The East-West Bowl, Combine and NFL Draft are now in the rear-view mirror – the CFL Draft is here.
The 2016 CFL Draft is tremendously top-heavy and will boast many, many future starters in this league. While depth is lacking, don’t be surprised if there’s a few late-round steals waiting to be uncovered.
Pending a big draft-day trade – looking at you, Saskatchewan – this will be my final mock draft of the year. Please keep in mind that this how I think the draft will unfold, not necessarily who I’d pick if I were GM.
Note: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers forfeited their 1st-round pick to select Garrett Waggoner in the 2015 supplemental draft
Note: The Calgary Stampeders forfeited their seventh-round pick to select Brandon Tett in the 2015 supplemental draft.
1:1 Saskatchewan Roughriders – RT Josiah St. John, Oklahoma
Although he’ll likely start his career at guard, St. John has the potential to develop into a starting tackle in the CFL. The Riders, who could make a draft-day trade out of this pick, would be swinging for the fences by taking St. John rather than the safer pick, Charles Vaillancourt. But with the way Saskatchewan’s offensive line is currently situated, they’d bode well with a Canadian at right tackle in the future.
1:2 Montreal Alouettes – RG Charles Vaillancourt, Laval
Although Montreal can afford to draft a skill-position player here, Vaillancourt is likely too good of a prospect to pass on. Montreal currently has 10 offensive lineman under contract, but a handful are free agents at the end of the year. Their veteran centres, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain and Dom Picard, are ages 33 and 35, respectively. The addition of the most pro-ready offensive lineman in the draft will allow Montreal to cut ties with some veterans at season’s end, or sooner.
1:3 BC Lions – C Michael Couture, SFU
Although I don’t think Couture is worthy of a top-3 pick, it’s unlikely the BC Lions allow this local product out of the province. The Lions are starving for help at centre, as they had to start an American in Jason Foster at the position last year, which is currently occupied by 36-year-old veteran Tim O’Neill. Couture offers tremendous versatility – he played centre, left guard and right tackle with Simon Fraser – and has great feet in pass protection, but is still a couple years away from being pro-ready. It will be, however, a couple years before he’ll be ready to contribute.
1:4 Toronto Argonauts – LB Alex Singleton, Montana State
This would be a slam-dunk pick for the Argos, who could start two Canadian linebackers this year in Thomas Miles and Cory Greenwood, who’s now 30-years-old and is coming off multiple concussions last year. Singleton, who recently earned his Canadian citizenship after bouncing around NFL teams in 2015, is a pro-ready linebacker with tremendous size, athleticism, awareness and tackling abilities. With 2015 1st-round pick Sean McEwen in the pipeline, the Argos can afford to pass on an offensive lineman here.
1:5 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – DB Taylor Loffler, UBC
The ‘Cats would be drafting for positional need with this pick, but it’s hardly a reach with Loffler in the top-5. Hamilton recently lost Craig Butler to a season-ending injury, and it just so happens that Loffler – the most pro-ready CIS defender in the draft class – is a very similar player to the established, CFL All-Star safety. Loffler (6’3″, 218-lbs) is a natural safety but has the size and man-coverage abilities to play SAM linebacker as well, similarly to Butler. His knees could potentially scare some teams, as he’s already torn his ACL twice during his time at NCAA Divison I school Boise State.
1:6 Calgary Stampeders – LG Philippe Gagnon, Laval
No team keeps their cupboard of Canadian offensive lineman as well-stocked as the Stampeders. Gagnon is a blue-chip offensive lineman who’s not far behind the level of St. John and Vaillancourt. He’s a mauler in the run-game, and possesses even quicker feet than his teammate, Charles Vaillancourt. With Pierre Lavertu in a contract year, the Stamps, who typically don’t keep their offensive lineman for more than one or two contracts, would be drafting a future starter in Gagnon, and a Laval product in the first round two years in a row.
