April 3, 2017

Mock 2.0: Ankou, Senior jump up the charts

ASUCLA Photography

TORONTO — The CFL Combine presented by adidas has come and gone but who did it affect?

With stocks rising and dropping late last month in Regina, the 2017 CFL Draft has an all-new outlook since the time Marshall Ferguson drew up his first mock draft.

Now, with a month remaining before draft day, Marsh is back with 2.0.

A lot can change between now and May 7 but in the meantime, how are things shaping up?


Jeff Miller/Bison Sports


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 for presumed Week 1 starting quarterback Matt Nichols while 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 Sukh Chungh holds down the right guard.

In my first mock draft I had Geoff Gray, a 2017 Shrine Bowl invitee and recent unicycle riding expert, going second overall With Mason Woods sitting atop the big board. After watching more of Gray’s game film and seeing Woods struggle at times to maintain any kind of leverage, it’s become clear to me Gray should be the rightful holder of the first overall distinction.

Gray is a unique mixture of multi sport athleticism and classic Canadian lineman size. He is a very real threat to dance into NFL waters come late spring but there is a method to the madness of taking that risk on a player first overall.

In Gray’s case, the Bomber’s should consider the gift known as the Drew Willy Argos trade as protection. You never, ever want to take a shot in the dark, especially at first overall, but Gray is far from a shot in the dark or a long term developmental offensive lineman and the Bombers have another first round pick with which to feel secure.

If Gray plays in the CFL he would be a home run for Winnipeg. Why not take him as the top pick and see where the cards land later? You might say that’s a risky proposition, but imagine not taking the Manitoba product and watching him flourish for 15 years in Rider green.

ASUCLA Photography


Chris Jones just wants football players. Big, nasty, mean spirited athletes with a singular goal in mind of being the best at their craft.

Eli Ankou fits that mold. With the Bombers passing him over at first overall in favour of quarterback protection, Saskatchewan should be ecstatic to add Ankou to the future fold here.

Ankou would fit seamlessly into the deep rotation of defensive lineman utilized in Regina last season if and when he signs a CFL contract.

Bethune-Cookman University

3. BC

The 2017 CFL draft might not have those one or two names that jump above the rest as sure fire perennial all-stars or A+ prospects but the strength of the draft is in the high number of B+ and A- prospects, especially across the offensive line.

In Bladek, the Lions could add a prime example of this depth while solidifying the left guard position should Hunter Steward take a look south in the coming years. At the combine, Bladek brought an intensity, focus and personality typically seen in a prototypical top five selection.

Bladek can be a depth swing man immediately with the very real possibility of becoming a rock on a line building around Jonathon Jennings for the foreseeable future.

Alistair Boulby/McMaster Sports


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 Aprile 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 – once re-signing – 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.

University of Idaho


I’ve been tough in evaluating Mason Woods during and since the CFL combine in Regina. Woods has the frame to be a tackle but didn’t show the natural movement to own that chance quickly. When kicked inside to guard, where he spent much of his time at Idaho, Woods played tall and relied on his reach more than lower body fundamentals and it showed while being uprooted like the tallest tree in your yard during a vicious rain storm.

When Matt O’Donnell came out of Queen’s I would have likely said the same things. When Justin Sorenson became a centre many questioned having height like that inside. Edmonton seems like a natural fit for another tall, skilled offensive lineman in search of a home.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Woods fall outside of the first round after his combine adventure but game tape is more important than anything else and Woods only needs one team to love his tape. I wonder if that team is Edmonton.

Kha Vo/Laurier Athletics


With the Bombers taking Geoff Gray with the first overall pick, the sixth overall selection is a proverbial free daily double.

Winnipeg would be wise to invest in both lines with its two first round picks. While Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie is enticing and more likely to play in the CFL than UCLA’s Eli Ankou, he is still less likely to play here than Laurier’s Kwaku Boateng.

Winnipeg needs guaranteed value at the sixth pick and Boateng looks as much like a sure fire front seven tornado as anyone in this draft.

When comparing Lions 2015 first round pick Ese Mrabure – also from Wilfrid Laurier – 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.


7. BC

With the Lions recent trade of Jovan Olafioye to Montreal for the rights to Montreal Carabins alum David Foucault, BC is open to some transition in the offensive line and Senior feels like a natural fit.

