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TORONTO — The Saskatchewan Roughriders added a major building block Tuesday night, selecting Oklahoma offensive lineman Josiah St. John with the number one overall pick in the 2016 CFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6, 309-pound tackle from Ajax, Ont. is a potential cornerstone for the Riders, a franchise taken over and rebuilt from the ground up by Chris Jones and his staff this off-season.
Highly touted for his size and ability to play tackle, something few other offensive linemen in the draft can offer, St. John was the fifth-ranked player on the April CFL Scouting Bureau rankings and the top-ranked offensive lineman.
“I’m extremely blessed and happy to go number one overall,” said St. John, “and to a place like Saskatchewan with good tradition also and a really strong fan base.
“I’m really excited to get up there and get started and contribute to this team early and win a championship in Saskatchewan.”
After redshirting his first season at Oklahoma in 2013, St. John played in eight of 13 games his first season in 2014. In 2015 he played seven games and took over the starting right tackle spot on Sept. 12 at Tennessee.
A four-star recruit coming out of high school, he started the next three games for Oklahoma at tackle, increasing his stock as a high-ranked CFL prospect.
Now he’ll look to be the future anchor of the Riders’ O-line.
“Definitely a relief, I’m just ready to be part of a team again and ready get back to being with my teammates,” St. John added. “There’s obviously pressure being number one but I’m not going to worry about it too much. I’m just going to go in there with a chip on my shoulder and perform to the best of my ability and make sure I contribute to that team.
“Everybody I’ve talked to, that’s the first thing they talk about – Saskatchewan has the best fan base. Fans are crazy about the Roughriders and they’re really ecstatic about the game of football. So that was a good thing to hear too.”
The Riders made six picks in all, including a couple of longer-term prospects in the number one-ranked David Onyemata, a defensive end out of Manitoba drafted in the fourth round of the NFL by the New Orleans Saints, and Calgary defensive back Elie Bouka, also currently on an NFL roster.
Jones added high-ranked UBC kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk in the third and in the fourth, Calgary linebacker Alex Ogbongbemiga, who made his way through the Edmonton Regional Combine to earn an invite to the National Combine back in March.
Rounding out the draft for the Riders was sixth round pick and offensive lineman Alex McKay from Manitoba, and in the eighth the highly-talented Joshua Stanford out of Kansas.