Redblacks keeping close eye on Stevens, Addae as NFL draft approaches

Courtesy: AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Shawn Burke is keeping close tabs on edge rusher Deshawn Stevens and defensive back Alonzo Addae as they navigate the upcoming NFL draft.

“We’ve kept in touch with them. (Head) coach (Paul) LaPolice always does a great job reaching out to guys and so does our personnel staff. I would say we will probably have a better idea Sunday or Monday (if they will be in Ottawa in 2022) as we get through the NFL (draft),” said Burke via videoconference.

“I don’t want to put predictions on their NFL chances because we’re wishing them well. I think we’ll get a quick update. The NFL process works very quickly after the draft — they usually by Monday know who’s getting into the [undrafted free agent] and even the minicamp process and everything. We’d be nothing but supportive throughout.”

Stevens and Addae were selected by the Redblacks in the first two rounds of last year’s CFL draft but chose to remain in college instead of turning pro. It’s unlikely that either will be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft this weekend but there is a possibility that one or both could be signed as undrafted free agents or be invited to an NFL minicamp.

“We’re conversing with their agents this week and probably laying it out that, ‘Hey, we’re now at a point if something doesn’t happen, where are you guys standing with it in terms of waiting a bit longer or do you want to get on the field right away?’ We’re having those conversations but we just wish them well through this weekend. It’s a big dream of every player in the NFL draft this week and we’ll see what happens,” said Burke.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Stevens was a standout at Maine who led his team with 36 tackles during a four-game pandemic-shortened season that took place in the spring of 2021. He transferred to West Virginia for the fall of 2021 but wasn’t nearly as productive with the Mountaineers, recording 12 total tackles in 12 games.

Addae was sensational in 2020 and was named All-Big 12 Second Team after recording 66 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He improved on those numbers in 2021 as he made 73 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, one sack, and one fumble recovery.

Burke is pleased to potentially have two top-tier talents on the way courtesy of last year’s draft but indicated that the possible additions of Stevens and Addae will not impact how Ottawa approaches the CFL draft on May 3.

“At the end of the day the draft is going to be set by our board and we’re going to follow our board and go from there. I think you find yourself getting into not as great situations when you’re drafting against your board and maybe for need or who’s available right now or whatnot,” he said.

“The reality is the way the draft’s been going in the last few years with number of Canadians reaching NFL camp levels and stuff is sometimes you’re going have to wait on them and you’ll have to take a calculated risk of knowing what you think their odds are to make the NFL. We’ll evaluate each situation round-by-round and make the best decision for the organization.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.