Former second overall pick Nelson Lokombo to make Riders debut as starting cornerback

Screengrab courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The second overall selection in the 2021 CFL Draft will make his debut for the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday and it will be in a starting role.

Canadian defensive back Nelson Lokombo, a product of the University of Saskatchewan, has been named the Riders’ starter at field-side corner for the season opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. While the wide side of the field has traditionally been a low-volume position, the CFL’s shift to narrower hash marks this offseason is likely to increase the volume of action coming Lokombo’s way.

The debut will be an especially meaningful one for Lokombo, who missed the entirety of his rookie season after tearing his Achilles in a pre-training camp field workout. Three other Riders suffered the same injury in that session including veteran Larry Dean, who will also return to the field Saturday as the team’s starting weakside linebacker.

Lokombo is seen by many as a potential ratio-breaking player due to his positional versatility, which is why the Riders coveted him so highly. He is the younger brother of B.C. Lions’ linebacker Bo Lokombo, the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian.

The Abbotsford, B.C. native recorded 115 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 15 pass knockdowns, 10 interceptions, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in 30 games with the Saskatchewan Huskies. The five-foot-11, 190-pound cover man received the Presidents’ Trophy as the top defensive player in U Sports football following the 2019 season.

He’ll now get a chance to showcase those immense talents in Week 1 at a position traditionally reserved for Americans, as Lokombo is the only Canadian starting at cornerback in the CFL to start the 2022 season.