John Hodge’s 2021 CFL Mock Draft 2.0

Photo courtesy: UVA Athletics Media Relations

The 2021 CFL Draft is set for 7:00 p.m. ET tonight and it’s time to take a final look at how things could play out.

As with all of my mock drafts, this one is a combination of informed speculation, prediction, and personal opinion. Some of these picks will be bang-on, others will be close, and a few will be off by several rounds. Take that for what it’s worth.

Here we go.

Round One

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — REC Terrell Jana, Virginia

I had Jana at No. 1 in my first mock draft in January and I’m not changing my prediction now.

The native of Burnaby, B.C. could start at field-side wideout as a rookie while developing into an impact slotback. There are scouts who believe he will grow into a 1,000-yard receiver in the CFL, which speaks to his sky-high potential.

Jana recorded 123 receptions over 49 games with the Cavaliers for 1,481 yards and five touchdowns. He started over Dejon Brissett — the No. 2 pick in last year’s CFL draft — in 2019 and was voted to serve as a team captain as a senior.

He’s a high-character player who’s ready to contribute now while developing into a potential star. The fact that he fits Hamilton’s biggest positional need is just an added bonus.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders — TE Jake Burt, Boston College

Burt was a late addition to the draft who was born in Regina but moved to Massachusetts with his family at the age of three. He spent the 2020 season on the practice roster with the New England Patriots, which has significantly raised his draft stock.

The six-foot-three, 245-pounder recorded 23 receptions for 307 yards and two touchdowns with the Eagles as he fought through a torn ACL (2016) and a broken collarbone (2019). He should contribute in the CFL as a blocker, receiver, and on special teams.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Pier-Olivier Lestage, Montreal

This selection comes with risk as Lestage recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. He’s lean, fluid, and powerful — exactly what the Blue Bombers covet at the guard position.

Winnipeg doesn’t need immediate help along the offensive line with former first-round pick Geoff Gray serving as the sixth man, so the team can afford to roll the dice and take arguably the best blocker in the 2021 CFL Draft class. This is another pick I haven’t changed since January.

4. B.C. Lions — DB Nelson Lokombo, Saskatchewan

The reigning Presidents’ Trophy winner has the ability to make an impact at a number of different positions — field-side cornerback, safety or even strong-side linebacker. He recorded ten interceptions and 15 knockdowns with the Huskies, which is a testament to his ball skills.

B.C. lacks national play-making ability in the secondary and Lokombo could fill the void immediately. His brother Boseko plays linebacker for the Lions and the pair were raised in nearby Abbotsford, which is an added bonus.

5. Edmonton Football Team — LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, Oklahoma State

The two-time All-Big 12 Second-Team selection is one of the most polished linebacker prospects in the recent history of the CFL draft. He’s currently under contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, but I suspect he’ll still be a first-round CFL Draft pick.

Ogbongbemiga posted 208 total tackles, nine sacks, and four forced fumbles over 48 games with the Cowboys and projects as a ratio-breaking starter at middle linebacker. He’ll be great on special teams as a rookie, which is perfect for a team like Edmonton that lacks national talent on its cover teams.

6. Ottawa Redblacks — OL Liam Dobson, Texas State

The Redblacks have need at receiver and linebacker, but I can’t see them passing up on a blue-chip offensive lineman from their own backyard. Dobson has transferred to Texas State after an excellent career at tackle and guard at the University of Maine.

He’s got a massive frame at six-foot-three and 344 pounds, yet remains athletic enough to dunk a basketball. There’s a reasonable chance he gets an NFL look in 2022, but Dobson is worth a gamble for the Redblacks.

7. Toronto Argonauts — DL Mohamed Diallo, Central Michigan

Believe it or not, this Toronto native didn’t start playing football until after high school. The six-foot-four, 305-pounder was originally a basketball player before playing along the defensive line at Arizona Western College.

Diallo was named All-MAC First Team in 2020 after recording 9.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in just five games. He recently entered the transfer portal but there are rumours that he could be ready to turn pro in 2021, which have further raised his stock.

8. Calgary Stampeders — OL Peter Nicastro, Calgary

The 2019 Canada West all-star has been a late riser through the draft process as more teams have taken notice of his physicality and quickness in space.

The Calgary native has extensive experience at the centre and guard positions and compensates for a lack of elite size (six-foot-two, 306 pounds) with smooth feet and solid bend. He may still fall to the second round, but Nicastro is a sleeper who could hear his name called early on Tuesday.

9. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Montreal) — DL Daniel Joseph, North Carolina State

The brother of former No. 1 CFL draft selection Faith Ekakitie transferred from Penn State for the 2020 season, which was a shrewd decision. Joseph made 37 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks in eleven games with the Wolfpack, establishing himself as their best pass rusher.

The six-foot-three, 260-pounder is the best edge rusher in this year’s draft and Hamilton could look to pair him with 2020 first-round selection Mason Bennett as a future starter.

Round Two

10. Montreal Alouettes — DB Redha Kramdi, Montreal

The five-foot-eleven, 198-pound defender played strong-side linebacker for Danny Maciocia with the Carabins but projects as a CFL safety. He’s tenacious, physical, and a student of the game who will excel on special teams.

