University of Ottawa Athletics
TORONTO — The 2020 CFL Draft has come and gone and 73 individuals have been welcomed into the league.
There was a shock start to the draft followed up by eight exciting rounds of picks.
Following the conclusion of the draft, CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson took the time to chat about some of the biggest talking points from Thursday night.
More on the 2020 CFL Draft
1. Leos make a move
The 2020 Draft opened up with a bang, as the Calgary Stampeders shipped the first overall pick and the 15th pick to the BC Lions in exchange for the third and 12th picks, respectively.
With that, the Leos were able to address their defensive needs, selecting East Carolina linebacker Jordan Williams with the first overall pick.
After Carter O’Donnell made the move to the NFL, the rankings were jumbled, leaving Williams and defensive lineman Isaac Adeyemi Berglund as the presumptive top candidates to be taken at No. 1.
“I loved that BC was aggressive with the move. I think it was awesome way to kind of start off the draft with fireworks,” Ferguson. “So the aggression of BC and the self-awareness of Calgary and what they actually wanted to accomplish kind of stuck out to me.”
Calgary was able to move down to No. 3 and nab Adeyemi-Berglund at that spot. The Dartmouth, NS., native has shown tremendous ability as a pass-rusher during his time at Southeastern Louisiana and can step in right away and provide a solid National option on the defensive line for Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson.
“I thought that Calgary had a chance to be able to pair Nate Holly with Jordan Williams at middle and weakside linebacker,” Ferguson said. “That was something that I personally wouldn’t have been able to pass up but I’m not John Hufnagel, so he obviously knows what he wants to design and he knows what he needs to win in the Canadian Football League so he made the move down.”
With their swapped second-rounders, the Stamps were able to land UBC receiver Trivel Pinto while the Lions added a backup quarterback, taking Ohio’s Nathan Rourke at No. 15.
2. Surprises in the second round
Speaking of Pinto, he was projected to land in the fourth round, 24th overall, in Ferguson’s last mock draft. He went just outside the first round instead.
The standout from UBC served a suspension in 2019 for a banned substance. Despite that, his talent as a pass-catcher is undeniable. He can make people miss after the catch and his sub-4.5 40 time makes him one of the speediest receivers in the draft.
“I’m just really happy for him honestly,” Ferguson said. “Everybody makes mistakes but I don’t think that a mistake you make should mar your draft decision. I’m glad that CFl teams could see through that and see the person he is, the player he is and the calibre of athlete they were getting. It was good that he didn’t slide down the draft and I thought that it was really cool to see his reaction to getting picked and just how genuinely excited he was to have a home and to be a priority selection.”
Possibly the biggest surprise in the top half of the draft came a pick later when the Eskimos selected University of Ottawa defensive lineman Alain Pae.
During his post-draft availability, Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland mentioned that three teams were hoping to invite the native of Prague, Czech Republic to their mini-camps and another wanted to sign him to their 90-man roster.
Because he obtained his National status at the beginning of April, he was able to enter the draft. He only played one year with the Gee-Gees, but Pae proved enough to be among the top 20 selections this year.
“He’s already developed a lot in a short period of time since coming over from the Czech Republic,” Ferguson said. “The one season of U SPORTS football — it was his baseline and not even close to his ceiling — and he was excellent. He can be a ratio-changer as a defensive end.”
3. Standout Draft Classes
While it’s way too early to look at winners and losers from this class, there were a few teams that did stick out to Ferguson with solid classes.
The Double Blue were able to add early and often in the draft, holding the No. 2, 9 and 11 picks in the draft along with a territorial selection at 20.
They added to their new stable of National receivers, adding Virginia’s Dejon Brissett with the second selection. They bookended the round by addressing their offensive line, adding Regina blocker Theren Churchill. Toronto flipped to the defensive side of the ball in the second round, adding Carleton linebacker Jack Cassar and Laurier defensive lineman Sam Acheampong.
“The identified a need and they dealt with it at number two, then they get a big, angry, finishing offensive lineman at number nine,” Ferguson said. “They get a dominant special teamer and tackling machine with great size as a linebacker which is a bit rare national draft to get a linebacker with great size but jack Cassar has that at 11.
“Then they go and address another need which is definitely defensive line with a big long lanky defensive lineman with the territorial pick. Then they get even more size on the offensive line. It seemed like they kind of piled on and on and on and on, and accomplished things they wanted.”
Along with the Williams pick, the Lions were also able to land Rourke and running back Kayden Johnson with their later picks, which impressed Ferguson.
Lastly, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were standouts on draft night. They were able to land offensive lineman Coulter Woodmansey and double that up with defensive lineman Mason Bennett. They also added Tyler Ternowski and Acadia linebacker Bailey Feltmate to add to their depth.
“You can just see when they grab someone, it’s like ‘OK, that’s why they got them and that’s how they’re filling the need,'” Ferguson said. “Hamilton did a really good job — like Toronto — of identifying the needs and taking care of them with really talented players.”
4. Offensive linemen slide down the board
While the 2018 CFL Draft set a record for offensive lineman taken, this year was a bit of a different story.
Only four offensive linemen were selected in the first 20 picks, matching a 10-year low dating back to 2010.
There were still 15 individuals taken in total at the position, but the expected run of offensive linemen early in the draft never came.
Instead, teams opted to hold off on blocking talent through the first few rounds, leaving some big names for the taking at the back end.
“I don’t think it’s a terrible thing for the offensive line class. I think the defensive line and the athleticism of Canadians,” Ferguson said. “If they don’t pop off the tape and scream ‘I need to be drafted’ like Coulter Woodmansey did, then you wind up getting guys like Dylan Giffen, who’s a monster and top-rated in the scouting bureau, slides and slides because I think it’s easier to appreciate a defensive lineman on game tape.”
Names like Giffen and Chris Gangarossa wound up lasting longer than their initial draft projections, leaving teams with some solid choices near the end. They certainly won’t be complaining about their luck, however.
5. Who was the biggest steal of the draft?
When it comes to late-round selections, there were a few head-scratching individuals that manage to slide down the board into the back half of the selections.
One of those individuals was Laval offensive lineman Ketel Asse. Considered to be one of the best linemen available by draft pundits, he managed to fall all the way into the final round. The Ottawa REDBLACKS jumped at the opportunity to select the talented tackle, swooping in to take him with the 65th overall pick.
The collective eyes of fans were also planted on Chase Claypool and Neville Gallimore. The pair of NFL draftees were expected to go late in the draft — if at all. The Saskatchewan Roughriders were in a position they couldn’t pass up and nabbed Gallimore with the 71st pick in the draft.
The pair of teams were able to find some great value at the tail end of the draft and it could pay off in spades if Asse works out and Gallimore makes his way to Riderville at some point.
But who offered the better value?
“I don’t know why he slid; I don’t get it,” Ferguson said of Asse. “But if he turns into the player that I thought he was at Laval, then he’s the steal of the draft. …In terms of a steal with value, Ketel Asse would probably be the one. For whatever reason, he fell and Ottawa took the chance.
“That being said, if Neville Gallimore ever shows up in the CFL and plays, he’s going to dominate.”
Roughriders fans will be hoping to see the standout from Oklahoma don the Green and White at some point down the road.