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April 5, 2018

Mock 2.0: Changing of the guards

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

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

With stocks rising and dropping late last month in Winnipeg, the 2018 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 3 but in the meantime, how are things shaping up?

 ROUND 1

1. MONTREAL
DAKODA SHEPLEY
OL | UBC

Shepley was a man amongst boys for most of the CFL Scouting Combine. He combined elite athleticism with a solid strength base to test well. In one-on-ones, he more than held his own on most reps and comes across as a really genuine person both on and off camera.

Montreal does not need to reinvent the wheel with the first pick. The Als should take Shepley and work daily with him to develop a standout national lineman who can solidify a top-end national talent base moving forward.

As one evaluator told me, “Dakoda has his flaws, but they’re much easier to fix than the other options.”

I’m a fan and I believe Alouettes fans would be too.

2. HAMILTON
MARK CHAPMAN
REC | CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Chapman was by far the smoothest receiver at the combine, confirming what I had already seen from him in NCAA games for Central Michigan. His burst coming out of routes separates him from most of the 2018 receiver draft class and his hands are as natural as they come.

In Central Michigan’s NCAA-style spread offence, Chapman caught many quick screen passes, ran jet sweeps and was used as a constant threat or decoy with his speed threatening every part of the opposing defence.

June Jones’ offence would suit Chapman immediately giving the opportunity for relatively rare early playing time and production for a team which continues to search for long-term answers to the ratio question left behind be Any Fantuz’s impending departure.

3. BC
RYAN HUNTER
OL | BOWLING GREEN

The BC Lions need offensive line help in the worst way and I believe they have to go offensive line with their first pick. While there are plenty of options available at the third pick, if the Lions want to reach for the best of the best they could go with Ryan Hunter of Bowling Green.

Hunter was a consistent starter for the Falcons, displaying sound movement skills and a willingness to outwork rushing defenders. He strikes me as the perfect fit for an early-draft, protection-needy team like the Lions due to his experience against top end competition and consistency on field.

 

4. OTTAWA
MARK KORTE
OL | ALBERTA

If BC doesn’t take Alberta standout Mark Korte with the third pick, Ottawa should be happy to snap him up at number four.

Korte was the second most athletic lineman behind UBC’s Dakoda Shepley at the national combine and is worth the risk despite NFL interest after excelling at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

His well-rounded skill set mimics that of Ottawa’s first round pick Evan Johnson last year. If General Manager Marcel Desjardins was in on Johnson he could see many similar positives with Korte.

As left tackle at Alberta he helped pave the way for REDBLACKS 2017 draft pick and running back Ed Ilnicki to win the Hec Crighton. The Golden Bear tandem could transition into the CFL lifestyle nicely together in the nation’s capital.

5. SASKATCHEWAN
GODFREY ONYEKA
DB | LAURIER

Onyeka said entering the winter he believed he should be the top overall pick due to his athleticism and versatile playing style.

Chris Jones has to be a fan.

Jones could use Onyeka in a plethora of situations on the Riders’ defence and special teams, ranging from punt gunner and kickoff coverage to linebacker and free safety. Godfrey’s instincts and reaction time are among the best of any defender at all three levels of the defence in this draft class. He should not get out of the first round.

6. EDMONTON
JULIEN LAURENT
DL | GEORGIA STATE

The Eskimos’ defensive line got significantly younger this off-season and the youth movement could continue with an NCAA-experienced mountain at defensive tackle. Julien Laurent would provide Edmonton with a solid national sidekick to Almondo Sewell in sub packages on a defence forced to evolve on the fly to meet ratio requirements last year after a rash of injuries at weak side linebacker and defensive line.

With Sewell consistently demanding double teams, Laurent could access his above average ability to track quarterbacks’ eyes and get his long arms in the way of pass attempts.

7. WINNIPEG
DANIEL PETERMANN
REC | MCMASTER

Petermann ran the fastest 40-yard dash in Winnipeg but that’s not why he gets a first round grade from me.

