BREAKING

Canadian Football Hall of Fame to induct Anthony Calvillo, Kelvin Anderson, Mike O'Shea, Geroy Simon, Stan Schwartz and Brian Towriss in 2017 ... READ MORE.

March 9, 2017

Mock 1.0: Who will the Bombers take first?

University of Idaho

TORONTO — One of the off-season’s marquee events, the CFL Draft is two months away.

A lot can change between now and May 7 when teams will get their pick of the top draft-eligible amateur talent in Canada, but it’s never too early to speculate.

With the CFL Combine presented by adidas fast approaching, CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson takes his first look at how things are shaping up in his Mock Draft 1.0:

ROUND 1

University of Idaho

1. WINNIPEG
MASON WOODS
OL | IDAHO

The Bombers have a ton of national linebacker depth, a standout defensive tackle in Jake Thomas and a home run hitter in the form of second-year free safety Taylor Loffler. All of which make me believe the Blue Bombers should lean offence with the first overall selection.

Offensive line is the right call for Kyle Walters and the Bombers but Winnipeg’s line has Stanley Bryant solidifying the blind side and Justin Senior of Mississippi State hasn’t run away with the right to be taken first overall and turned loose at right tackle.

The next logical step would be to solidify the interior but 2016’s second round selection Michael Couture adds solid depth behind starting centre Matthias Goosen while left guard Travis Bond, fresh off a CFL all-star season in 2016, is backed up by developmental guard from McMaster Zach Intzandt. Calgary Dinos alum Suhk Chung holds down the right guard.

The best case scenario is a tackle with the skills to bounce inside in a moment’s notice. Mason Woods of Idaho fits that bill despite his recent history for the Vandals at guard. His 6-foot-9 frame is the largest in the 2017 CFL draft and at this point I think he rises above the competition with a good showing at the national combine in Regina.

Jeff Miller/Bison Sports

2. SASKATCHEWAN
GEOFF GRAY
OL | MANITOBA

The Riders’ second overall pick will tell you a lot about how highly Chris Jones regards his first Saskatchewan draft class and first overall pick Josiah St. John. With tackle Derek Dennis signed in free agency, Jones and his staff have the chance to solidify protection for the next couple years with this pick.

While prospects such as linebacker Jordan Herdman from Simon Fraser and defensive back Dondre Wright of Henderson State are intriguing, the right call here is to take a mauling interior lineman with the ability to swing from guard to guard and it should come in the shape of Manitoba Bison’s Geoff Gray.

Gray worked over defenders left right and centre at the 2016 East-West Shrine Bowl, putting many of the NCAA’s up and coming 2017 draft class on skates. Gray, a power-lifting specialist at 6-foot-6, 310-pounds, can rotate in with eight-year veteran Brendon Labatte and centre Dan Clark for now until Chris Jones decides to unleash him alongside Dennis.

SFU Athletics

3. BC
JORDAN HERDMAN
LB | SIMON FRASER

I hate to theoretically place a player in their university market. It just feels too damn convenient. With that said, Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman screams of a tackling machine with longevity. After his impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., I’m not sure how BC lets him slide past them at three to weak side linebacker needy teams Edmonton and – eventually – Toronto.

The BC Lions brought in now-former Blue Bombers weak side linebacker Tony Burnett in free agency but aside from special teams ace Jason Arakgi, there isn’t much depth in the Lions’ linebacking core after the departure of Adam Bighill.

Take Herdman. Watch him rack up tackle after tackle like Eskimos linebacker JC Sherritt, put him on posters, trot him out to community events and pat yourself on the back.

Alistair Boulby/McMaster Sports

4. HAMILTON
DANNY VANDERVOORT
SB | MCMASTER

For the last couple of years, everyone has been trying to replace Ticats super slotback Andy Fantuz. I felt it was unfair to Andy and apparently he agreed by having one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2016, until his knee folded under him without contact against Edmonton late in the regular season.The timing of an injury that tedious in nature leaves the Ticats with a bit of a national receiver depth issue. Matt Coates left in free agency for Winnipeg and Giovanni Aprille continues to show flashes but hasn’t become an every down player yet.

Enter Danny Vandervoort. Another Mac grad to the Ticats. Lame right?

Maybe so, but Vandervoort was recruited from Bear Creek Secondary in Barrie, Ont. to Hamilton by then-Marauders head coach, now Ticats offensive coordinator Stefan Ptaszek. Ptaszek taught Danny how to turn speed into route running and jump balls into an art form. I have a hard time believing the two are not meant to work together in a professional football setting with Fantuz in Vandervoort’s ear for every meeting while rehabilitating his knee.

