John Hodge’s 2024 CFL Mock Draft 2.0

Photo: AP/Tony Tribble

The 2024 CFL Draft is officially under four weeks away, which means it’s time to see how things have changed since the first edition of this mock draft was released last month.

As with all of my mock drafts, this is a combination of informed speculation and personal opinion. Isaiah Adams, Theo Johnson, and Tanner McLachlan aren’t featured as they’re expected to be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, though every other top-ranked CFL prospect makes an appearance.

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 draft day. There could potentially even be a third edition of this mock draft released shortly before the big event on Tuesday, April 30.

This mock draft was made with notes from fellow 3DownNation reporter JC Abbott.

Round One

1. Edmonton Elks — LB Joel Dublanko, Cincinnati

The 26-year-old qualified for the draft last month through his Canadian-born father, who has family in Edmonton, after previously drawing interest from the Ottawa Redblacks as an American player. He impressed scouts at the recent CFL Combine, improving on many of the numbers he put up at his pro day two years ago and made it clear in interviews that he takes the league seriously.

The six-foot-three, 240-pound defender projects as a first-year starter, making him one of few players in the draft who can help the Elks win right away. After back-to-back four-win seasons, he makes perfect sense for a coaching staff that knows they’re going to get fired if the team has another bad season.

Dublanko was named first-team All-AAC and served as a team captain during his senior season with the Bearcats in 2021 and has since been a member of the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, and the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. He can cover sideline to sideline on the CFL’s wide field and feels like a slam dunk at first overall.

2. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Kevin Mital, Laval

The native of Saint-Hubert, Que. answered questions regarding his athleticism at the CFL Combine, running a 4.58-second forty-yard dash and 6.94-second three-cone at six-foot-one and 229 pounds. He also interviewed well, per sources, and didn’t shy away from discussing the guilty plea he entered for an assault charge last year.

On the field, there have never been any questions about the star receiver. Mital had one of the best seasons in U Sports history in 2022 when he made 58 receptions for 751 yards and 12 touchdowns to win the Hec Crighton Trophy and Vanier Cup MVP. He already knows the Canadian game well and uses the waggle effectively, making him a strong candidate to be a day-one starter in Ottawa.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders — LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku, Memphis

The Syracuse transfer may get a shot down south as an undrafted free agent, which would lower his CFL draft stock, though sources have indicated that Cantin-Arku may not have run well enough at his pro day to impress NFL scouts. We’ll know for sure in the coming days when his results are finalized, but it currently seems reasonable to think he could be in a CFL training camp next month.

The native of Lévis, Que. is a perfect fit for a Saskatchewan team that’s likely to start a Canadian at weak-side linebacker. The six-foot-three, 240-pound defender finished his collegiate career with 260 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, five pass knockdowns, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception.

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

4. Calgary Stampeders — OL Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay, Laval

The two-time U Sports All-Canadian was the top tester among offensive linemen at the CFL Combine and dominated in the one-on-ones, taking reps at tackle, guard, and centre. Calgary prioritizes versatility along the offensive line as Bryce Bell, who is expected to take over from Ryan Sceviour at right guard, played all across the unit in 2023.

The native of Rimouski, Que. is available right now, unlike most of the top offensive linemen in this year’s draft who are expected to sign NFL contracts. For a team that needs help along the offensive line immediately, Dumoulin-Duguay makes a ton of sense.

5. Toronto Argonauts (via Hamilton) — REC Nick Mardner, Auburn

The Argonauts are in a good position to take the best player available with this pick and it’d be tough to pass on Mardner, who has an exceptional frame at six-foot-six and 205 pounds. He ran a solid 4.52-second forty-yard dash at his recent pro day and boasts a rare combination of size and explosiveness.

The native of Oakville, Ont. didn’t produce much during one-year stints at Auburn and the University of Cincinnati, though he caught 46 passes for 913 yards and five touchdowns during his junior season at the University of Hawai’i in 2021. Toronto still has a solid stable of homegrown targets but with Kurleigh Gittens Jr. in Edmonton, adding a player like Mardner would make it easy to continue starting two Canadian receivers into the future.

6. B.C. Lions — OL George Una, Windsor

The six-foot-two, 302-pound blocker was a standout at the CFL Combine and seems like a perfect fit for B.C. as a rare offensive lineman who prefers pass blocking. Una has game experience at tackle and guard and also took reps at centre at the talent showcase in Winnipeg, showing impressive versatility. He’s also a high-character player, helping the Lancers work their way out of the basement of the OUA.