Petermann has exceptional route discipline and a weaving elusive nature which, combined with his straight-line speed and soft hands, creates a top level pass-catching prospect. Winnipeg could develop Petermann behind newly acquired free agent Nic Demski while he earns his stripes on special teams in training camp.

8. CALGARY
TREY RUTHERFORD
OL | UCONN

Last year, Calgary utilized the somewhat nontraditional lineup of international interior linemen and national tackles for much of the year.

Rutherford is a risk depending on NFL interest but could be worth it should he get to Cowtown as a physical, downhill run-blocker with the size and feet to protect Bo Levi at either guard or tackle.

9. TORONTO
PETER GODBER
OL | RICE

Godber didn’t impress many football operations team staff by arriving in Winnipeg and deciding not to test until his pro day, but once Godber did test the numbers were impressive. When combined with his consistent play and ability to stay on the field, Godber should be off the board by the mid-teens at the latest.

The Argos are constantly developing national line talent on both sides of the ball and the arrival of James Franklin this off-season has made a future protection plan that much more important.

 

ROUND 2

1 (10). HAMILTON
DAVID MACKIE
RB | WESTERN

The Darian Durant pick which was flipped for Zach Collaros this winter is about to turn into Jeremiah Masoli’s new best friend.

David Mackie is THE swiss army knife of the 2018 CFL draft. Mackie’s team led the country in rushing last year with help from the running back’s skilled blocks that come with a CFL-style high degree of difficulty and execution in the Mustangs’ power run offence.

Mackie could be unleashed in a variety of creative ways by June Jones over the next couple years. As the old saying goes in the CFL, “the more you can do..”

Mackie has experience as a long snapper and Aaron Crawford is on the mend for Hamilton meaning Mackie – the predominant H-back in this year’s draft – comes with big time upside.

2 (11). HAMILTON
ISAIAH GUZYLAK-MESSAM
DB | LAURIER

While all the hype coming into the national combine was – rightfully so – about Laurier’s Godfrey Onyeka, his Golden Hawks teammate Isaiah Guzylak-Messam was never far behind in the Winnipeg evaluation.

A Hamilton native and graduate of Macnab Secondary, Guzylak-Messam is a physically-thrashing defensive back with a ball hawk mentality who finishes every play. His immediate impact could come on special teams learning from another U SPORTS player of similar background and playing style in Jonathan Langa.

3 (12). BC
RYAN SCEVIOUR
OL | CALGARY

The Lions could use almost every pick on Jonathon Jennings’ protection plan in the first half of the draft in May and nobody in an orange should complain. Sceviour was the best member of a consistently dominant Dinos offensive line this year and should be a high pick.

4 (13). OTTAWA
JACKSON BENNETT
DB | OTTAWA

Jackson Bennett impressed everyone in attendance on Sunday at Winnipeg’s national combine. Bennett took part in both linebacker and defensive back drills while competing in special teams drills against running backs and receivers.

He is super athletic, agile and powerful at the point of attack. Add in return game experience and the REDBLACKS should want to keep Bennett close to home.

5 (14). SASKATCHEWAN
RASHAUN SIMONISE
REC | OKANAGAN

Simonise didn’t impress athletically at the national combine the way many assumed he would, but there is no denying his natural length and hands.

His profile as a former NFL-experienced speedster fits the Riders’ draft profile as of late and given the Riders’ structure, Simonise could compete with nationals Devon Bailey and Josh Stanford immediately for playing time.

6 (15). HAMILTON
MICAH TEITZ
LB | CALGARY

Teitz plays low and fast, serving as an effective linebacker both in pass coverage and against the run in Calgary. After losing Mitch Barnett in free agency to the BC Lions, Hamilton should be happy to add Teitz as a depth weak side linebacker.

Any positives that come from this pick for the Ticats are an added bonus as the selection came from Edmonton for the rights to John Chick last year, who recently retired.

