2022 CFL Draft position rankings: offensive line

Photo courtesy: GetMyPhoto.ca/Saskatchewan Huskies

The 2022 CFL Draft is almost upon us and as always, 3DownNation will have you covered with the most in-depth coverage anywhere in Canada.

With all the debates raging in the CFL, collective bargaining ongoing, and two separate drafts set to take place on May 3, it can be difficult for fans to keep track of all the prospects who might make an impact for your team next season. We’re here to help by giving you the inside scoop on the top players at every position in the lead up to the league’s annual pick-fest.

We’ve covered quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers so far, but today it’s time to dive into the backbone of any CFL Draft class: the offensive linemen. This year’s group lacks a true day one difference-maker, but still contains a few intriguing projects with major value in the long run.

Offensive Linemen

Photo courtesy: Greg Kolz/GeeGees Athletics

1. Zack Pelehos, University of Ottawa (Gananoque, Ont.)

A silky smooth athlete at six-foot-five and 293 pounds, Pelehos is a coach’s dream with an incredibly high ceiling. Explosive out of his stance and gifted on the move, the GeeGees’ team MVP can gain play-side leverage in a single step and finishes violent as a puller, with an elite ability to fit up defenders in space. Pelehos will need time to improve his anchor and refine his technique in pass protection as he transitions inside to guard, but the upside is massive for a team willing to make the commitment.

2. Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, Université Laval (Quebec City, Que.)

More pro ready than I believe many give him credit for, Hogan-Saindon has all the first step quickness and lateral agility you want from a starting calibre centre. The six-foot-four, 300-pounder is a powerful puncher who often stuns defenders on first contact and keeps his feet moving to finish blocks. The Rouge et Or standout already has a good anchor and solid awareness when it comes to passing off stunts or picking up blitzes, though he will need to break some bad habits when it comes to hand placement.

3. Noah Zerr, University of Saskatchewan (Langenburg, Sask.)

An absolute mauler of a left tackle for one of the best running teams in the country, Zerr has rightfully earned the title of the lineman most ready to contribute as a rookie. His high floor is accompanied by a much lower ceiling however, as Scott Flory’s latest draft gem is heavy-footed and shows a troublesome lack of agility despite checking in at a lean six-foot-six and 304-pounds. There is no escaping once the long-armed Zerr has you in his grasp, but his lack of quickness means he’ll need to transition inside to guard and play in a downhill attack to truly thrive.

4. Gregor MacKellar, St. Francis Xavier University (Timberlea, N.S.)

A transfer from Rice University, MacKellar was predictably physically dominant against much smaller competition in the Atlantic University Sport Conference. As a result, the six-foot-three, 322-pounder has developed some bad habits, hiding poor technique and penalties beneath his overall nastiness. The high-end size, strength, and power that got him NCAA Division I attention remains however, making MacKellar a real dark horse in this draft.

5. Rodeem Brown, University of Alberta (Halifax, N.S.)

Standing at just six-foot and 280 pounds, Brown is the type of undersized centre projection that often has a tough time finding job security in the CFL. The first team All-Canadian selection shows every indication of being the exception to the rule however, punching well above his weight class in terms of physicality and power. Brown will take it to you in the run game and his short stature gives him natural leverage that translates into a ridiculous anchor, though he has a tendency to set his feet too early. The fact he is returning to school will make him fall further than he should in this draft class.

Photo courtesy: Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

6. Zack Fry, Western University (London, Ont.)

A prospect rife with contradictions, Fry has the foot quickness to get his six-foot-five, 305-pound frame in position for almost any block, but struggles to do much more than cover up and lean on defenders. His lower body is thin and stiff, he doesn’t bend well and the whispers about his weight room work ethic after posting just nine bench reps at the Combine show up on tape as a lack of power. Nevertheless, Fry’s size and athletic tools still have tremendous value if the structure of a professional locker room can help reshape his body.

7. Braydon Noll, Wilfrid Laurier University (Orangeville, Ont.)

A sneaky riser out of the Combine, Noll checks the necessary boxes when it comes to strength and explosiveness. He proved himself to be versatile as well, playing all spots along the line at Laurier, but the six-foot-four, 298-pounder doesn’t play with the same juice as other prospects. Noll doesn’t deliver a blow on first contact and can be a bit of a leaner, but his raw footwork shows a worthy developmental project.

8. Peter Kozushka, University of Alberta (Yorkton, Sask.)

Six-foot-six and 328 pounds with 33-inch arms, Kozushka is exactly what you want in an offensive lineman from a size perspective. However, he is a lumbering athlete and relies far more on the fact that U Sports defensive lineman can’t contend with his girth and length than on technical footwork or prowess. He possess many of the same athletic limitations as Zerr, but isn’t the same level of butt-kicker.

9. Marc-David Bien-Aimé, Fresno State University (Montreal, Que.)

You might as well throw a dart at a board to guess where Bien-Aimé really deserves to fit in this draft class, so I’ll stick him here behind the bulk of the National Combine participants. The six-foot-five, 365-pound behemoth only dressed for one game at Fresno State and hasn’t played in two years, but the allure of a once elite prospect with special size will be powerful in a weak draft.

10. Diego Alatorre, University of British Columbia (Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Mexico)

Recruited off the Mexican national team, UBC head coach Blake Nill once dubbed the six-foot-two, 312-pound Alatorre the best o-line prospect he’d seen since Sukh Chungh. Granted Canadian status upon graduation, the Canada West all-star will likely have to move to centre due to his uncommonly short arms, but should be a worthy draft pick after excelling at both tackle and guard. Alatorre has the intelligence and lateral quickness to play the position, wins with good body positioning, and naturally rolls his hips through contact to finish with prejudice.

Photo courtesy: Gerry Marentette/Windsor Lancers

11. Ibrahim Hassoun, University of Windsor (Hamilton, Ont.)

A solid guard with pop in his first step, Hassoun has even lined up at defensive tackle on the goal line defence. He’s not an elite mover and struggles to recover when out of position, but the six-foot-two, 322-pounder is a reliable late-round grinder who will knock you back off the ball.

12. Nicolas Guay, Université Laval (Quebec City, Que.)

Lined up alongside Hogan-Saindon, Guay flashes some impressive bursts of lateral quickness and agility in space. However, the six-foot-one, 298-pound centre projection lacks any real physical pop to his game and feels slight despite his adequate size. It will be up to coaching at the next level to add power to his other attributes.

13. Jacob Butler, Queen’s University (Chilliwack, B.C.)

An average tackle who will move inside to guard, Butler hits the athletic benchmarks for the position, but doesn’t flash any true high-end traits. He is capable in the short area and plays with good effort, but the six-foot-four, 299-pounder struggles to get movement when blocking one-on-one and gets caught torquing defenders with his hands outside.

14. Lindon Ivezic, University of Windsor (Farmington Hills, Michigan)

An American nationalized by graduation, Ivezic looks crisp and put together at six-foot-two, 298 pounds, with good length to boot. Deceptively quick despite his measurables, Ivezic is a clean pass setter with some edge to his game and the right skills to be a real sleeper at guard.

15. Brandon Sanford, University of British Columbia (Salmon Arm, B.C.)

Sanford’s film is sloppy, but he tested with impressive explosiveness at the Western Regional Combine, finishing second among all linemen in this draft with an eight-foot, seven-and-three-quarter-inch broad jump. That was while tipping the scales at six-foot-four and 336 pounds, so there may be some untapped raw potential yet to be exposed.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.