Eight players who could be taken first overall in the 2023 CFL Draft

Photo: AP/Barry Reeger

The 2023 CFL Draft is just over two months away, which means it’s time to start taking a look at who the Ottawa Redblacks could select with the first overall pick.

A few of the draft’s top prospects are not listed below as they are drawing too much interest from the NFL to be considered for such a high pick. These players include Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron, Illinois running back Chase Brown, Illinois defensive back Sydney Brown, and Ole Miss defensive lineman Tavius Robinson.

Though the Redblacks have struggled in recent years, this marks the first time they’ve had the top pick in the draft since 2015 when they selected offensive lineman Alex Mateas out of the University of Connecticut. The local product retired following the COVID-19 pandemic but was a two-time East Division all-star at centre, so Ottawa will be looking to replicate that success with this year’s selection.

Players are listed alphabetically by last name. Stay tuned for more draft coverage on 3DownNation, including my first mock draft next week.

Photo courtesy: Southern Utah Athletics

DL Francis Bemiy, Southern Utah

The six-foot-four, 270-pound defender made 163 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two knockdowns, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery over 49 games with the Thunderbirds. He’s not only a great positional fit for the Redblacks but also fits well off the field as he was born in nearby Montreal and speaks fluent French.

Photo: AP/Gary Kazanjian

OL Dontae Bull, Fresno State

Ottawa used its first two picks in last year’s draft on offensive linemen, showing that protecting Jeremiah Masoli is one of the club’s top priorities. Bull was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and may not receive as much interest from the NFL as originally anticipated after suffering a broken leg late last season.

Photo: AP/Karl B DeBlaker

DL Quintin Seguin, Charleston Southern

The native of Windsor, Ont. transferred to the Buccaneers from the University of North Dakota this past season and recorded 28 tackles, three tackles for loss, and one sack in 2022. At six-foot-three and 270 pounds, he has the ability to contribute as an interior defender or an edge defender depending on scheme.

Photo: EMU Athletics

OL Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan

The six-foot-five, 326-pound blocker was recently invited to the NFL Combine, which has momentarily lowered his draft stock north of the border. If he fails to impress NFL scouts, Sow could very well be in the mix for the first overall pick in the CFL draft as he’s a five-year starter with experience at both guard and tackle.

Photo: AP/Barry Reeger

DB Jonathan Sutherland, Penn State

The Ottawa native is one of the most versatile defenders in this year’s draft who should be able to contribute in the CFL at safety, strong-side linebacker or even weak-side linebacker. He made 137 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, six knockdowns, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery over 58 career games with the Nittany Lions.

Photo: Northern Illinois Athletics

REC Cole Tucker, Northern Illinois

The native of DeKalb, Ill. was recently added to this year’s CFL draft as his mother was born in Brandon, Man. He’ll have to test well to be seriously considered for the first overall pick but there’s no questioning his production as he made 155 receptions for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns over five seasons with the Huskies.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Brandon Wade

DL Lwal Uguak, Texas Christian

The six-foot-five, 271-pound defender didn’t play much after transferring to Texas Christian University this past season but previously made an impact at the University of Connecticut, recording 69 tackles, nine tackles for loss, four sacks, four knockdowns, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The Edmonton native’s brother, Aher, plays in the Basketball Bundesliga and his cousin, Luol Deng, played 15 seasons in the NBA.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

REC Jared Wayne, Pittsburgh

The native of Peterborough, Ont. made 146 receptions for 2,308 yards and 13 touchdowns over four seasons at the University of Pittsburgh and was named second team All-ACC in 2022. The six-foot-three, 210-pound target is the subject of NFL interest, though he could end up in the CFL next year depending on how well he tests. His father, Patrick, played seven seasons in the CFL with Ottawa, B.C., and Toronto.

The 2023 CFL Draft will take place on Tuesday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. The first-round selections will take place in the following order: Ottawa (1); Edmonton (2); Saskatchewan (3); Calgary via Hamilton (4); Montreal (5); Hamilton via Calgary (6); Montreal via B.C. (7); Winnipeg (8); and B.C. via Toronto (9).

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.