1:7 Ottawa REDBLACKS – DE Trent Corney, Virginia
Corney is easily the best player available here, and defensive end just so happens to be a position of need in Ottawa, with newly-acquired Arnaud Gascon-Nadon potentially starting this season. Corney, who was one of the most athletic defensive ends available in the NFL draft, went undrafted down south, and wasn’t even offered a priority free agent contract to the surprise of many. Corney has the potential to be an elite pass-rusher in this league, with great burst off the line, good shoulder turn and flexibility to turn the corner on speed-rushes, good hands and an understanding of using leverage. He could contribute in years one and two as a rotational, second-and-long pass-rusher.
1:8 Edmonton Eskimos – RT Jason Lauzon-Seguin, Laval
There’s not really any skill-position player either fits in with Edmonton or is worthy of the eighth pick. Lauzon-Seguin, with tremendously quick feet, has the potential to develop into a starting right tackle, a position that could soon be occupied in Edmonton by a Canadian in future seasons. (Both Matt O’Donnell and Danny Groulx have experience and the ability to kick out and play as book-ends). There could be a make-over along Edmonton’s offensive line in the next year or so, as Simon Rottier and Justin Sorensen are both pending free agents, and Alex Krausnick should be released in training camp.
2:1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – RB Mercer Timmis, Calgary
Winnipeg will undoubtedly use one of their two back-to-back picks on an offensive lineman, but would fill another need with the addition of Timmis. Newly-signed running back Pascal Lochard doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as Andrew Harris’ Canadian backup, and Timmis is an immediate upgrade that has the potential to replace Harris as the starter in the future.
RELATED: Scouting Report: Mercer Timmis
2:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – C Brandon Revenberg, GVSU
The Bombers currently only have four Canadian offensive linemen under contract, making this pick inevitable. Revenberg, a versatile player with experience at centre and guard, plays with tremendous pad-level, is quick out of his stance and has good feet. Size remains a question mark, however, as he’ll need to have bulked up over the winter.
2:3 Montreal Alouettes – WR Llevi Noel, Toronto
While Noel might not have have quite as much potential as other draft-eligible receivers on offense, what separates the former Varsity Blue star from the rest is his abilities on special-teams. The Toronto, ON. product was a dominate special-teams player in the amateur ranks, contributing in the 2015 season as a returner – he had a punt return TD, kickoff return TD and missed field goal return TD in 5 games – and as a gunner on the punt team, demonstrating great open-field tackling skills for an offensive player. Offensively, Noel has good size (6’1″, 202-lbs) and crafty route-running abilities.
2:4 BC Lions – S Anthony Thompson, Southern Illinois
Since the departure of J.R. Larose – but really since retirement of Barron Miles – the free safety position has been a revolving door and a position of weakness in BC. In-season addition Eric Fraser should not be seen as the solution. Several people seem to view the athletic, hard-hitting defensive back from Southern Illinois University as the top free safety in the draft, and while I’d strongly disagree, Thompson has some intriguing physical abilities – just don’t ask him to match up one-on-one on a receiver.
2:5 Toronto Argonauts – WR Juwan Brescacin, Northern Illinois
The Argos’ Canadian depth at receiver is quite thin, as really only Anthony Coombs and Kevin Bradfield are behind 34-year-old Andre Durie, who’s in the tail-end of his career. Brescacin, a similar-type player as Tori Gurley, was a consistent contributor for Northern Illinois. He has the makings of a future field-side wide-out, with a large frame (6’4″, 230-lbs) that he uses to box out defenders to win contested catches, and solid footwork that allows him to run crisp routes.
2:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – RG Dillon Guy, Buffalo
It’s unlikely that Mathieu Girard, Everton Williams and Landon Rice – though a decent backup – is nearly enough depth to make the Ti-Cats’ management even hesitate before spending an early round pick on an offensive lineman. Guy, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, played high-level competition at Buffalo and was a four-year starter, but it’s hard to overlook some of his technical flaws. The Hamilton native has ideal size but also lacks some key physical traits, looking slow out of stance and lacking agility and balance.
