John Hodge’s 2023 CFL Mock Draft 1.0

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Athletics

The 2023 CFL Draft is officially less than two months away, which means it’s time to start projecting how teams could potentially make their selections.

This mock draft is a combination of informed speculation and personal opinion. It has also been made with the assumption that top prospects Matthew Bergeron, Chase Brown, Sydney Brown, Tavius Robinson, and Sidy Sow will fall into the later rounds of the draft after performing well at the NFL’s recent combine.

Things can change quickly leading up to the draft, so make sure you stay tuned to 3DownNation for all the latest news, insight, and analysis ahead of May 2. Without further ado, here is the first edition of my 2023 CFL Mock Draft.

Round One

1. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Jared Wayne, Pittsburgh

The six-foot-three, 210-pound target was named second-team All-ACC this past season after making 60 receptions for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns. The native of Peterborough, Ont. will participate in Pittsburgh’s pro day on March 29 where he will look to impress scouts from both sides of the border. If the NFL doesn’t come calling, Wayne would be an excellent addition to Ottawa’s receiving corps.

2. Edmonton Elks — DB Jonathan Sutherland, Penn State

The Ottawa native is one of the most versatile defenders in this year’s draft and has drawn comparisons to Enock Makonzo, who Edmonton selected in the first round of last year’s draft. Sutherland made 38 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one knockdown, and one fumble recovery for the Nittany Lions this past season and projects as a CFL safety or strong-side linebacker.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Lwal Uguak, TCU

The six-foot-five, 271-pound defender didn’t play much for the Horned Frogs following a transfer from the University of Connecticut but has all the tools to become an impact CFL player. The Riders need to get better along the line of scrimmage and Uguak brings impressive length and quickness to compete along the interior or coming off the edge.

4. Calgary Stampeders — DL Francis Bemiy, Southern Utah

The Montreal native spent a lot of time in opposing backfields over his five seasons with the Thunderbirds, recording 38.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. He could immediately fill an important role for the Stampeders rotating alongside Derek Wiggan and Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund, both of whom are set to become free agents following the 2023 season.

5. Montreal Alouettes — REC Cole Tucker, Northern Illinois

Montreal started three Canadian receivers late last season and needs to add a pass-catcher following Hergy Mayala’s departure for the USFL. Tucker made 155 receptions for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns over five seasons with the Huskies and was recently added to this year’s draft class as his mother was born and raised in Brandon, Man.

Photo courtesy: Samuel Marshall/Fresno State Athletics

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — OL Dontae Bull, Fresno State

The six-foot-seven, 320-pound blocker was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and is coming off a broken leg he suffered late last season, which may hamper his potential NFL opportunities. Orlondo Steinauer has strong ties to Fresno State and the Ticats need to add depth along an offensive line that is chock-full of aging veterans and pending free agents.

7. Montreal Alouettes — LB Michael Brodrique, Montreal

It’s no secret that general manager Danny Maciocia loves drafting players out of the Université de Montreal and Brodrique projects as a potential starter at middle linebacker. The Alouettes selected rangy defender Tyrell Richards with the first overall pick in last year’s draft, making Brodrique a nice pairing if the club decides to start a Canadian linebacker over the long term.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Phillip Grohovac, Western

In a draft that’s relatively light on blockers, the Blue Bombers would be smart to scoop one up as quickly as possible. Grohovac is arguably the most polished of all the U Sports offensive linemen available in this year’s draft and is familiar with the downhill, run-heavy attack that Winnipeg employs on offence.

9. B.C. Lions — DB Siriman Harrison Bagayogo, Guelph

The six-foot-two, 197-pound defender has a combination of size, speed, and cover skills that is rare coming out of U Sports. B.C. has strong Canadian depth at a number of positions but is sorely lacking at defensive back, where the club currently starts an all-American secondary.

Round Two

10. Ottawa Redblacks — OL Evan Floren, Queen’s

The native of Ancaster, Ont. was named a second-team U Sports All-Canadian this past season after opening holes for the country’s second-leading rushing attack. He’s a little bit top-heavy but he’s bull strong and moves well for his size, providing Ottawa with some added depth along the offensive line.

11. Saskatchewan Roughriders — OL Edouard Paradis, Houston Christian

The native of Levis, Que. was a two-year starter at guard with the Huskies in the Southland Conference of the FCS. The six-foot-four, 320-pound blocker started his collegiate career at the New Mexico Military Institute where he was named an All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference honourable mention.