Although he played in the SEC and attended the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, I rank both Geoff Gray and Dariusz Bladek ahead of Senior. Not because they are head and shoulders above Senior but because they appear more fundamentally sound as interior linemen than Senior does as a tackle.

If a national is likely to establish a long-term starting spot it is consistently as a guard or centre. Senior is a pure tackle for now, rendering him as a day one backup tackle or guard in waiting.

There are moments I love watching Senior on tape. He moves fluidly against edge rushers and has good mobility for his big frame, but he is top heavy and tends to lean himself into trouble allowing interior pass rush moves or opening the door to getting shrugged by savvy defensive lineman.

BC could give Senior a solid mix of opportunity and veteran protection to allow him to develop into the player the CFL Scouting Bureau has consistently ranked as the top prospect of 2017.

Carleton University


While it’s tempting to save Behar for one more pick and keep the Carleton Ravens star in Ottawa with the REDBLACKS, whom he has assisted equipment managers with over the last two summers, I think Behar is the right type of player for Dave Dickenson and the Calgary Stampeders.

Behar challenged 2015 Stamps draft pick Lemar Durant’s bench record for receivers at the 2017 CFL combine and was sure to impress in interviews with his IQ and conversationalist nature. The guy just loves football.

Dave Dickenson surrounds his room with men who are passionate about the cause. I believe Behar is a first round talent and will add value not yet seen on special teams once Calgary special teams boss Mark Kilam gets his way.

Iowa Hawkeyes


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 could push the REDBLACKS towards taking a USPORTS player ready to commit himself to the organization immediately. Maybe even a Kwaku Boateng or Kay Okafor if they last to the end of the first round.



Henderson State Athletics

1 (10). TORONTO

Without a first round pick, the Argos need to find true value with their first selection of the 2017 and I believe they get it in Ajax native Dondre Wright of Henderson State.

Newly anointed double blue defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin has a history of lanky, powerful defensive backs. Wright tested out well above average and showed minimal, very correctable flaws in one-on-ones in Regina.

What I love most about this pick is the way Wright set the edge as a linebacker-defensive back hybrid at Henderson State. If the Argos take Wright with the first pick of their new era I have a very hard time believing Jim Popp will regret it.

  Joseph Safakis/McGill


While at the combine, I heard the Riders won’t even look at you as an offensive or defensive lineman if you don’t hit at least fifteen reps on the bench. How about adding a 6-foot-3, 312-pound lineman with long arms, a thick lower half and solid movement skills? Oh by the way, he hit 31 reps on the bench in Regina.

Spooner has a mean streak that shows through on film. He always finishes the play and loves to go for a run downfield given the chance on a quick throw or screen pass. In between the tackles he rarely opens a door, always directing the pass rusher where he wants them to go before finishing the job.

I was very impressed with Spooner’s mentality and approach during the CFL combine. He seems like a thoughtful guy who worked hard to prepare himself for the chance and strikes me as someone who wants to earn the chance to wear a CFL uniform. Just what Riders fans should want in the Chris Jones rebuild.

University of Maine Athletics

3 (12). MONTREAL

This is a ‘best player available’ type of pick for me in Montreal. Similar to Jim Popp in Toronto, new general manager Kavis Reed does not have a first round pick due to the Vernon Adams Jr. trade so he must find immediate value whether the direct fit is there or not.

Mulumba is the type of piece you need in order to grow. Give Defensive Coordinator Noel Thorpe and his aggressive blitzing Alouettes defence this fast, physical downhill striking linebacker and see where it goes.

David Moll/University of Calgary

4 (13). HAMILTON

Woodson gave me everything I wanted to see at the CFL combine and is much larger in person than I remembered from the 2016 Vanier Cup in Hamilton.

He can run with anybody in this draft and has effective special teams film — both aspects which should draw Eric Tillman and Kent Austin’s attention. Both men seemed to deeply respect what Robert’s brother Anthony brought to the table in Hamilton as a running back and primary special teams contributor over the last couple seasons.

Robert could slot in as a deep backup and developmental free safety or part of a young core behind field corner and national Courtney Stephen.

 Matt Smith/CFL.ca

5 (14). EDMONTON

Schram is similar to Saskatchewan’s Evan Johnson in that he just rarely makes mistakes and seems very ready to play in a moment’s notice. The differentiating factor here is Schram’s ability to hold ground with his wide base and exceptional coaching at the University of Calgary.

 University of Montreal

6 (15). WINNIPEG

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.