2:7 Calgary Stampeders – NT Rupert Butcher, Western
Butcher’s dominant combine performance may have vaulted him into the top-20, and with Calgary’s excellent Canadian depth everywhere except at the interior defensive line positions, the fit is natural. Junior Turner is expected to miss the start of the season, and while the CFL draft is seldom used for immediate, short-term solutions, the Stamps will need another body with a Canadian passport, and Butcher would hardly be a reach if his combine showing holds value.
2:8 Ottawa REDBLACKS – LB Terrell Davis, UBC
Davis, with only one season of experience at linebacker under his belt after an extended career as a running back with both Arizona State and UBC, is one of the best developmental players in the draft. Davis has ideal size (6’0″, 222-lbs) and is quite athletic, but is still fairly raw – and that’s not at all a bad thing. Davis’ ceiling is high, and while he projects best as a WILL linebacker, don’t be surprised at all if, in time, he’s deployed as a SAM linebacker to provide depth behind Antoine Pruneau.
2:9 Edmonton Eskimos – DB Elie Bouka, Calgary
Edmonton wouldn’t have won the Grey Cup if they didn’t have good Canadian content on their roster. Instead of reaching for a linebacker, the Eskimos can afford to invest in a futures pick, and while Bouka will likely spend the entire NFL season down south, he could be CFL-bound as soon as training camp 2017.
3:1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – K/P Quinn Van Gylswyk, UBC
The ‘Cats have yet to sign a single kicker or punter since the departure of Justin Medlock in free agency, and Van Gylswyk would immediately fill that void. The CIS has produced some tremendous kickers in recent years, but the UBC product, who’s game-winning field goal clinched the Vanier Cup this year for the Thunderbirds, could be the best one in a long time.
3:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – WR Brian Jones, Acadia
Jones recently suffered a broken scaphoid, an injury that has a 2-3 month recovery timeline but can often hinder a player for a long time afterwards. In my eyes, though, Jones’ plummet into the third-round doesn’t have too much to do with his injury – I’m not exactly sold on the Acadia product’s potential to develop into an effective receiver.
3:3 Montreal Alouettes – DE Mehdi Abdesmad, Boston College
Jim Popp’s futures picks have paid off recently, as Philip Blake and Vaughn Martin are now both Alouettes after careers in the NFL. Abdesmad inked a priority free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t anticipate him spending more than a season down south. I’d project the Montreal, QC. native as more of a defensive tackle in the CFL, however, as the yard off the ball could really affect his ability to turn the corner on pass-rushes before being washed out of the play.
3:4 BC Lions – WR Brett Blaszko, Calgary
With Austin Collie now retired, the Lions, who could start two Canadian receivers to comply the ratio, are starving for non-import pass-catchers. Blaszko has a rare combination of size and speed – he’s 6-foot-4, and ran a 4.55 40-yard dash – and was a solid touchdown producer with the Dinos.
3:5 Toronto Argonauts – CB Arjen Colquhoun, Michigan State
The Argos may have to wait a couple of seasons before Colquhoun comes north – he signed a priority free agent contract with the Detroit Lions – but have good enough depth throughout the roster to invest a third-round pick in a player that will be an instant ratio-breaking starter when he comes North.
3:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – WR Mike Jones, Southern
Hamilton will surely invest an early-round pick in a receiver, as they’ll start two Canadians at receiver this year and only really have Matt Coates as depth. The logical pick would be Doug Corby, a Burlington kid, but I think Jones has the best chance of any receiver in the draft not named Tevaun Smith to develop into a starting receiver.
3:7 Saskatchewan Roughriders – LB DJ Lalama, Manitoba
The Riders only have one Canadian linebacker on the roster – second-year player Nehemie Kankolongo – and will surely look to add at least one more after Lalama, who’s play on special-teams with the Bisons has him looking like a potential anchor on the ‘teams for the Riders in coming years.