7 (16). WINNIPEG
MARCO DUBOIS
REC | LAVAL

Arguably the most sound special teams player in the draft, Marco Dubois’ game is all about length.

Length of arms to lock out blockers on a punt coverage unit, length of stride to outrun teammates on kickoff coverage and the speed to outrun many larger players.

Dubois will make whatever team picks him better on special teams immediately.

8 (17). CALGARY
REGIS CIBASU
REC | MONTREAL

Cibasu is as physically dominating a receiver as there is in this draft. His natural size is comparable to many of the Stampeders big bodied pass-catchers and his route running would develop nicely under the guidance of Dave Dickenson and Co.

9 (18). TORONTO
KENE ONYEKA
DL | CARLETON

Onyeka is one of the best pass rushers of the last two years in U SPORTS but will have to evolve his game in the CFL. Without the lower body power of a Kwaku Boateng, Onyeka has learned to use his hands and a variation of pass rush moves to get home a bunch in 2018.

 

ROUND 3

1 (19). MONTREAL
MATHIEU BRETON
DL | BISHOP’S

Breton has a unique frame which could intrigue the Alouettes to take him ahead of more polished players.

2 (20). HAMILTON
DARIUS CIRACO
OL | CALGARY

The Burlington, Ont. native would do well to learn and develop behind former Calgary Dinos teammate and current Ticats offensive lineman Braden Schram.

3 (21). BC
NELKAS KWEMO
LB | QUEEN’S

The Gaels and Lions have a long standing relationship which could reappear in the third round or earlier with Kwemo heading West to earn a role on special teams. Nelkas’ frame is unique and his potential with the right coaching feels limitless.

4 (22). OTTAWA
ETIENNE MOISAN
REC | LAVAL

Patrick Lavoie returned to Montreal this off-season via trade, meaning the REDBLACKS are open to developing a big-framed pass catcher with blocking ability. Moisan checks off many of those boxes.

5 (23). MONTREAL
TYRONE PIERRE
REC | LAVAL

Pierre is a dynamic pass-catcher with room to improve in route running and decision-making, but his frame and play style is reminiscent of current Alouettes pass-catcher George Johnson.

6 (24). TORONTO
DAVID KNEVEL
OL | NEBRASKA

With the pick acquired alongside James Franklin for Mason Woods, the Argos could take a shot on another NCAA lineman.

Depending on how the NFL draft and priority free agent contracts go for, Knevel he could go much earlier or later than the 24th selection. If and when Knevel appears in the CFL, he will improve the national depth and potential of any offensive line group he joins.

7 (25). CALGARY
DAGOGO MAXWELL
DB | UBC

A freaky athlete with an aggressive mentality, Maxwell would fit in nicely with former Carleton Ravens defensive back and return man Tunde Adeleke to form a dynamic duo of options for Calgary Defensive Coordinator DeVone Claybrooks and Special teams Coordinator Mark Kilam.

8 (26). WINNIPEG
BRETT WADE
DL | CALGARY

Sometimes film tells a story that could be ignored if not supported in a combine setting. Brett Wade’s quick swim move during one-on-ones in Winnipeg’s national combine could have the Bombers staff imagining him back in Manitoba soon.

 

ROUND 4

1 (27). MONTREAL
ROYCE METCHIE
DB | GUELPH

A solid all around defensive back with good recognition skills and a playful on-field demeanour. Metchie showed well at the national combine and would fit nicely behind Dondre Wright in Montreal to begin his career.

2 (28). CALGARY
JORDAN BEAULIEU
DB | WESTERN

Jordan Beaulieu is football.

He’s loud, brash, excitable and high-skilled. His energy is infectious and never stops from snap to whistle. The Mustangs special teams ace will undoubtedly turn some heads in training camp and Calgary’s special teams coordinator Mark Kilam would be the perfect mentor to shape Beaulieu’s raw energy.