The Lions haven’t used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman since 2018, which has hurt their pass protection and ability to run the ball. Whether it’s Una or another blocker up front, B.C. should use this pick to address their biggest positional need heading into a critical season during which Vancouver will host the Grey Cup.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Toronto) — DL Daniel Okpoko, San Diego State

The Ted Laurent era is officially over in Steeltown, leaving a void along the line of scrimmage. Okpoko didn’t play much over his first three seasons with the Aztecs but made 32 total tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and three pass knockdowns over the past two years, catching the attention of CFL scouts.

The six-foot-five, 275-pound defender has the length to play defensive tackle and defensive end, making him a nice fit for a team that could start Mason Bennett off the edge. New general manager Ed Hervey believes in building along the line of scrimmage and the Saskatoon native is arguably the best defensive lineman available who will be in a CFL training camp next month.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — OL Kyle Hergel, Boston College

Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay and George Una would be great fits for Winnipeg here, though the team could roll the dice with Hergel if both offensive linemen are already off the board. Hergel will likely be in an NFL training camp next season, though the Blue Bombers recently had success with a futures pick in 2021 when they drafted Liam Dobson, a college teammate of Hergel’s at Texas State.

The six-foot-three, 302-pound blocker lacks prototypical NFL size but was one of the highest-graded guards in all of college football over the past five seasons according to Pro Football Focus. The Toronto native has also practiced extensively at the centre position, which is where he’ll have to suit up in the NFL due to his height. If he ever reports to Bomberland, Hergel projects as a perennial all-star guard in the CFL.

9. Montreal Alouettes — OL Christy Nkanu, Washington State

With some aging players along the offensive line and no second-round pick in this year’s draft, the Alouettes likely have to take a blocker with this pick. Fortunately for them, there’s still an offensive lineman available with experience at tackle and guard, which makes sense for a Montreal team that’s recently started a Canadian at right tackle.

The converted defensive lineman didn’t play much after transferring to the Cougars for his final year of NCAA eligibility but started eight games at tackle and guard during his redshirt junior season at Southern Utah in 2022. He lacks prototypical size at six-foot-two and 309 pounds but still has a high ceiling, which seems optimal for a team that won’t need to force Nkanu into action right away.

Round Two

10. Edmonton Elks — DB Benjamin Labrosse, McGill

The six-foot-two, 205-pound defender didn’t play this past season but was a first-team U Sports All-Canadian at cornerback with the Redbirds in 2022, demonstrating a rare combination of size and athleticism. Labrosse excelled on special teams at the start of his collegiate career at Syracuse University and could develop into a CFL starter at cornerback or safety, which would address an area of need in Edmonton.

Photo: UConn Athletics

11. Ottawa Redblacks — REC Kevens Clercius, Connecticut

The Montreal native was never a focal point in the Huskies’ offensive attack but shone as a blocker, which should allow him to contribute immediately on special teams at the CFL level. Clercius boasts strong athleticism for his six-foot-two, 215-pound frame, making him a versatile weapon who could potentially start in Ottawa’s receiving corps down the line.

12. Saskatchewan Roughriders — DL Luke Brubacher, Wilfrid Laurier

The converted boxer is arguably the best athlete available in the entire draft, running a 4.69-second forty-yard dash and leaping 38 inches in the vertical jump at the CFL Combine at six-foot-five and 246 pounds. Brubacher makes perfect sense for a team that drafted Lake Korte-Moore last year and could look to start a Canadian defensive end in the future. In the meantime, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for opponents on special teams.

13. Calgary Stampeders — DL Tyson Hergott, Waterloo

The six-foot-two, 246-pound edge rusher made 53 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and three forced fumbles with the Warriors this past year, earning the OUA’s nomination for the J. P. Metras Trophy. Though he lacks the length of some other pass rushers available in this year’s draft, he’s proven that he can get after the passer, which is something the Stampeders need after losing Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund in free agency.

14. Calgary Stampeders (via Hamilton) — DB Christophe Beaulieu, Laval

The six-foot-two, 198-pound defender meets an immediate need for the Stampeders on special teams and projects as a potential long-term starter at safety. The two-time U Sports All-Canadian ran a solid 4.66-second forty-yard dash at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg and showed explosiveness with a 125-inch broad jump. He is also the younger brother of former CFL defensive back Jordan Beaulieu.

15. B.C. Lions — REC Dhel Duncan-Busby, Bemidji State

The Lions appear set to start two Canadian receivers in 2024, which means they’ll need to upgrade their depth behind Jevon Cottoy and Justin McInnis. The two-time first-team All-NSIC selection has the size B.C. covets at six-foot-three and 210 pounds and was highly productive over four seasons with the Beavers, making 171 receptions for 2,839 yards and 27 touchdowns. Duncan-Busby was born in Vancouver but raised primarily in Toronto.

16. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Toronto) — OL Gabe Wallace, Buffalo

The six-foot-six, 344-pound blocker played left tackle this past season but projects as a CFL guard, which is where he spent most of his collegiate career with the Bulls. The native of Salmon Arm, B.C. lacks elite footspeed but should be able to improve his mobility by dropping some weight at the professional level. For a team looking to set a physical tone along the line of scrimmage, Wallace is a perfect fit.

17. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — RB/FB Michael Chris-Ike, Delaware State

At six-foot-two and 225 pounds, the Hamilton native has the size and special teams experience to fill Winnipeg’s glaring need at fullback while also potentially developing into a solid running back behind local star Brady Oliveira. Chris-Ike carried the ball 114 times for 486 yards and three touchdowns with the Hornets, averaging 4.3 yards per carry in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

18. Edmonton Elks (via Montreal) — OL John Bosse, Calgary

The Elks covet length and there are few prospects in CFL history with more than Bosse, who has extraordinarily long arms at 36.5 inches. The two-year starter played guard and tackle with the Dinos but hasn’t played all that much football, making him a long-term project who has the potential to start at tackle someday in the CFL.

19. B.C. Lions — OL Theo Benedet, UBC

The Vancouver native will almost surely get a significant look from the NFL given his rare combination of size and athleticism but this is a bonus pick for the Lions, so it makes sense for the team to roll the dice here. The two-time J. P. Metras Trophy winner projects as a starting offensive tackle in the CFL and has added weight the correct way over his tenure with the Thunderbirds after originally being recruited as a 230-pound tight end.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Emilee Chinn

20. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — LB/DB Melique Straker, Arkansas State

The native of Brampton, Ont. was highly productive over three seasons with the Red Wolves, making 216 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, four pass knockdowns, two interceptions, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Though his pro day numbers were somewhat disappointing, Straker looks faster on film than his testing numbers suggest and would be the perfect complement to starting strong-side linebacker Redha Kramdi.

Round Three

21. Edmonton Elks — LB D.K. Bonhomme, South Alabama

The Ottawa native wasn’t overly productive over stints at Indiana University and South Alabama but oozes athleticism, leaping a 37-inch vertical jump at the CFL Combine despite not playing last year. The six-foot-one, 225-pound defender should contribute in a number of ways at the CFL level, rotating at linebacker, rushing the passer, and filling a core special teams role.

22. Ottawa Redblacks — DL Justin Sambu, Baylor

The six-foot-four, 285-pound defender would solidify Ottawa’s depth behind ten-year veteran Cleyon Laing, who will turn 34 in November. The Calgary native played sparingly with the Bears this past season but was productive at the University of Maine prior to transferring, recording 59 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery over 28 games.

23. Saskatchewan Roughriders — REC Frédérik Antoine, Laval

The Quebec City native started his collegiate career at Old Dominion University but transferred back home after suffering a torn ACL in 2021. Antoine didn’t post eye-popping numbers with the Rouge et Or, though that’s partially due to the dominance of teammate Kevin Mital. The six-foot-one, 213-pound has tremendous speed and would help flesh out Saskatchewan’s depth behind their three projected Canadian starters.

24. Toronto Argonauts (via Hamilton via Calgary) — DL Kail Dava, Tennessee Tech

The Mississauga, Ont. native won’t be available until he fully recovers from a torn rotator cuff he suffered last season but could develop into an impactful interior defender. The six-foot-three, 281-pounder was named an FCS Freshman All-American back in 2019 and finished his tenure with the Eagles with 87 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, one pass knockdown, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.

25. Toronto Argonauts (via Hamilton) — OL Giovanni Manu, UBC

The native of Pitt Meadows, B.C. will likely be in the NFL for the foreseeable future after lighting it up at his pro day at six-foot-seven and 352 pounds. Though the team may never be able to sign him, the Argonauts can afford to take a risk here given that they have three third-round picks and no immediate needs. If Manu ever plays in the CFL, he projects as a dominant guard with the potential to start at tackle.

Courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Huskies Athletics

26. B.C. Lions — LB Nick Wiebe, Saskatchewan

The first-team U Sports All-Canadian shone with the Huskies after originally committing to the University of Oregon, though he’s currently recovering from a torn ACL. It’s Grey Cup or bust for the Lions in 2024, which means adding a player like Wiebe might be wise as he’s expected to return to the lineup sometime around Labour Day, potentially helping B.C. make a late-season push ahead of a championship run.