3:8 Ottawa REDBLACKS -NT Quinn Horton, SFU
Ottawa needs to add depth behind Zach Evans, who’ll start in place of the departed Keith Shologan this season. Horton has a lot of great traits – he’s quick, agile and good with his hands – but it could all be good for not if he doesn’t improve his pad-level.
3:9 Saskatchewan Roughriders – SB Felix Faubert-Lussier, Laval
Chris Jones and Stephen McAdoo evidently prefer tall receivers, and while Faubert-Lussier is only six-feet, he could become an excellent pass-catching fullback, and also has the athleticism and decent-enough route-running to be a depth slot-back in the future.
4:1 Toronto Argonauts – DB Mikael Charland, Concordia
The Argos need to beef up their depth behind starting safety Jermaine Gabriel. Charland, who has excellent size at 6-foot-3 and 212-lbs, can play multiple positions, and could become a serviceable special-teams player with his speed and open-field tackling abilities.
4:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – RG Sean Jamieson, Western
The Bombers must continue to stock Canadian offensive linemen in their cupboard. Jamieson is a monster at 6-foot-6 and 306-lbs, and just so happens to be a Winnipeg native.
4:3 Montreal Alouettes – LB Michael Langlais, Laval
Langlais could have – and could still be – a top-20 pick had a torn ACL not sidelined him for the duration for of the 2015 season. He clocked a 4.55 40-yard dash at the East-West Bowl and has a lot of upside on special-teams.
4:4 BC Lions – SB Doug Corby, Queens
The Lions will need to add another pass-catcher even after drafting Blaszko, and it just so happens that Corby is also the best player available. The Burlington, ON. native reminds me a lot of Anthony Parker, and could return kicks before he can attempt to crack the starting lineup down the road.
4:5 Toronto Argonauts – DE Michael Kashak, McMaster
Ricky Foley is the only Canadian defensive end on the Argos, and that needs to change. Kashak’s an explosive player and could be effective setting the edge as a run-defender, but seems too stiff to settle in as a pass-rusher.
4:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – WR Tevaun Smith, Iowa
The ‘Cats are in a good position to gamble on a futures pick, even if their not known for taking NFL-bound prospects. Smith could spend a couple years down south before coming to Canada, but the ‘Cats could be getting a star if the Toronto, ON. product can’t stick in the NFL.
4:7 Calgary Stampeders – LB Doug Parrish, Western Oregon
Calgary’s done a great job at continuously drafting and developing Canadian linebackers and defensive backs. Parrish is new to the CFL game, but has great size and looked really good in Combine one-on-ones.
4:8 Ottawa REDBLACKS – Roman Grozman, Concordia
I’ll perhaps never understand the early-round hype surrounding Grozman. Aside from an exceptional punch that shocks defenders and prohibits them from disengaging, his technique is quite undeveloped and his footwork is poor. Quite honestly, I think Grozman is best suited as a defensive tackle.
4:9 Saskatchewan Roughriders – LB Shayne Gauthier, Laval
Gauthier is your traditional, throwback middle linebacker that plays simply off instincts and doesn’t need to be an athletic, quick player. He reads plays well, flows to the ball and meets runners in the hole with authority. He rarely over-pursues and consistently beats oncoming blockers with a plethora of different moves.
5:1 Saskatchewan Roughriders – DB Brennan Van Nistlerooy, Calgary (CJFL)
Van Nistlerooy had an excellent Combine, as the CJFL product ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash and was probably the second best defensive back in one-on-ones. Saskatchewan’s Canadian defensive back corps is quite underwhelming, and Van Nistlerooy could be a late-round gem that makes the active roster this year.
5:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – DE Denzel Philip, Eastern New Mexico
The Bombers only have Louie Richardson as Jamaal Westerman’s Canadian backup since the free agent signing of Ivan Brown didn’t work out. Philip, who was seen as a ‘tweener between a defensive tackle and defensive end before the Combine, dropped significant – and likely too much – weight so he could remain at defensive end, but has little to show for it.
