Breaking down the Toronto Argonauts’ 2023 CFL Draft

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On Tuesday, the Toronto Argonauts selected eight players in the 2023 CFL Draft. Unlike the other eight teams, the defending Grey Cup champions didn’t have immediate needs or glaring holes on their roster. They could legitimately take the best player available in every single round, though that doesn’t mean I agreed with every pick.

Here is my take on each of Toronto’s selections, and who I would have taken instead.

Round 2, 16th overall — Jared Wayne, REC, Pittsburgh

Left without a first-round pick due to their earlier trade with the B.C. Lions for linebacker Jordan Williams, the Argos had to sit tight while many of the draft’s best players flew off the board. The one positional group that wasn’t getting raided early on was receiver, with only Northern Illinois’ Cole Tucker going to the Calgary Stampeders with the fourth overall selection.

I think Jared Wayne is the best receiver in this draft class, but the risk associated with picking him is that he may never make his way north. The Peterborough, Ont. native was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans and the amount of money he was given suggests he’ll stick in the NFL for a year at the very least.

Toronto has the flexibility to wait for Wayne but with other talented receivers available like Guelph’s Clark Barnes and Concordia’s Jeremy Murphy, was this too big a risk? If he does end up in the CFL, the Argonauts will have landed a large target who can line up anywhere in the receiving corps. He’s a disciplined route-runner and a tough, physical receiver who thrives in contested catch situations.

I would have selected: Clark Barnes, REC, Guelph — The position was correct and I love Jared Wayne, but Barnes is an excellent prospect who will definitely play in the CFL this season.

Round 3, 27th overall — Adam Guillemette, LS, Holy Cross

Long-snapper Max Latour is still under contract with the Argonauts but he wasn’t this coaching staff’s top choice. He was simply available when Jake Reinhart suffered what turned out to be a career-ending injury.

Latour gets the job done, but there’s a reason he was available in the middle of the season. Guillemette’s snaps are absolute bullets and he is an immediate upgrade at the position with a chance to become the best long-snapper in the league. There were only two long snappers worth looking at for the Argos, and the other one, UBC’s Luke Burton-Krahn, was selected four picks earlier by the Edmonton Elks.

I would have selected: Adam Guillemette, LS, Holy Cross — He’s the best long-snapper in the draft and an immediate roster upgrade.

Round 4, 36th overall — Spencer Nichols, FB, Western

The retirement of veteran fullback Declan Cross created a void at this position and while Toronto signed Mario Villamizar early in free agency, he wasn’t a starter in B.C.

Nichols is a hard-hitting run-blocker who generally lined up as an H-back at Western. He’ll likely be more of a special teams contributor this season but could be the long-term replacement for Cross if he gets the opportunity to work on his hands.

I would have selected: Daniel Perry, REC, Saskatchewan — Perry went a pick later to Ottawa and I had a second-round grade on him. I believe Nichols would have been available in the next round.

Round 5, 45th overall — Edouard Paradis, OL, Houston Christian

There’s some uncertainty heading into this season as to where Ryan Hunter will line up. He was Toronto’s left guard at the end of last season, but he was a good tackle at Bowling Green and could potentially beat out Isiah Cage and Trevon Tate at that spot in camp. Paradis played both guard positions in his last two years at Houston Christian and could immediately challenge second-year player Gregor Mackellar at guard.

I would have selected: Edouard Paradis, OL, Houston Christian — The Argos got it right again. I had Paradis ranked as my 23rd-best overall prospect, so to get him here at the end of the fifth round is a steal.

Round 6, 47th overall — Richard Burton, REC, Queen’s

Burton had a great 2022 season at Queen’s with 51 receptions for 851 yards and a touchdown. His play speed looks fast on film, but he didn’t time as well at the Combine as I thought he would. Burton has great toughness and physicality and will make this roster as a special teams contributor, but he will struggle to see meaningful playing time as a receiver.

I would have selected: Sebastian Howard, TE, Saint Mary’s — I had Howard as my 28th-ranked prospect and he’s a more skilled version of Spencer Nichols.

Round 6, 54th overall — Ife Onyemenam, LB, Wilfrid Laurier

Teams aren’t generally looking for positional players late in the draft and Onyemenam isn’t that. He’s a step too slow to play weak-side linebacker and too small to play in the middle, but he could be a special teams ace.

At the CFL Combine, I was impressed with Onyemenam’s ability to chase, gain leverage, and block would-be tacklers during punt return drills. This is a skill Toronto was entirely without in 2022. I think Onyemenam will dress this season for the Argos simply for his ability on special teams.

I would have selected: Ife Onyemenam, LB, Wilfrid Laurier

Round 7, 63rd overall — Brendan Murphy, DB, Western

This could end up being the steal of the draft. Murphy was a talented and hard-hitting halfback and safety at Western after transferring from Guelph. He didn’t test at the combine due to a torn ACL which required surgery. He may not be back at all this season, and if he is, he won’t be at 100 percent. However, the Argos don’t require his services until 2024 when they have some decisions to make in the secondary.

I would have selected: Tavius Robinson, DL, Mississippi — Brendan Murphy is a better pick, but I forgot all about him due to his injury. Robinson was selected in the NFL Draft but would be worth a gamble this late in the CFL Draft.

Round 8, 72nd overall — Anthony Vandal, OL, Sherbrooke

Vandal has a lot of skins on the wall as a three-time all-star in the RSEQ, but they were all earned at the tackle position. He has a chance to potentially play guard or center in the CFL, but he’s at least a year away from being competitive. With Edouard Paradis already in the fold and a number of highly-drafted OL holding onto backup spots, I’m not sure there’s a place for Vandal on this roster.

I would have selected: Eric Colonna, S, Queen’s — Colonna will win the coaches over at whichever camp to which he receives an invite. He’s a smart player who hits like a truck and could contribute immediately on special teams while learning the safety role.

Ben Grant is the radio colour analyst for the Toronto Argonauts. He has been coaching high school and semi-pro football for 20 years.