) — OL Jonathan Zamora, St. FX

Stout centre who will provide some depth if Toronto looks to play a national centre in 2020.

43. B.C. Lions (via Calgary) — RB Kayden Johnson, York

Possess tremendous athleticism for his massive frame (six-foot-three, 245 pounds) but is coming off an injury-plagued season.

Photo courtesy Huskie Athletics – University of Saskatchewan

44. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Nicholas Dheilly, Saskatchewan

Regina native who brings length (six-foot-five, 235 pounds) on special teams and along the defensive line.

45. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DB Nolan Putt, McMaster

Hard-hitting cover man who reminds some scouts of Ticats’ veteran Mike Daly.

46. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Macho Bockru, Manitoba

Winnipeg grabs a local target with sure hands and runs smooth routes.

Best of the rest

These players weren’t listed above but received consideration for rounds one through five. They are listed alphabetically by position.

QB Adam Sinagra, Calgary; REC Brett Ellerman, Western; REC Cordell Hastings, Acadia; OL Theren Churchill, Regina; OL Nicholas Summach, Saskatchewan; DL Gabriel Dansereau, Merrimack College; DL Reshaan Davis, Ottawa; DL Benoit Marion, Montreal; DL Rossini Sangjong-Djabome, York; LB Damien Jamieson, York; LB Daniel Metcalfe, Windsor; LB Samuel Rossi, Montreal; DB Treshaun Abrahams-Webster, Calgary; DB Dotun Aketepe, Guelph; DB Bleska Kambamba, Western; DB Shaydon Philip, Alberta; K Dante Brown, Fort Hays State.

Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool are not listed due to their projections as early-round NFL draft picks.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.