5:3 Calgary Stampeders – WR Shaquille Johnson, Western
Johnson burst onto the scene as a freshman with McGill, eclipsing Andy Fantuz’s CIS record for receptions in a season by a freshman. Since then, he’s taken a crazy path to get to the CFL draft, with stints at Western University and with the London Beefeaters of the CJFL for school issues and family reasons. He can undoubtedly play football, though, and clocked a 4.37 40-yard dash at the Toronto regional combine.
5:4 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – DB Maiko Zepeda, Montreal
Hamilton lost a handful of depth Canadian defensive backs in free agency that they’ll need to replace. Zepeda is only 5-foot-8 and also had a very poor session in the combine one-on-ones, but he clocked a 4.57 40-yard dash at the Montreal Regional Combine and hits like a missile, leading me to believe that he has what it takes to be a special-teamer in this league.
5:5 Toronto Argonauts – DB Nicolas Termanson, UBC
One of the better defensive backs in the Combine one-on-ones, Termanson also recorded a 39.5-inch vertical jump. Termanson can play both safety and corner, supplying the Argos with more depth behind Jermaine Gabriel.
5:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – DE Boyd Richardson, UBC
Richardson gets off the ball fast, displaying quickness and agility as a pass-rusher. But he lacks strength to maintain gap integrity and will get washed out in the pro ranks if he doesn’t get bigger and stronger. He does, fortunately, have a few different pass-rush moves, and possesses the lateral quickness to possibly do some damage on twists, but his sack production with UBC was still poor.
5:7 Calgary Stampeders – DT Donnie Egerter, Guelph
The best thing about Egerter is his ability to perhaps suit up as an offensive lineman, as he seemed adequate in limited reps on offense at the CFL combine. In his natural defensive tackle position, Egerter gets low and has a good bull-rush, but he’s limited athletically and doesn’t have very good hands.
5:8 Ottawa REDBLACKS – RG Zach Intzandt, McMaster
Even after adding Grozman, Ottawa must continue to stockpile young, Canadian offensive line like Montreal has over the years. Intzandt only has one season of experience on the offensive side of the ball, and at six-foot-four and 303-lbs, the potential is there.
5:9 Edmonton Eskimos – DE Daniel Tshiamala, St. FX
Tshiamala, similarly to Deon Lacy, can play both linebacker and defensive end. Despite playing strictly linebacker with the X-Men, Tshiamala lacks lateral quickness, and will probably mainly be a pass-rusher in the CFL.
6:1 Ottawa REDBLACKS – WR Josh Stanford, Kansas
Reports have come out that scouts were disappointing with his attitude at the CFL Combine, but Stanford had a fantastic freshman season with Virginia Tech back in 2013 and looked smooth in the route-running drills at the Combine.
6:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – SB Alex Vitt, Manitoba
The Bombers pass on Western receiver George Johnson for the local product in Vitt, who had 728 yards and 4 TDs last season with the Bisons.
6:3 Montreal Alouettes – LB Marc-Antoine Laurin, Ottawa
Laurin is an athletic linebacker with quite a few technical issues, but he makes for a potential special-teams contributor. Laurin gives the Als another athletic, but less physical linebacker to pair with Nick Shortill as Canadian depth.
6:4 BC Lions – RT Jamal Campbell, York
Campbell, who posted some amazing testing numbers, is loaded on potential but will need several seasons of developing – and a patient organization – to work through his long list of technical flaws.
6:5 Toronto Argonauts – FB Declan Cross, McMaster
Cross did not attend the CFL Combine, but appears to be, far and away, the most complete, smash-mouth fullback in the draft.
6:6 Montreal Alouettes – DB Hunter Turnbull, Calgary
Turnbull had a great season with Calgary, but tested rather poorly at the Edmonton Regional Combine and didn’t earn an invite to the national event. Montreal could look to add another player similar to Chris Ackie with this pick.
6:7 Calgary Stampeders – DT David Onyemata, Manitoba
A fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints, Onyemata may never play a snap in the CFL.
