John Hodge’s 2022 CFL mock draft 2.0

Courtesy: AP Photo/Gail Burton

The 2022 CFL Draft is only three weeks away, which means it’s time to provide an update from my first mock draft. The league’s regional and national combines didn’t drastically shake up any of my selections, though we do have a new player featured at the first overall spot.

As with all of my mock drafts, this one 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.

Enjoy!

Round One

1. Edmonton Elks — LB Tyrell Richards, Syracuse

The native of Brampton, Ont. was the star of the CFL Combine last month, running a 4.60 forty-yard dash at six-foot-four and 232 pounds. Richards has the potential to contribute at defensive end, linebacker, and safety, which makes him the perfect fit for head coach and general manager Chris Jones who covets versatility, length, and athleticism.

2. Ottawa Redblacks — 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. didn’t post jaw-dropping testing numbers, but he’s a local product who could be Ottawa’s heir apparent to Cleyon Laing.

3. B.C. Lions — 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 native of Delta, B.C. didn’t have a great showing at the CFL Combine but he fills the Lions’ biggest positional need in the receiving corps.

4. Montreal Alouettes — REC Samuel Emilus, Lousiana Tech

The Montreal native made 17 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs in 2021 after transferring from the University of Massachusetts. The 24-year-old ran a respectable 4.59-second forty-yard dash at his pro day at six-foot-one and 196 pounds and showed impressive explosiveness with a ten-foot, eight-inch broad jump.

5. Calgary Stampeders — DB Enock Makonzo, Coastal Carolina

The native of Lachine, Que. had decided to turn pro instead of transferring to a new NCAA program for the 2022-2023 season. This makes Makonzo an excellent option here for Calgary considering he’s arguably the best defensive player in the draft and the Stampeders lost starting safety Royce Metchie via trade to Toronto earlier this off-season.

6. Toronto Argonauts — 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.

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 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. His stock rose greatly at the CFL Combine where his combination of size, athleticism, and physicality helped him stand out among the other offensive linemen.

9. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 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 Winnipeg 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.

Round Two

10. Toronto Argonauts (via Edmonton Elks) — 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 there while also potentially chipping in as a return specialist. He had two punt return touchdowns in his first career U Sports game and one more in 2019.

11. Ottawa Redblacks — 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. Ottawa already has solid depth along the offensive line but it’s always wise to take a big man early rather than risk waiting until the mid-rounds of the draft.

12. B.C. Lions — REC Tyson Philpot, Calgary

The Lions are able to secure a second local product and the twin brother of their first-round selection, Jalen Philpot. Tyson may have been slightly edged out by Jalen in receptions and yards this past season with the Dinos, but Tyson caught nine touchdown passes while Jalen only caught three.

Photo courtesy: Don Voaklander/Alberta Golden Bears Athletics

13. Montreal Alouettes — LB Josiah Schakel, Alberta

The Alouettes lack depth behind starting weak-side linebacker Chris Ackie and there’s no better option to back him up than this native of Sherwood Park, Alta. Schakel followed a similar collegiate path as Ackie, starting his career as a defensive back before transitioning to linebacker where he was named Canada West’s Outstanding Defensive Player in 2021.

14. Calgary Stampeders — 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. Calgary hit a home run in the 2013 CFL Draft with Shane Bergman, an offensive lineman out of Western who tested poorly. Fry fits the exact same mold.

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 — DL Nathan Cherry, Saskatchewan

Makana Henry signed with Edmonton in free agency, leaving Saskatchewan with limited 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 role as well as pitching in on special teams.

17. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DL Joshua Archibald, McGill

The six-foot-three, 246-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 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 Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers lost Jonathan Kongbo to the NFL this off-season and need to add depth along the defensive line wherever they can get it.

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.

20. Ottawa Redblacks (Territorial) — DL Jesse Luketa, Penn State

The six-foot-three, 256-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 may as well roll the dice here on an elite prospect.

Round 3

Photo courtesy: McMaster Athletic

21. Edmonton Elks — LB Enoch Penney-Laryea, McMaster

The native of Kingston, Jamaica is an ultra-athletic positionless player, which seems like a perfect fit for Chris Jones. Penney-Laryea should be an impact player on special teams from day one with the ability to eventually make an impact at defensive end, linebacker, safety or running back.

