Combine season is officially upon us, which means it’s time for my first mock draft.
As with all of my mock drafts, the one below is a combination of informed speculation, prediction, and personal opinion. The draft is still almost two months away, so a lot can still change between now and then.
I will post at least one more mock draft prior to the 2022 CFL Draft featuring changes that have come as a result of the 2022 NFL Draft, the national and regional combines, pro days, and sourcing of inside information.
1. Edmonton Elks — DL Deionte Knight, Western
The six-foot-four, 275-pound defender was dominant in 2021, recording 52 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, ten sacks, and two fumble recoveries en route to winning the J. P. Metras Trophy. The native of Ajax, Ont. is drawing NFL interest following an impressive showing at the Shrine Bowl but could be a long-term starter for the Elks along the defensive line.
2. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Jalen Philpot, Calgary
The son of former CFL running back Cory Philpot made an average of 7.2 catches for 133.2 yards per game in 2021 and was selected as a U Sports first-team all-Canadian. The Redblacks may have added Llevi Noel and Shaq Johnson in free agency, but I can’t see Ottawa passing up on the best offensive weapon in the draft.
3. B.C. Lions — REC Tyson Philpot, Calgary
The release of Lemar Durant left a gaping hole in the Lions’ receiving corps and this native of Delta, B.C. is a great candidate to fill it. Philpot may have been slightly edged out by his twin brother in receptions and yards this past season, but Tyson made nine touchdown catches while Jalen made only three.
4. Montreal Alouettes — LB Tyrell Richards, Syracuse
The native of Brampton, Ont. fills Montreal’s biggest need at linebacker where he should make an immediate impact on special teams while serving as a backup to Chris Ackie. The six-foot-four, 218-pound defender didn’t play in 2021 but could still end up being the best defensive player in this draft class.
5. Calgary Stampeders — DB Enock Makonzo, Coastal Carolina
The native of La Chine, Que. is currently in the NCAA transfer portal, which means he may elect not to turn pro until 2023. Even so, Makonzo would be an excellent pick here considering he’s arguably the best defensive player in the draft and Calgary lost starting safety Royce Metchie via trade to Toronto.
6. Toronto Argonauts — DB Tyrell Ford, Waterloo
The Argos have arguably the best Canadian depth in the CFL, but the one position at which they could stand to add some some talent is safety. Ford would give the club instant depth at there while also potentially chipping in as a return specialist. He had two punt return touchdowns in his first-ever U Sports game and one more in 2019.
7. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Noah Zerr, Saskatchewan
The Riders have used their two most recent first-round draft picks on players out of the University of Saskatchewan and I don’t think this year will be any different. Zerr has excellent size at six-foot-seven and 330 pounds and would help address Saskatchewan’s biggest need along the offensive line.
8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — OL Peter Kozushka, Alberta
Hamilton is going to need an heir apparent to offensive tackle Chris Van Zeyl at some point and this six-foot-seven, 300-pound blocker out of Yorkton, Sask. might be the best candidate in this draft class. Kozushka is lean and long but can still pack a punch in the run game.
9. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Zach Pelehos, Ottawa
The six-foot-six, 304-pound blocker played right tackle with the Gee-Gees but should slide inside to play guard at the professional level. Winnipeg has had success drafting athletic, physical offensive linemen since their current regime took over in 2013 and Pelehos fits that mold perfectly.
10. Toronto Argonauts (via Edmonton Elks) — QB Tre Ford, Waterloo
The reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner has a strong arm and excellent speed, averaging 95.3 rushing yards per game with the Warriors in 2021. Ford makes a lot of sense for a team like Toronto with no immediate positional needs. He has elite athleticism and the versatility to potentially contribute as a passer, ball carrier or receiver. It’s also fitting that Toronto would keep Ford together with Tyrell, his twin brother and Waterloo teammate.
11. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Anthony Federico, Queen’s
The six-foot-four, 240-pound defender lacks the size to be an every-down player at defensive tackle in the CFL, but I could see him excelling in a rotational role in Ottawa. The Redblacks will likely start two Canadian defensive linemen in 2022 — Cleyon Laing in the middle and Kwaku Boateng off the edge — so having a versatile pass-rusher like Federico would be an asset.
12. B.C. Lions — OL Zack Fry, Western
The native of London, Ont. was a U Sports second-team all-Canadian at tackle in 2021 as he helped anchor the best offensive line in the country. The six-foot-six, 300-pound blocker has more finesse than power and would likely be best-suited to playing tackle at the professional level.
13. Montreal Alouettes — OL Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, Laval
The 24-year-old was an RSEQ all-star at centre for the Rouge et Or in 2021 and fills a need for Montreal along the interior of their offensive line. Laval offensive linemen have plummeted down draft boards in recent years due to injury problems, but Hogan-Saindon is looking to reverse that trend.
14. Calgary Stampeders — OL Gregor MacKellar, St. FX
The six-foot-five, 311-pound blocker redshirted at Rice in 2017 before transferring to his home province to play for the X-Men. Calgary has a history of drafting offensive linemen from the AUS and MacKellar fills one of the club’s biggest needs along the line of scrimmage.
15. Toronto Argonauts — RB Daniel Adeboboye, Bryant
The Argos are clearly looking to change the ratio in the backfield after making Andrew Harris the highest-paid running back in the CFL in free agency. Adeboboye — who was born in Toronto — posted over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns over four seasons at the FCS level with the Bulldogs.
16. Saskatchewan Roughriders — LB Ryder Varga, Regina
The Regina native runs well for his six-foot-three, 225-pound frame and was extremely productive this past season, making 48 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one fumble recovery. Varga would give the Riders a nice option behind former second-round draft pick Micah Teitz, who became the starter at weak-side linebacker in 2021.
17. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Joshua Archibald, McGill
The six-foot-three, 258-pound edge rusher saw his production decline this past season following a breakout campaign in 2019 during which he made 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Archibald would fill a depth role behind former first-round pick Mason Bennett as the Ticats potentially look to start a Canadian at defensive end in the coming years.
18. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DL Nathan Cherry, Saskatchewan
Jonathan Kongbo signed with the Denver Broncos in January, leaving Winnipeg without any Canadian depth along the defensive line. Cherry recorded eight tackles for loss and six sacks with the Huskies in 2021 and should be capable of filling a rotational pass-rushing role as well as pitching in on special teams.
19. Edmonton Elks (Territorial) — DB Jayden Dalke, Alberta
The native of Leduc, Alta. played four seasons with the Edmonton Wildcats of the CJFL before joining the Golden Bears. I’m not sure he has the range to play safety at the professional level, but Dalke will pack a punch on special teams. Fellow Golden Bear Josiah Shakel would also be a nice option for the Elks with this pick.
20. Ottawa Redblacks (Territorial) — DL Jesse Luketa, Penn State
The six-foot-three, 247-pound defender should be a mid-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, which means there’s a reasonable chance he’ll never play in the CFL. Normally this would be far too high to take a flier on a player like Luketa but territorial selections are freebies, so the Redblacks might as well roll the dice here on an elite prospect.