6:8 Saskatchewan Roughriders – LB Mitch Barnett, UBC
Even after picking up Lalama and Gauthier, the Riders must continue to add Canadian linebackers, and Barnett brings a completely different skill-set to the table than the aforementioned.
6:9 Edmonton Eskimos – LB Kevin Jackson, Sam Houston State
Coming from a great program in Sam Houston State, Jackson was poised for a breakout senior campaign until injuries limited him to one game in 2015. He lacks college game film, however, and I’m not sure if his combine performance really satisfied scouts.
7:1 Ottawa REDBLACKS – WR George Johnson, Western
Although Montreal doesn’t need another receiver, Johnson is easily the best player available. A poor-man’s Llevi Noel, Johnson is exciting to watch with the ball in his hands.
7:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – OL Alex McKay, Manitoba
The Bombers add their third local product in the draft with McKay, who’s the best Canada West offensive lineman available in the draft.
7:3 Montreal Alouettes – RB Wayne Moore, McMaster
His 40-yard dash was tremendously disappointing, but Moore was the Combine star of the running backs. His blocking was great, and linebackers had a very difficult time covering him in one-on-ones.
7:4 BC Lions – LB Curtis Newton, Guelph
Newton has tremendous pass-coverage skills, but his lack of size and inability to be a force in the CIS at the point off attack will really limit him in the CFL.
7:5 Toronto Argonauts – RT Kadeem Adams, Western
An injury kept Adams out of the Combine, but he displays good feet and balance on tape, and could compete in training camp next year after returning to school.
7:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – DB Malcolm Brown, Western
Brown ran well at the Combine and seemed slightly more adequate than his teammate, who’s the next player in this mock, in one-on-ones.
7:7 Ottawa REDBLACKS – CB Josh Woodman, Western
Woodman was consistently burnt in the Combine one-on-ones, seemingly abandoning his technique with the pressure of performing in front of scouts.
7:8 Edmonton Eskimos – DE John Biewald, Western
Biewald has refined technique and has good shoulder turn around the edge, but is greatly undersized at 225-pounds, and hasn’t found a way to compensate for that.
8:1 Saskatchewan Roughriders – WR Riley Wilson, Regina
Wilson has the desired size for the ‘Riders at six-foot-three, and just so happens to be a local product.
8:2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – DB Michael Schmidt, Calgary
Schmidt missed most of his fourth season with an injury, but ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at the Edmonton Regional Combine
8:3 Montreal Alouettes – FB Nate O’Halloran, Guelph
O’Halloran was an adequate blocker and pass-catcher for Windsor, appearing to be a very smart player. He’s a stiff athlete, however, and will need more power and quickness to last in this league.
8:4 BC Lions – LB Alex Ogbongbemiga, Calgary (CJFL)
Ogbongbemiba tested well in the vertical and the shuttle at the Edmonton regional, earning himself an invite to the National Combine. A productive, smash-mouth Mike LB with Calgary, Ogbongbemiba recorded 23 tackles, 1 sack and 1 INT in six games last season.
8:5 Toronto Argonauts – FB Donald Tabor, St. FX
Tabor is a proven pass-catcher with the X-men, but needed to prove at the CFL Combine that he could block well enough to play fullback in the CFL and did anything but.
8:6 Hamilton Tiger-Cats – FB Devon Stewart, McGill
The ‘Cats needed to add another body behind C.O. Prime at some point in the draft, but few fullbacks, including Stewart, warranted anything but an eighth-round pick.
8:7 Calgary Stampeders – WR Curtis Carmichael, Queens
The Stamps could be drafting the first eighth-round steal in modern CFL history, as Carmichael was an exceptional deep-threat with Queens and had good production.
8:8 – Ottawa REDBLACKS – DB Chris Frieson, Saskatchewan
Frieson notched 26 tackles and 4 INTs last year with the Huskies, and tested decently well in Edmonton.
8:9 – Edmonton Eskimos – DT Tarique Anderson, Delaware State
Anderson played in the NCAA and was a National Combine invitee, but he lacks size and is far too stiff to contribute at defensive tackle in this league.