22. Ottawa Redblacks — 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 is going back to school for the 2022 season, but Ottawa should be happy to wait an extra year for a player of his calibre.

23. B.C. Lions — DB Adrian Greene, St. Mary’s

The Toronto native was one of the top risers from the CFL Combine, showing explosiveness in testing and impressing in the one-on-ones. Greene fits perfectly in B.C. where the Lions need to continue improving their depth in the secondary if they hope to start a Canadian defensive back in the near future.

24. Montreal Alouettes — OL Braydon Noll, Wilfrid Laurier

The six-foot-four, 298-pound blocker has played a number of spots along the offensive line, which works well for a team like Montreal that starts four Canadian offensive linemen. He’s not the most fleet-footed blocker, but he brings strength and smarts.

25. Calgary Stampeders — LB Tommy Bringi, Wilfrid Laurier

The two-time OUA first-team all-star goes to a club that loves to draft Golden Hawks after recording 33 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and two sacks in 2021. He brings extra depth behind Cameron Judge, who will presumably start at linebacker after being acquired via trade from Toronto.

26. Toronto Argonauts — DL Riley Pickett, Saskatchewan

The six-foot-three, 249-pound defender was the defensive MVP of the Uteck Bowl this past season and turned heads at the combine after posting 29 reps on the bench press and running a respectable 4.90 forty-yard dash. He projects as a core special teams player with the ability to rotate along the defensive line.

27. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DB Katley Joseph, Maine

The Canada Prep Academy graduate knocked down 14 passes over two seasons with the Black Bears before missing the 2021 spring season due to a knee injury. He’s working his way back to full health and is a good positional fit for a team that may look to start a Canadian cornerback in the near future.

28. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — DB Zach Herzog, Hillsdale

This native of Windsor, Ont. reminds me a lot of Stavros Katsantonis, an undersized defensive back the Ticats drafted back in 2020. Katsantonis played well at safety when Tunde Adeleke moved out to field-side halfback in Hamilton last season, making this a nice depth fit for the Ticats.

29. B.C. Lions (via Winnipeg) — OL Peter Kozushka, Alberta

This six-foot-seven, 300-pound blocker out of Yorkton, Sask. has the elite size the Lions have traditionally coveted along the offensive line. Kozushka didn’t test well at the CFL Combine but testing numbers aren’t everything — especially for big men in the trenches.

Round 4

30. Edmonton Elks — DB Jeremie Dominique, Charleston

The six-foot-one, 196-pound cover man is well-traveled, having played at the University of Hawai’i, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Charleston.

Photo courtesy: Guelph Athletics

31. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Kiondre Smith, Guelph

The native of Markham, Ont. interviewed well at the CFL Combine and has the versatility to contribute as a receiver and return specialist.

32. B.C. Lions — LB Jared Beeksma, Guelph

The six-foot-one, 216-pound defender should be a solid CFL special teams player, particularly given his extra ability to long snap.

33. Montreal Alouettes — DB Shaquille St-Lot, Maine

He’s still working back from a torn ACL but the local product would provide some much-needed depth in Montreal’s secondary.

34. Calgary Stampeders — REC Keaton Bruggeling, Carleton

The six-foot-three, 212-pound target had limited production with the Ravens but his size and speed are worth developing at the professional level.

35. Toronto Argonauts — LB Nate Edwards, McMaster

The native of Ancaster, Ont. was a first-team OUA all-star as a special teams cover man, which should translate well to the professional level.

36. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Rodeem Brown, Alberta

The stout blocker is going back to school for 2022 but could be considered a potential heir apparent to longtime Roughriders’ centre Dan Clark.

37. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — RB Rasheed Tucker, Queen’s

Hamilton lost Jackson Bennett to the Redblacks in free agency, which means adding some depth in the backfield is probably a good idea on draft day.

38. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DB Daniel Valente, Western

The U Sports first-team all-Canadian lack elite size and speed but certainly fits Winnipeg’s mold with high character and football intelligence.