With the recent trade of Frederic Plesius to Montreal for another former Marauder, linebacker Nick Shortill, the Black and Gold could reunite the best players from both McMaster’s 2014 Yates Cup Championship offence and defence.

Bethune-Cookman University

5. EDMONTON
DARIUSZ BLADEK
OL | BETHUNE-COOKMAN

Like many teams, the Eskimos could use help at tackle and they get it at fifth overall in the form of Bethune-Cookman alum Dariusz Bladek. Bladek has only recently explored the possibilities of his national status – his mother was born in Montreal – and would be a wonderful compliment to Matt O’Donnell on the right side or as a depth swing man.

Bladek plays with a serious mean streak and would fit perfectly into the Eskimos ball control, quick passing attack under Jason Maas. Nobody is getting past Bladek before quarterback Mike Reilly can find the laces on a quick out throw.

6. WINNIPEG
ELI ANKOU
DT | UCLA

With no true home run fit for UCLA defensive tackle Eli Ankou in picks two through five, and the Bombers passing him over at first overall in favour of quarterback protection, Winnipeg could add Ankou to the future fold here.

It would give Mike O’Shea the flexibility to play four nationals on defence should the ratio require it, or to supplement Jake Thomas when possible with three Canadians remaining pillars of the defence.

Kha Vo/Laurier Athletics

7. BC
KWAKU BOATENG
DE | LAURIER

In 2015, the BC Lions used their fifth overall pick to select Wilfrid Laurier defensive end Ese Mrabure. Ese has since made his way to Riderville and found a home in Chris Jones’ defensive line rotation.When comparing Ese with Kwaku, a former teammate of both at Laurier told me Kwaku isn’t quite as athletic as Mrabure, but Boateng “just makes it all look so easy — he never gets beat fundamentally”.

Tag that patience and understanding of the game onto Boateng’s exceptional lateral agility and penance for disrupting the pocket and you have yourself a first round pick.

With 2016 pass rush tornado Alex Bazzie gone to the NFL and former Roughriders draft pick from the Western Mustangs Dylan Ainsworth signing in Vancouver, Boateng could find himself in a ratio healthy rotation at the field side end by mid-season.

Yan Doublet/Laval

8. CALGARY
ANTONY AUCLAIR
TE | LAVAL

Dave Dickenson is a dreamer. He loves to be creative and find new ways to approach the game on offence. If the Stampeders take Auclair this high, they might never see him due to NFL opportunities. However, their recent history of reaching for a possible offensive star in Yale running back Tyler Varga seems to suggest Auclair might be in their wheel house.

IF Auclair did come to the CFL and IF he were to become a regular part of the offence, the possibilities would be endless for Bo Levi Mitchell. Supplying a creative play designer and play caller in Dickenson with a multifaceted athlete who can catch, block and run routes with equal excellence would be special. Especially when considering Auclair plays a position rarely prepared for in this era of CFL attacks.

Putting him in an offence already threatening you with a power run game, vertical threat receivers and one of the CFL’s best quick games would be something else to watch.

9. OTTAWA
FAITH EKAKITIE
DL | IOWA

Of all my picks in the first round, this is the one I’m most hesitant about. Last year, Marcel Desjardins and his REDBLACKS staff took an NCAA defensive lineman in Boston College alum and Montreal native Mehdi Abdesmad in hopes he would come to the CFL sooner rather than later.Abdesmad has not yet come back north which could interest Ottawa in stretching for another big name quarterback hunter in Iowa Hawkeyes Faith Ekakitie.

OR, instead, it could push the REDBLACKS towards taking a U Sports player ready to commit themselves to the organization immediately.

 

ROUND 2

David Moll/University of Calgary

1 (10). TORONTO
CONNOR McGOUGH
DL | CALGARY

If Ottawa decides to reach for a player of Ekakitie’s brand in the first round, the Argos should be more than happy to welcome in a plug -and-play specimen from the Calgary Dinos, Connor McGough.

Of the four draft eligible defensive lineman in the 2017 CFL, draft McGough is the one whose skill set and on field demeanour screams “top three rounds.”

My comparable for him is a player with similar edge who snuck onto the Argos roster and I thought made an exceptional yet understated impact last year, 2015 21st overall pick Cam Walker from the University of Guelph.

 Henderson State Athletics

2 (11). SASKATCHEWAN
DONDRE WRIGHT
DB | HENDERSON STATE

Chris Jones loves fast, physical football players. He needs to add ratio flexibility to his secondary and perhaps most important of all, he needs to use his first and second round picks to set a trend of consistently drafting players who can make a difference. Dondre Wright is all of those things.