Photo courtesy: University of Regina Athletics

12. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Anthony Bennett, Regina

The six-foot-three, 230-pound edge rusher was named a first-team U Sports All-Canadian this past season after recording 38 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one interception, and one fumble recovery. He should contribute on special teams immediately while also rotating in at defensive end alongside fellow nationals Kene Onyeka and Deshawn Stevens.

13. Montreal Alouettes — FB David Dallaire, Laval

The six-foot-three, 217-pounder was named an RSEQ all-star this past season after rushing for five touchdowns and catching 18 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. The Alouettes need to add a fullback in the draft and don’t have a pick in the third round, so grabbing one here seems like a prudent move.

14. B.C. Lions — DL Lake Korte-Moore, UBC

The Ottawa native was named a Canada West all-star this past year after recording 48 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three knockdowns, and one forced fumble. He packs a powerful bull rush coming off the edge and should immediately be a strong contributor on special teams.

15. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 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 the scheme.

Photo courtesy: Guelph Gryphons

16. Toronto Argonauts — REC Clark Barnes, Guelph

Barnes is a little smaller than former Guelph teammate Kian Schaffer-Baker but is just as explosive, having caught five touchdown passes in five games with the Gryphons in 2021. The Argos need to add more depth behind star Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and don’t need to look far to secure this native of Brampton, Ont.

17. Ottawa Redblacks (territorial) — LB James Peter, Ottawa

Peter was named a first-team U Sports All-Canadian this past season after making 58 total tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one knockdown. The five-foot-ten, 230-pound defender is local, athletic, and would be capable of contributing heavily on special teams right away.

18. Edmonton Elks (territorial) — DB Jake Taylor, Alberta

The native of Beaumont, Alta. is one of the most explosive athletes available in this year’s draft, recording a 38-inch vertical and 128-inch broad jump at last year’s East-West Bowl. He’s a perfect fit for an Edmonton team that needs to add more depth in the secondary and covets length and athleticism.

Round Three

19. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Reece Martin, Mount Allison

The six-foot-three, 294-pound defender is oozing with potential and needs the right fit to help take his game to the next level. He made 25 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two knockdowns this past year but should have been more productive against AUS competition.

20. Edmonton Elks — DL Arnold Mbembe, Lincoln

The native of Quebec City had a nomadic collegiate career that included stops at Massachusetts, Laval, and Carleton. He has impressive length at six-foot-five and 243 pounds and moves relatively well for his size, making him a perfect fit for head coach and general manager Chris Jones.

21. Saskatchewan Roughriders — LB Josh White, Regina

The six-foot, 219-pound defender was overshadowed at times this past season by Rams teammate Ryder Varga but was solid in his own right, making 29.5 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks. He’s physical at the point of attack and fills a depth need behind presumed starter Micah Teitz.

22. Calgary Stampeders — OL Dayton Black, Saskatchewan

The native of Brandon, Man. was named a Canada West all-star this past season after taking over the left tackle spot from Noah Zerr, who was a second-round pick of the B.C. Lions in last year’s draft. Black is a former high school quarterback despite now measuring in at six-foot-six and 295 pounds.

23. Edmonton Elks — DL Kwadwo Boahen, Alberta

The six-foot-one, 280-pound defender made 17 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and one knockdown with the Golden Bears this past season and has been rumoured as a potential riser at the CFL Combine. The Calgary native was named an OUA all-rookie in 2018 while playing at York.

Photo courtesy: U Sports

24. Calgary Stampeders — REC Jeremy Murphy, Concordia

The native of St. Bruno, Que. was named a first-team U Sports All-Canadian this past season after making 29 catches for 589 yards and two touchdowns with the Stingers. He fills a depth need for the Stampeders and should be able to contribute on special teams as a rookie.

25. Ottawa Redblacks — OL Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan

The six-foot-five, 323-pound blocker performed very well at the recent NFL Combine, which should cement his status as an NFL player for at least the next year or two. This might seem a little bit early to make a futures pick but this is already Ottawa’s sixth pick in the draft. If any team can afford to roll the dice on Sow, it’s the Redblacks.

26. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — LB Matt Dean, York

The six-foot-one, 220-pound defender was named a second-team OUA all-star this past season after leading the Lions with 47.5 total tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble, and one knockdown. He is arguably the most athletic linebacker in the draft and would bring some youth to Winnipeg’s aging core on special teams.

27. Toronto Argonauts — DB Jaxon Ford, Regina

The Regina native played a hybrid halfback-safety role with the Rams this past season and was named a Canada West all-star and second-team U Sports All-Canadian. He’s fast and physical and would help add some depth behind starting safety Royce Metchie in The Six.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.