3 (29). OTTAWA
PAUL KOZACHUK
LB | TORONTO

Remember that weird afternoon when Odell Willis was a REDBLACK and Charleston Hughes was a Ticats defensive lineman? This pick comes from the Odell flip-flop in Ottawa.

Kozachuk came out of nowhere to many at the regional combine level, posting excellent times in a variety of speed drills. On film he is very sound in maintaining leverage and positioning on special teams and thanks to his natural athleticism could develop into a solid backup weak side linebacker.

4 (30). OTTAWA
ANDREW PICKETT
OL | GUELPH

I’m not sure Pickett will last all the way to No. 30 on the big board, but there are so many talented players at other positions of need he could slip right into the arms of an East Division team in search of offensive line depth.

5 (31). MONTREAL
ERIC MEZZALIRA
LB | McMASTER

A better pass rusher than cover man, Mezzalira has worked hard to develop a true linebacker skill set over the last three years of increased playing time while always being one of the most intuitive players on the field.

6 (32). EDMONTON
DAVID POLYNICE
DB | MCGILL

Polynice’s performance at the Eastern Regional combine didn’t shock anyone who watched his game film. He is a responsible point of attack defender who shows the signs of an educated player who rarely guesses and trusts his eyes in zone coverage to jump routes with great anticipation.

7 (33). WINNIPEG
MATTEO DEL BROCCO
REC | QUEEN’S

Del Brocco deserved to advance from the Ontario regional combine in my opinion after his testing performance, but route running likely lost him the bid over a less athletically inclined receiver such as Western’s Harry McMaster.

Del Brocco has good size, runs well and with a closer attention to detail should become an above average developmental receiver. He could go much later in the draft but in a relatively thin second tier of receivers Del Brocco is a name to know.

8 (34). HAMILTON
MITCH O’CONNOR
REC | MCMASTER

Mitch O’Connor is the best kept secret in the 2018 draft. O’Connor tested well at the Ontario Regional and will serve his dues on special teams immediately. Despite battling injuries off and on for the majority of his senior season, O’Connor establish himself as a physical presence on all special teams units.

At the national combine in Winnipeg, I asked a coach if they had heard of Mitch O’Conn.. They stopped me short, winked and said, “don’t worry, we’re well aware of him.” I wonder how interested Hamilton will be in keeping Mitch close to campus come May.

9 (35). TORONTO
JUSTIN HOWELL
DB | CARLETON

Howell maintains leverage and positioning on special teams better than almost any other defensive back on film in the 2018 draft. He has the size of a weak side linebacker but plays with the burst of a halfback.

Not completely sure of a natural positional fit at the next level but a name to know. Toronto could use Howell to back fill the roles of 2017 draftees Evan Foster and Nakas Onyeka.

 

ROUND 5

1 (36). SASKATCHEWAN
ATLEE SIMON
RB | REGINA

Atlee Simon quietly had a wonderful weekend in Winnipeg at the national combine. He struts the ability to serve as an undersized running back with a strong lower body or a change of pace slotback capable of handling the rock in space as he’s done so successfully for quarterback Noah Picton and the Regina Rams.

2 (37). EDMONTON
TANNER GREEN
RB | CONCORDIA

A big bodied fullback and native of Alberta, Tanner Green should get an opportunity in camp come May to show he is more than just a special teams contributor — although he has no problem serving that role. One of the largest members of the offensive skill position 2018 class should see some action in the pre-season if he can establish himself as more than just a big blocking frame.

3 (38). BC
BO BANNER
DL | CENTRAL WASHINGTON

Banner is much too talented to fall this late in the draft and I don’t truly expect him to be around after the second or third round, but one coach told me during interviews in Winnipeg Banner had a less than ideal response to the concept of contributing on special teams.

As an undersized defensive lineman, Banner has to rely on his quickness to rush and would need to play specials at that weight or put on some pounds to not get lifted out of the run game as a defensive rotation player.