At 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, the Ajax, Ont. native is exceptional at setting the edge against larger blockers in the run game while having very natural hip movement, which allows him to run with anyone in coverage. I view Wright as a better prospect than any other defensive back due to the way he mixes a heat seeking missile mentality with a cerebral understanding of what he’s trying to accomplish on a play to play basis.

Wright is a bulldog. Just the type of guy Chris Jones loves.

David Moll/University of Calgary

3 (12). MONTREAL
ROBERT WOODSON
DB | CALGARY

I fully expect Robert Woodson to throw down exceptional testing times in the 40-yard dash, three cone drill and anything that requires quickness. Woodson can run with anybody in this draft and has effective special teams film, both aspects that should draw Kavis Reed’s attention.

With longtime Alouettes safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette signing in Saskatchewan during free agency, the depth at a traditionally national position for Montreal has been significantly weakened.

Woodson is likely not the right fit for Noel Thorpe’s blitz crazed Alouettes defence at halfback or corner but he could rotate down low from free safety and man cover as an understudy to CFL veteran Daryl Townsend.

John Byrne/Nevada Athletics

4 (13). HAMILTON
NAKAS ONYEKA
LB | LAURIER

The Tiger-Cats got their future CFL All-Star lineman Brandon Revenberg at third overall last year. I’ve already handed them a national receiver in Danny Vandervoort above, while the return of Craig Butler from a knee injury supplies ratio strength via trickle down effect as Courtney Stephen moves back to wide side corner and Ted Laurent is.. Ted Laurent.

All of this is to say the Ticats don’t need to reach for a sure fire starter at 13th overall. They don’t even need to look for a running back replacement for now Stampeder Anthony Woodson since Mercer Timmis was taken with the 14th pick in the 2016 draft by Eric Tillman and Kent Austin.

The Ticats love to stockpile ratio depth behind perennial playmaker Simoni Lawrence at the weak side linebacker position. Last year they did it with UBC draft picks Mitch Barnett and Terrell Davis as well as free agent Geoff Hughes. After losing Beau Landry to Calgary in free agency, it’s time to go get a playmaker on special teams with a dogged work ethic who could develop into a really nice outside linebacker/halfback hybrid.

Wilfrid Laurier’s energizer bunny Nakas Onyeka fits that mould.

University of Maine Athletics

5 (14). EDMONTON
CHRIS MULUMBA
LB | MAINE

Mulumba would not fit as a direct replacement for Deon Lacey, who tore up opposing offences for the last two years, and he surely would not supplant JC Sherritt at middle linebacker, but he is the type of piece you need in order to grow.

Give Defensive Coordinator Mike Benevides this fast, physical downhill striking linebacker and see where it goes.

 Carleton University

6 (15). WINNIPEG
NATE BEHAR
WR | CARLETON

Behar is arguably the most physically gifted receiver in the 2017 CFL draft. I’m not sure he’ll fall to the mid-teens but if he does, it’s a perfect fit for the Blue Bombers.

Behar could challenge Addison Richards and free agent acquisition Matt Coates for the wide side receiver spot quickly or be a depth contributor somewhere in the boundary.

 University of Montreal

7 (16). BC
JUNIOR LUKE
DL | MONTREAL

Luke has special quickness for his 300-pound frame and could create havoc in the backfield similar to a Jake Thomas or Zach Evans in short order.

He has defensive end-type bend to get the edge despite finding a comfortable home at tackle and can compress the pocket quickly with great leverage allowed by his low centre of gravity.

 David Moll/University of Calgary

8 (17). CALGARY
JORDAN FILIPPELLI
OL | CALGARY

Filippelli developed nicely from an underweight freshman when he arrived to the Dinos into a near immovable rock on the Calgary offensive line during a Hardy Cup Championship and Vanier Cup run in 2016.

Filippelli was the vocal leader of an exceptional Dinos offensive line and could be capable of filling in anywhere immediately, perhaps alleviating the Quinn Smith emergency bailout plan from being enacted again in 2017.

 Carleton University

9 (18). OTTAWA
NATHANIEL HAMLIN
DB | CARLETON

Hamlin has great range and length to complement the edge he carries at all times between the white lines. Fellow Carleton defensive back Tunde Adeleke is more of a speed, quickness, return guy while Hamlin has a well rounded skill set, making him attractive to any coaching staff.

Hamlin covered Western’s George Johnson – an Alouettes draft pick – and Ottawa’s Mitchell Baines – recently signed by Saskatchewan – one on one in each of their matchups with Carleton. A credit to his man coverage skills and the Carleton coaches belief in his abilities.