Despite some poor reps in pads at the CFL combine, I believe the tape shows the type of defensive lineman every CFL team should want the chance to develop.

SFU Athletics

7 (16). BC

Listen, his pro day didn’t go as planned, and his combine wasn’t the improvement people wanted to see but for some reason when Jordan Herdman puts on pads and you ask him to tackle someone it just kind of happens.

Due to that very fact, the Simon Fraser product could go much earlier but I see the mid-teens as a natural landing spot to the Lions, who brought in now former Blue Bombers weak side linebacker Tony Burnett in free agency. Aside from special teams ace Jason Arakgi, there isn’t much depth in the Lions’ linebacking core after the release of Adam Bighill for a chance with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

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.

 Yan Doublet/Laval

8 (17). CALGARY

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.

 Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

9 (18). OTTAWA

Augustine didn’t run the 40-yard time he wanted in Regina but this black belt-holding, jump-cutting running back is ready for prime time after declaring himself a future starter at the CFL combine.

With Kienan Lafrance out the door in free agency, watch for Ottawa to bring in Augustine.



1 (19). TORONTO

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.

There were moments during one-on-ones at the CFL combine where you could see Okafor realize his potential and other reps where he looked raw as could be. Get the right influences in his ear on a daily basis and you could be looking at a very special national lineman with incredible value at the first pick of the third round.

Former Western Mustang Daryl Waud and Guelph Gryphon Cam Walker alongside Okafor is a really nice defensive line core for Trestman and company to move forward with.

2 (20). MONTREAL

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.

3 (21). HAMILTON

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. 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 this spot in the draft. 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.

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 mold. One of the most difficult players I ever game planned for, he’s just always at the ball no matter what you do to prevent it.

4 (22). EDMONTON

Adeleke is a tough evaluation due to his exceptional return skills and their seemingly disconnected relationship to coverage skills. Tuned blew me away on the bench and has earned the right with his tests and padded play in Regina to be included in the first three rounds.

Something I didn’t expect to write after initial evaluation in December. A credit to his preparation and skill set.

5 (23). WINNIPEG

Evan Johnson might be my favourite player from the 2017 CFL combine. Quietly, he racked up exceptional test after exceptional test. As a smaller lineman he got worked a bit during the padded session at the CFL combine but you can see the athleticism, movement skills and overall potential.

6 (24). BC

When in doubt, go with your gut on a player you think will help your football team regardless of role. I see Sean Thomas-Erlington as becoming a really nicely three- or four-tooled back and contributor to all things Lions.

7 (25). CALGARY

Before the CFL combine, Foote told me he believed he had some special numbers in store for evaluators. He wasn’t lying.

He tested well and showed good variety in one-on-ones. Foote could land on a defensive line alongside a similar OUA graduate defensive tackle in Derek Wiggan, who was taken 34th overall by Calgary in 2014.

8 (26). OTTAWA

Mackie made everyone at the Ontario regional combine look bad in pass rush drills and that continued into his Regina showcase. In a similar vein to ex-Marauder and Calgary draft pick Micheal Kashak, this high-energy pivot chaser should make any special teams coach happy while earning a role on Ottawa’s defensive line behind Zack Evans.



1 (27). TORONTO

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.

2 (28). 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.

3 (29). MONTREAL

Vaughan adds size and consistent effort to an already substantive Alouettes 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. Despite Montreal shifting its ratio strategy, Vaughn should find time early if he stays healthy.


He can run, he can catch, he is a load and he works. Give this Simon Fraser running back-fullback hybrid a chance to flourish behind Spencer Moore on special teams.

5 (31). EDMONTON

Picton carved out an incredible run with the Regina Rams and quarterback relative 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.


At least once a draft a national lineman from the Regina Rams has to end up with the Riders. This year I pick Jeremy Zver.

After watching and re-watching his effective pass rush protections at the CFL combine and hearing the uproar anytime he stalemated a defensive lineman, I’m convinced he would be a nice piece for the Riders moving forward.

7 (33). BC

We don’t see very many Warriors at CFL combines but when we do they usually test well. Jordan Hoover continued that trend in 2017 and came from nowhere to very much on several teams’ radars.

8 (34). CALGARY

I have a feeling McGough could go much earlier than the 34th overall pick but he could slip due to his comparatively small stature. That won’t matter once he starts making plays at a CFL training camp though and anyone who gets him will have acquired a uniquely CFL style player.