4 (39). CALGARY
CHRISTOPHER AMOAH
RB | LAVAL

Amoah possesses the best jump cut and vision in this year’s CFL draft at the running back position. He has fantastic burst and long speed as shown by his 4.47 second 40-yard dash at the 2017 East-West Bowl combine. This pick was acquired by Calgary from the REDBLACKS for Drew Tate.

5 (40). EDMONTON
ARCHELAUS JACK
REC | SAINT MARY’S

A former Riders practice roster player who has bounced around the CJFL and U SPORTS, Jack doesn’t have a ton of variety to his game which could hurt his draft stock as a wide receiver. As a special teamer, his competitive nature will be tested early and often but the raw athleticism is there and ready to be accessed.

6 (41). WINNIPEG
ANTONY DUFOUR
REC | LAVAL

Another in a long line of 2018 Laval skill position players. How did they lose to Western in the Vanier Cup?!

7 (42). CALGARY
SEAN HARRINGTON
LB | MICHIGAN STATE

Harrington didn’t impress in the special teams drills at the national combine the way many thought he would due to extensive specials experience against major division one NCAA talent, but still appears ready to step in and play in a moment’s notice.

8 (43). TORONTO
WILLIAM WATSON
REC| UBC

A depth pick ready to develop and contribute behind summer of 2017 standout Jimmy Ralph.

ROUND 6

1 (44). MONTREAL
KHADIM MBAYE
LB | OTTAWA

Mbaye measured in larger than expected and ran better than some evaluators I asked for a projection of him on. He is a true between the tackles linebacker with a great ability to shoot the gap and anticipate before arriving with force. Will the CFL’s speed and requirement of early recognition take away that distance advantage for him?

2 (45). SASKATCHEWAN
TRISTAN KORONKIEWICZ
DL | SASKATCHEWAN

Koronkiewicz put up solid numbers at the Western Regional Combine and supplied consistent pressure for the Huskies in 2017 on a defence that struggled to get much pressure in Canada West.

3 (46). BC
BRYCE VIEIRA
RB | OTTAWA

Vieira was a consistent producer for the Gee-Gees’ offence during his time in Ottawa. With good size and quickness, Bryce could go earlier to any team interested in carrying a depth national running back. Those teams unfortunately for most backs in this draft are few and far between.

4 (47). BC
NICHOLAS BARTOLACCI
OL | SAINT MARY’S

Another depth lineman pick for the Lions.

5 (48). EDMONTON
MICHAEL COTE
LB | CONCORDIA

Cote has the size and mentality of a CFL linebacker right now but will have to refine his game to find playing time. Allow him to do that in Edmonton behind Adam Konar and friends.

6 (49). WINNIPEG
JEAN-GABRIEL POULIN
LB | WESTERN

Jean-Gabriel Poulin was the heart and soul of Western’s Vanier Cup Championship defence in 2017. He is a brick wall against most if not all U SPORTS running backs and receivers, able to effectively wall skill position players where he would like in zone coverage and battle through contact on pass rushes and special teams.

7 (50). CALGARY
BOSTON ROWE
LB | CALGARY

A solid safe depth pick that filled the stat sheet several times over for the Dinos during his tenure. Any Stampeders coaches that saw him play live will understand how fast Rowe gets to the football in the moment of need.

8 (51). MONTREAL
WILL ALTEMA
RB| MONTREAL

With the final piece of the SJ Green deal, the Alouettes will stay close to home. Altema has the best combination of size and speed at the running back position in this draft. Complemented by his quick cuts and ball security, he is comparable to former Carabins ball carrier and 2017 Ticats draft pick Sean Thomas-Erlington.

 

ROUND 7

1 (52). MONTREAL
MICHAEL BROUWERS
DL | MCMASTER

Brouwers tested better than expected and produced during his senior season at McMaster. Perhaps it’s enough to earn a flyer from a group looking to draft potential at all possible positions.