27. Toronto Argonauts — OL Anim Dankwah, Howard

The first-team All-MEAC selection earned an invitation to the NFL Combine and was the largest offensive lineman in attendance at six-foot-eight and 365 pounds. Though he’ll likely sign an NFL contract based on his size alone, Dankwah will need to shed weight if he hopes to start at offensive tackle in the CFL.

28. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — LB Daniel Bell, Mount Allison

The four-time AUS all-star played in the secondary with the Mounties but projects as a weak-side linebacker in the CFL. The native of Saint John, N.B. has a wealth of special teams experience and has known Winnipeg special teams coordinator Mike Miller for a few years since they met at an awards dinner. Bell might never start in the CFL but he’d be a solid replacement for Jesse Briggs, who retired earlier this off-season.

29. Montreal Alouettes — DB Kaylyn St-Cyr, Montreal

The two-time U Sports All-Canadian played cornerback for the Carabins but projects as a CFL safety, providing the Alouettes with some much-needed depth behind all-star Marc-Antoine Dequoy. It’s no secret that general manager Danny Maciocia loves drafting players out of his former program, making St-Cyr the perfect fit for the reigning Grey Cup champs.

Round Four

30. Edmonton Elks — OL Daniel Johnson, Purdue

The six-foot-six, 330-pound blocker fought injuries for much of his collegiate career but has quick feet and the ability to make blocks at the second level. Though he could move to guard at the professional level, the native of London, Ont. is a good candidate to develop into a ratio-breaking offensive tackle, making him a nice fit for an Edmonton team that plans to start four Canadian offensive linemen this season.

31. Edmonton Elks (via Ottawa) — DL Jason Janvier-Messier, York

The six-foot-two, 232-pound defender played only 15 games for the lowly Lions as he missed most of the 2023 season due to injury, though he bends well enough that he could contribute as a pass-rusher in Edmonton as part of a rotation they’ve developed over the past two seasons. The native of Beloeil, Que. also has value as a special teams player.

32. Saskatchewan Roughriders — LB Dawson Pierre, Concordia

The former RSEQ all-star played safety with the Stingers but will likely move into the box at the professional level as a weak-side linebacker and special teams player. The six-foot-two, 219-pound native of Longueuil, Que. ran a solid 4.77-second forty-yard dash at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg and should help improve Saskatchewan’s depth behind likely starter Adam Auclair.

Photo: Rich Lam/UBC Athletics

33. Calgary Stampeders — FB Brad Hladik, UBC

The younger brother of B.C. Lions’ linebacker Ben Hladik finds himself with a West Division rival where he’ll compete on special teams while developing into the club’s long snapper of the future. Aaron Crawford will turn 38 in September and, while he’s still capable of getting the job done, the Stampeders would be wise to start planning for when his career inevitably comes to a close.

34. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — LB Olivier Muembi, Queen’s

The six-foot, 226-pound defender transferred to the Golden Gaels after starting his collegiate career at Delaware State and made 50 total tackles this past season in the OUA. Muembi tested well at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg and projects as a solid special teams player who can also rotate on defence.

35. Ottawa Redblacks (via Hamilton) — DL Micah Roane, South Dakota

The six-foot-four, 255-pound defender was recently added to this year’s draft class after qualifying for Canadian citizenship through his mother, who was born in Moose Jaw, Sask. Roane has the potential to play inside as a defensive tackle, though he mostly rushed off the edge with the Coyotes.

36. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via Toronto) — DB Arthur Hamlin, Colgate

The Ottawa native would fit nicely behind Stavros Katsantonis on Hamilton’s depth chart where the club currently lacks depth at safety. The five-foot-eleven, 186-pound defender overcame blood cancer while playing at the collegiate level and has strong football lineage as his grandfather, Howard, his father, Geof, his uncle, Howard Jr., and his brother, Nate, have all previously played in the CFL.

37. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — REC Ezechiel Tieide, Concordia

The native of Lachine, Que. was converted to defensive back at Boston College after playing quarterback in high school but was later moved to receiver, contributing mostly on special teams. Tieide has nice size at six-foot-two and 205 pounds and though his straight-line speed isn’t elite, he’s shown impressive quickness in space, which should help his development as a route-runner.

38. Montreal Alouettes — LB Zach Philion, Concordia

The six-foot-one, 221-pound defender projects as a CFL special teams player after running a solid 4.80-second forty-yard dash at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg. The native of Lorraine, Que. is the son of four-time East Division all-star defensive lineman Ed Philion, who spent eight seasons with the Alouettes.

Editor’s note: a fourth-round pick was changed after the initial publishing of this article to account for a trade.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.