 

ROUND 3

 Kha Vo/Laurier Athletics

1 (19). TORONTO
MARCUS ARKARAKAS
REC | LAURIER

Toronto cut four receivers mid-season last year, giving 2016 fourth overall pick Brian Jones a chance to get receiver reps much quicker than some would have anticipated. Jones adapted well alongside Toronto Varsity Blues and Windsor AKO Fratmen alumni Llevi Noel.

Why not add another solid possession receiver opposite either of those CFL sophomores to complement a running game presumably strengthened by Kendall Hunter and Anthony Coombs?

Toronto is a bit of a wild card with such a short time to arrive at prospect decisions before the combine and draft. If Marc Trestman would like to add an explosive element to his offence lost in the receiver cuts by now former head coach Scott Milanovich, he probably won’t find it in this draft. But a high quality, durable national receiver such as Arkarakas would fit well into the high completion pass offence of Ricky Ray and Marc Trestman.

Personally, I was a fan of Marcus’ game at Laurier and would love to see him find a home in the double blue bright lights of BMO Field.

 Tara Miller/Bison Sports

2 (20). MONTREAL
EVAN FOSTER
DL | MANITOBA

Gabriel Knapton re-signed with the Alouettes in February, establishing the brute force end Noel Thorpe needs in his 3-4 scheme. Foster brings a similar energy and explosive bull rush to Knapton with his 240-pound frame.

If Foster tests well and shows his power in one on ones at the combine, as I expect he will, he could go before 20th overall. But the Alouettes would be lucky to have him.

St. Francis Xavier

3 (21). HAMILTON
KAY OKAFOR
DL | ST. FX

Okafor is as raw and talented a defensive line prospect as there is in this draft. He has the size to play right away at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, but will need some time to develop technique. Who better to teach him than a man with great experience at the U Sports level and one of the best technique teachers in the CFL in Dennis McPhee?

In Hamilton, Okafor could develop behind a pro’s pro in John Chick and turn into a really special ratio flexible player. Not to mention his raw athleticism and ability to run will allow special teams work immediately. He is a plus player.

Piper Sports Photography

4 (22). EDMONTON
MITCHELL PICTON
REC | REGINA

Picton carved out an incredible run with the Regina Rams and quarterback cousin Noah. His quick breaks and ‘quiet’ route running style make him a direct comparable to another Mitchell — Mitchell Baines, who recently signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders out of the University of Ottawa.

Picton fits nicely with national veterans Nate Coehoorn and Cory Watson while battling for playing time with developmental receiver Anthony Barrett.

Fordham University

5 (23). WINNIPEG
JUSTIN VAUGHN
DL | FORDHAM

Vaughn adds size and consistent effort to an already substantive Blue Bombers pass rush. Having the ability to rotate through nationals with internationals seamlessly despite injury, fatigue or scheme is the strength of this Hamilton native’s game.
Justin_Senior_2016

6 (24). BC
JUSTIN SENIOR
OL | MISSISSIPPI STATE

Senior is firmly on NFL radars and could fall even further than this but BC feels like a fit due to a relative lack of depth in front of him. Jovan Olafioye is 29 years old but not going anywhere fast and Antonio Johnson has earned the right to be considered for either tackle spot in front of Johnathan Jennings.

In Vancouver, Senior instantly becomes a quick national replacement at either tackle capable of holding his own and becoming an established starter when the opportunity presents itself.

Yan Doublet/Laval

7 (25). CALGARY
JEAN-SIMON ROY
OL | LAVAL

Laval offensive linemen don’t really require an explanation at this point. Depending on where teams deem Ekakitie, Senior and Gray to be, Roy could go in the mid teens with his sound hands and system understanding — both trademarks of a Rouge et Or blocker.

McMaster Athletics

8 (26). OTTAWA
FABIAN FOOTE
DL| MCMASTER

Marauders defensive lineman Fabian Foote believes he has the numbers to stand up against any defensive tackle, anywhere. Not just CFL, but NFL too. He’ll have a chance to prove that at the CFL Combine in Regina and a truly explosive performance could push him above Okafor and Vaughn, his direct defensive line competition.

If Foote tests out similar to those two prospects, his game tape will trump all and scouts will have to parse his incredibly productive 2016 campaign with a far quieter 2014 and 2015.

Ottawa could land Foote behind Zach Evans and Ettore Lattanzio as a powerful trio of nationals ready to compete for a chance to contribute to Ottawa’s Grey Cup repeat hopes.