2 (53). EDMONTON
JACOB FIRLOTTE
DB | QUEEN’S

This pick was acquired by the Eskimos from Hamilton in exchange for receiver Shamawd Chambers. Jordan Hoover earned a role on the Eskimos last year as a tall ranger free safety. Firlotte could fit that mold.

3 (54). BC
JUSTIN BUREN
REC | SFU

Buren ran better than expected at the national combine after advancing from the Western Regional and complements his smooth routes with a tenacious ball fighting mentality. The Lions might want to keep Buren in the area to take a longer look at a value pick.

4 (55). OTTAWA
SIMON GINGRAS-GAGNON
REC | LAVAL

Overshadowed by his Laval teammates for various reasons (Moisan-Size, Dubois-Specials experience, Pierre-Athleticism) but don’t be fooled. Gingras-Gagnon is still a very solid player.

5 (56). HAMILTON
NOLAN McGREER
OL| CARLETON

Undersized but athletic, McGreer projects as a guard if he can add some strength and weight.

6 (57). EDMONTON
DASHAUN SMELLIE
REC | BISHOP’S

Canadian Duke Williams. Light. Big frame. Slow off the line but willing to jump for anything thrown his way.

7 (58). WINNIPEG
ALEX TAYLOR
RB | WESTERN

A bit too romantic to place the Mustangs standout and Winnipeg native with the Bombers? Perhaps, but it’s a mock draft, we’re already deep into fantasy land.

Taylor runs crisp routes and is great off tackle, but struggled in special teams drills at the combine. He could develop behind Andrew Harris and Kienan LaFrance. A Winnipeg native blue and gold running back party!

8 (59). CALGARY
NOAH AKHAROH
REC | WINDSOR

The Stamps continue to draft athleticism and improve team speed. Akharoh meets those standards despite being undersized.

9 (60). TORONTO
RYDER STONE
RB | DARTMOUTH

Stone has good burst through the line, isn’t afraid to run between the tackles and looked good in special teams drills at the combine.

 

ROUND 8

1 (61). MONTREAL
BEN KOCZWARA
OL | WATERLOO

A 2017 East-West bowl and 2018 Ontario Regional participant, Koczwara has solid size and feet capable of holding his own in training camp this May.

2 (62). HAMILTON
JUSTIN LAWRENCE
OL | ALBERTA

Amongst the most sound offensive line game tapes I watched, Lawrence is up against it with his uniquely short and wide frame but deserves a chance to develop in a pro football structure for his work at left guard for the Golden Bears.

3 (63). SASKATCHEWAN
BROCK MAKARIC
REC | MICHIGAN STATE

A developmental receiver possibly capable of back stopping and studying Rob Bagg for the next couple years.

4 (64). OTTAWA
NICHOLAS PARISOTTO
DB | GUELPH

Big. Physical. Special teams experience. Every team needs a host of Parisotto’s.

5 (65). EDMONTON
ARNAUD GENDRON-DUMOUCHEL
OL | MONTREAL

They sure do love their big offensive lineman in Edmonton. Matt O’Donnell, Justin Sorensen and trading James Franklin for last year’s 10th overall pick Mason Woods.

Why not add the freaky long frame of the Carabins raw tackle?

6 (66). HAMILTON
JEREMY MAGAN-FRANCE
DL | BISHOPS

A talented pass rusher who has bounced around the Canadian university scene more than once. Perhaps Magan-France finds a permanent home alongside Justin Vaughn in Hamilton.

7 (67). WINNIPEG
RASHARI HENRY
DL | LAURIER

The Bombers add defensive line depth and quality locker room character.

8 (68). CALGARY
JOEL VAN PELT
DL | CALGARY

All-Canadian frame and potential with testing numbers at the Western regional which hurt his case. I hope Van Pelt gets a chance and finds his game.

9 (69). TORONTO
LEKAN IDOWU
DB | WINDSOR

Undersized but deserves an opportunity.