John Hodge’s 2023 CFL Mock Draft 2.0

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/John McCoy

The 2023 CFL Draft is finally almost here, which means it’s time for my final mock draft before the real picks start pouring in on Tuesday evening.

Two months have come and gone since my first mock draft, though I’ve not made many significant changes since then. The biggest alterations have come as a result of two top-ranked prospects, Pittsburgh receiver Jared Wayne and Penn State defensive back Jonathan Sutherland, signing with NFL teams following the 2023 NFL Draft.

This mock draft is a combination of informed speculation and personal opinion. Don’t forget to tune into 3DownNation’s live draft show on YouTube tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. EDT where we will break down all 72 picks.

Round One

1. Ottawa Redblacks — 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 is probably the only reason he didn’t get any NFL opportunities. The Redblacks have made their offensive line a priority since their new regime took over the controls and Bull is undoubtedly the best one in this year’s class not currently under contract in the NFL.

2. Edmonton Elks — DL Francis Bemiy, Southern Utah

The Elks could look to trade down from this slot with Bull off the board but Bemiy would be an exceptional consolation prize. 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 would provide depth at defensive end as well as defensive tackle.

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 — OL Phillip Grohovac, Western

Calgary’s offensive line is extremely talented but it doesn’t have much in the way of depth as a few recent draft picks have chosen to move on from football. Grohovac is arguably the most polished of all the U Sports offensive linemen available in this year’s draft and is familiar with the run-heavy, quick-hitting passing attack the Stampeders employ.

5. Montreal Alouettes — REC Cole Tucker, Northern Illinois

Montreal started three Canadian receivers late last season and needs to add a pass-catcher after not retaining Hergy Mayala. Tucker made 155 receptions for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns over five seasons with the Huskies and was a late addition to this year’s draft class as he qualified for Canadian citizenship through his Manitoba-born mother.

Photo courtesy: Jason Scourse/Queen’s Athletics

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — 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 Hamilton with some much-needed youth on an aging offensive line.

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 Als took Tyrell Richards with the first overall pick in last year’s draft and, with veteran linebacker Chris Ackie retiring, Brodrique suddenly fills a position of need.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 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. Though he’s generally played defensive end, Korte-Moore’s power-oriented game and growing frame translates best to playing defensive tackle at the professional level.

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. is one of few CFL teams that have toyed with starting a Canadian cornerback in recent years and Bagayogo is arguably the best cornerback prospect the CFL draft has seen in the last five years.

Round Two

10. Ottawa Redblacks — DB Jonathan Sutherland, Penn State

The Ottawa native is one of the most versatile defenders in this year’s draft, projecting as a CFL safety or strong-side linebacker. He recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted NFL free agent, making it unclear when he will report to his hometown club.

11. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DB Jaxon Ford, Regina

The Regina native played a hybrid halfback-safety role with the Rams this past season and was named a second-team U Sports All-Canadian. He’s fast and physical and the perfect fit for a team that didn’t bring back veteran safety Mike Edem. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the grandson of legendary Saskatchewan Roughriders’ player and general manager Al Ford.

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

12. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Anthony Bennett, Regina

The six-foot-one, 229-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. Bennett would be a nice fit here, adding depth at defensive end where the Redblacks lost free agent Kwaku Boateng.

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 — 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 B.C. picked in last year’s draft. The six-foot-six, 295-pound blocker impressed at the CFL Combine and could have the highest ceiling out of all the U Sports offensive linemen available in this year’s draft.

15. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — DB Lucas Cormier, Mount Allison

The three-time AUS all-star was one of the biggest risers coming out of the CFL Combine, showing the speed and cover skills that could make him a starting safety in the CFL in the future. He made nine interceptions at the collegiate level, which is the most of any defensive back available in this year’s draft.

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 some firepower to their receiving corps behind Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and Barnes fits that need perfectly.

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 should contribute heavily on special teams right away.

Photo courtesy: Don Voaklander/University of Alberta Athletics

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 — 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. Wayne signed with the Houston Texans after going unselected in last week’s NFL draft and received a significant amount of guaranteed money on his deal, meaning it should be at least one full year before he considers signing a CFL contract.

20. Edmonton Elks — DL Aidan John, Saint Mary’s

The Halifax native has played only 15 career U Sports games but crushed the testing at the CFL Combine, recording a 35-inch vertical jump at six-foot-four and 248 pounds. He’s got a raw set of skills but with some time and the right coaching staff, John could be one of the steals of this year’s draft.

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 — 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 and his massive hands would fill a depth need for the Stampeders while also potentially contributing on special teams.

23. Edmonton Elks — DL Noah Curtis, Keiser

The six-foot-six, 279-pound defender was recently added to this year’s draft class after qualifying for Canadian citizenship through his mother. He previously played at Florida International where he made 106 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and three sacks, earning an honourable mention All-Conference USA selection at defensive end in 2018.

24. Calgary Stampeders — 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.

25. Ottawa Redblacks — FB Jacob Mason, McMaster

The six-foot, 222-pound blocker is as physical as they come. There’s not a lot of upside to his game in terms of running and catching the ball but that doesn’t matter: at the professional level, Mason’s job will be to block and make tackles on special teams.

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 — LS Adam Guillemette, Holy Cross

The Argos need a new long snapper and this six-foot, 222-pounder from Cambridge, Ont. is as highly-polished as any snapper you’ll see in the CFL draft. He’s accurate with his delivery and gets quickly into his blocks.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.