Of the four draft eligible Dinos defensive lineman in the 2017 CFL draft, McGough is the one whose skill set and on field demeanour scream “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.

9 (35). OTTAWA

With a limited pass rush skill set, Sam Narkaj is all about compressing the pocket. Put him in competition with a Mark Mackie and your team will be better off for it.



1 (36). TORONTO

The unicorn is alive and could be coming to a CFL stadium near you soon. Malcolm Carter is the definition of a developmental receiver with fantastic athletic tests and natural ability to catch the football. He will have to combine that with route running discipline and technical skills.

This is more of a wishful pick for me. I’d love to see a prospect that raw land in Toronto and find out what he can become while protected by the national receiver depth offered by Brian Jones and Llevi Noel.


Chris Jones and the Riders’ staff ran the drills at the 2017 CFL combine. Everyone knows by now the story of Alex Singleton and the Calgary Stampeders. While Matt and Alex have greatly different bodies and playing styles, their mentality is the same and I think the Riders want in.

3 (38). MONTREAL

More competition for Christophe Mulumba. The University of Montreal Carabins prospect ran well for his natural size and showed enough athleticism to turn a head or two. Chagnon’s issue in the CFL might be that he is too light to be a middle linebacker and strangely long for an outside linebacker. Regardless, he is a traditional CFL tweener who should get a chance to prove his worth in the pre-season.

4 (39). HAMILTON

This whole year to year kicker thing is wearing on Ticats fans a bit. Draft a really solid, well put together kicker who tests exceptionally compared to his peers and see what happens. If Tyler Crapigna can be traded for Jerome Messam, the worst case scenario is Hamilton trades Menard-Briere in a couple years for a meaningful piece.

5 (40). EDMONTON

In McEachern, the Eskimos get a work horse with a raging bull on field mentality. Let him loose on special teams and attach him at the hip to JC Sherrit.

6 (41). EDMONTON

Adeboboye was one of the really pleasant surprises of the combine season. He runs better routes than 90 per cent of receivers invited to regional and national combines with smooth releases and devastating stems.

The issue here is size. As one of the smallest receiver prospects in recent CFL history, someone will have to believe they can find value in Adam that others could not.

7 (42). BC

Asare struggled and looked rather awkward at times in Regina. His raw size and arm length are perfection but there is work to do. Maybe BC gives him the chance he needs.

8 (43). CALGARY

Whether it’s back flips on YouTube while catching footballs or explosive lower body tests in person, Harland Hastings is impressive. The Calgary native could be going home dependent on quality of interview during the CFL combine.

9 (44). OTTAWA

Gosselin tested out as well as anyone at the CFL combine and should earn a chance to play on special teams quickly while developing an offensive skill set close to home.


1 (45). TORONTO

Gillespie is simply not a testing guy but knows how to play the game and has really sound man coverage skills. The Argos could add defensive back depth behind Dondre Wright with the addition of Gillespie.


If there is blood in the water, Jesse McNair was probably just there. If the Riders want to be a fast, physical bunch, they’d do well to add McNair, who attended the Ontario Regional Combine.

3 (47). MONTREAL

Morrison tested well and was smoother than anticipated with pads on in Regina. Don’t be surprised if someone reaches for him early in the fifth round.

4 (48). HAMILTON

Robinson didn’t make it to the national combine from the Western Regional but on film has all the skills and drive of fellow Dino defensive lineman Connor McGough.

5 (49). EDMONTON

Wiliams adds national depth to special teams and has the demeanour to find a larger role before long.

6 (50). WINNIPEG

Evan Foster is a tornado. I have no clue what he could become as a positional player but he is a day one special teams starter and locker room hero if taken by the Blue Bombers.

7 (51). BC

Chevrier’s 4.66 second 40-yard dash was no fluke. The guy can run, with size. Jason Arakgi could find his special teams clone in training with Chevrier in Vancouver.

8 (52). CALGARY

I have no idea if Laurensse is physical enough to battle on special teams, or develop into a tangible defensive player, but he was outstanding at the CFL Combine and as the pleasant surprise of the combine he deserves a chance.

9 (53). OTTAWA

Another big-bodied national receiver for the REDBLACKS might seem like overkill but you can never have enough size and special teams maneuverability. Hannon to the nation’s capital to join former Queen’s big man Scott Macdonnell.