11. Calgary Stampeders — DL Deshawn Stevens, Maine

The Toronto native just entered into the NCAA’s transfer portal, though some believe there’s a chance he’ll be in the CFL in 2021. He’s got great size at six-foot-two and 255 pounds and has the potential to start at middle linebacker, defensive end or even defensive tackle.

12. Toronto Argonauts — OL Bryce Bell, Wilfrid Laurier

The six-foot-two, 295-pound blocker has been a late riser as teams take notice of his footwork and balance. He locked down the right tackle position with the Golden Hawks and will look to do the same at guard in the CFL.

13. Ottawa Redblacks — LB Ben Hladik, UBC

The two-time U Sports Second-Team All-Canadian has the ability to play linebacker or defensive end given his six-foot-four, 240-pound frame. He practically lived on the opponent’s side of the field in Canada West, racking up 28 career tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

14. Edmonton Football Team — OL Logan Bandy, Calgary

The two-time U Sports Second-Team All-Canadian has room to continue building his frame and moves well on film. Though he’ll likely play guard at the professional level, Bandy has the potential to fill in at tackle in the CFL if called upon.

15. B.C. Lions — OL Sage Doxtater, New Mexico State

The six-foot-seven, 320-pound blocker has started 32 of 33 games with the Aggies at left tackle, making him a legitimate ratio-breaking CFL prospect. B.C. needs help along the offensive line and, though Doxtater may spend some time in the NFL, he’s someone worth having in the pipeline.

16. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DB Alonzo Addae, West Virginia

The Pickering, Ont. native had an exceptional season with the Mountaineers in 2020, making 66 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, five knockdowns, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He’s planning to return to college next season, but will be an elite CFL safety if/when he signs north of the border.

17. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Connor Berglof, Saskatchewan

The 2019 U Sports First-Team All-Canadian has extensive experience at centre and guard. Some scouts feel the Saskatoon native is better than former Huskies teammate Mattland Riley, who the Riders selected in the first round of the 2020 CFL draft.

18. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DB Deane Leonard, Ole Miss

The two-time U Sports First-Team All-Canadian is returning to Ole Miss for 2021 to continue pursuing his NFL aspirations. If Hamilton can get the Calgary native under contract by 2022 or 2023, consider this pick the steal of the draft.

Round Three

19. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — LB Grant McDonald, Calgary

Picking up a potential ratio-breaker at middle linebacker like McDonald in the third round is great value. This six-foot-three, 235-pound tackler was extremely productive through two seasons with the Dinos, making 83 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception.

20. Saskatchewan Roughriders — RB Kyle Borsa, Regina

The former Rams star ran sub-4.50 in the forty-yard dash, which makes him possibly the fastest player in this year’s draft class. This is a great local fit for a team that could eventually look to start a Canadian at running back.

21. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Tommy Nield, McMaster

Winnipeg needs to add depth at receiver and this native of Guelph is a perfect fit. He’s got good size at six-foot-four and 210 pounds and posted solid production with the Marauders with 102 career receptions for 1,618 yards and ten touchdowns.

22. B.C. Lions — DB Patrice Rene, Rutgers

The six-foot-two, 208-pound cornerback was a star at North Carolina before suffering a torn ACL in 2019. He’s transferred to Rutgers for his final college season in 2021 as he looks to generate interest heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.

23. Edmonton Football Team — OL Alaric Jackson, Iowa

The four-year starter at left tackle with the Hawkeyes is currently under contract with the Los Angeles Rams but projects as a potential ratio-breaker in the CFL. If he’s available this late — which is far from a guarantee — I’d be stunned to see Edmonton pass him up.

24. Ottawa Redblacks — TE Bruno Labelle, Cincinnati

The six-foot-four, 250-pounder was an excellent blocker with the Bearcats who is currently under contract with the Arizona Cardinals. He’ll be great on special teams, a fantastic blocker, and shouldn’t look out of place if he’s asked to catch a pass or two.

25. Toronto Argonauts — OL Christopher Fournier, Lehigh

The Ottawa native has received offers from Toledo and UConn in the transfer portal as he looks to draw NFL interest for 2022. There are rumours that Fournier may decide to play in the CFL this upcoming season, which could really boost his stock.

26. Calgary Stampeders — RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

This might be a bit of a reach, but Hubbard is worth the risk for Calgary as an Alberta-born player who could one day become the face of a CFL franchise. The former track star recorded over 2,000 rushing yards with the Cowboys in 2019 and might be even better-suited for the wide open Canadian game.

27. Montreal Alouettes — OL Tyler Packer, Calgary

The Als get a six-foot-six blocker who has completely changed his body since the 2019 Vanier Cup, dropping from 340 to 300 pounds. With improved mobility, Packer could be a difference-maker for a team that features some aging starters along the offensive line.

Best of the rest: RB Deonté Glover, Shepherd; REC Dominic Johnson, Buffalo; REC Will Corby, Toronto; DL Alain Cimankinda, Carleton; DL Olivier Charles-Pierre, Houston; LB Nick Cross, UBC; LB Robbie Lowes, Regina; DB Shae Weekes, Bemidji State; P Jake Julien, Eastern Michigan.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.