Mock 2.0: Who will be selected?
The virtual CFL Combine presented by New Era is the books and the 2021 CFL Draft is just a week away.
CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson offers up his second and final mock draft before the Draft.
The brother of former top pick Faith Ekakite and cousin of Wilfrid Laurier drafted pass rusher Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, Daniel Joseph has the combination of size, speed and raw pass rush ability you expect in a player worthy of landing near the top of draft boards.
Joseph spent 2020 at NC State after transferring from Penn State and started eight of the eleven games he played in 2020 while leading the Wolfpack with 6.5 sacks on the year. Here the Ticats solidify depth behind 2020 CFL first round draft pick Mason Bennett, while adding ratio flexibility, make no mistake. The play here is for pure talent to place opposite Ja’Gared Davis.
Bandy might not reach this high in the draft, but when you are the marquee blocker on a team with as many pro-worthy prospects as the *still* Vanier Cup defending champion Calgary Dinos do, I like the odds.
Saskatchewan will dearly miss the absence of Dariusz Bladek who left in free agency for Toronto and Dakoda Shepley who signed with the San Francisco 49ers, unless they target top-end talent in this draft. Without another pick until 17th overall, the time and place is here at second overall to take their pass blocker of choice and allow Cody Fajardo to develop comfortably.
|The Bombers steal the Saskatchewan Huskies product after the Riders focus on pass protection and scoop up the 2019 U SPORTS Defensive Player Of The Year. Nelson’s natural CFL fit – despite being slightly undersized – is at free safety. While Winnipeg is predominantly American on the back end, he can earn his reps on special teams alongside the Hallett brothers as Nick and Noah stand alone waving the maple leaf in the Bombers’ secondary.|
The star of combine season, Hladik posted looney tunes numbers to match his monstars frame. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, the BC native ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and lifted 225 pounds 29 times on the bench press. Hladik is much more than a number though. He was a defensive captain for the Thunderbirds in 2018 and 2019 to go along with back-to-back Canada West All-Star and U SPORTS All-Canadian nods.
It takes a special linebacker to go this high and Hladik has proven to be special. He adds immediate depth to a suddenly very Canadian linebacking group including 2020’s first-overall pick Jordan Williams.
|Averaging nearly a sack per game while being named to the all-MAC first team, Diallo is all of six-foot-four and 305 pounds, with the ability to play immediately in a suddenly forceful Canadian front line in Edmonton featuring Kwaku Boateng, Mathieu Betts, with Diallo anchoring the middle in a rotation with any American tasked to replace Almondo Sewell.|
|Ottawa has promise with Matt Nichols and Paul LaPolice reuniting, but who will they direct targets towards? Nationals under contract in Ottawa include Anthony Coombs, Marco Dubois, Wesley Lewis, Dan Petermann and of course, Brad Sinopoli. Few of these players have the combination of frame, route running, lower body explosion and smooth hands that Jana put on display against NCAA opponents in 2020.|
|The versatile Maine Black Bears defender just finished a spring game schedule with the Black Bears where he led the team in tackles most afternoons. A Toronto native and two-time captain of the Canadian National Team, Stevens quickly suits up on special teams while preparing to shine behind Cameron Judge and Henoc Muamba.|
|The last couple years have been uncharacteristically difficult for the Stamps offensive line health and depth. While Lestage might get an NFL look and has the frame/skills to stick down south, I believe the pick for Calgary here has to be made with Bo Levi Mitchell’s protection in mind and there are few better prepared to do that quickly than Lestage.|
|Unlike many U SPORTS prospects, Sage will have recent reps to be game-ready for Hamilton as his New Mexico State Aggies recently wrapped up a two game stint of a spring season to make good on the COVID-ravaged 2020 fall schedule. His feet will need some tidying in the pros to solve balance concerns, but you can’t disagree with a motivated and experienced six-foot-seven, 350 pound frame from just down the road in Welland. He’s a succession plan alongside Jesse Gibbon and Coulter Woodmansey for when Chris Van Zeyl calls it quits.|
1 (10). MONTREAL
|One of the longest wingspans at the 2021 Senior Bowl, St. Juste is more than a special teamer but his raw frame makes him playable immediately on coverage and return teams with a bright future roaming between the numbers at free safety.|
2 (11). CALGARY
|After a year away from McMahon, Deane Leonard returns to where he spent the majority of his college days as a Dino stand out to solidify Calgary’s Canadian back end. He’s a perfect substitute for the loss of Tunde Adeleke in free agency in 2019.|
3 (12). TORONTO
|With elite linebacker depth targeted in round one, Toronto begins to gather national offensive lineman help with Ottawa native Liam Dobson, who will spend 2021 at Texas State after transferring from Maine where he was named an All-Conference All-Star. He also started all 12 games and performed as Maine’s highest graded offensive lineman for every start of 2019.|
4 (13). OTTAWA
Last year I mocked Laval DB Adam Auclair to Ottawa for defensive coordinator Mike Benevides to have a plan after Antoine Pruneau retires. This year, the new shiny toy is for Paul LaPolice who will use Borsa’s standout speed, quickness and vision to great success in the Nic Demski role of the 2019 Grey Cup Champion Bombers alongside 2020 free agent addition Anthony Coombs.
Borsa’s best fit in this draft is unquestionably Ottawa. Will it be this early? Will someone snatch him up before Marcel Desjardins can for LaPolice? This is one of my favourite storylines heading into May 4.
5 (14). EDMONTON
|Brock Sunderland knows how to build out a roster. With the receiving group ready to produce with Jaime Elizondo and Trevor Harris, the focus has to be on protection and Bell offers a positional flexibility that makes him attractive in an already talented group of Edmonton blockers.|
6 (15). BC
BC might prioritize other positions here, but if they want to add more Canadian playmaking on defence behind their suddenly stout group of Canadian linebackers, why not pick up Rene as a future Lion once he completes his time at Rutgers in the fall of 2021?
Despite an ACL tear in 2019, Patrice has the ability to push for a role with the Lions secondary, regardless of his passport.
7 (16). WINNIPEG
|An All-Canadian from Regina who left the Rams for UBC, Nick Cross is an explosive tackler with a natural instinct for offensive flow which explains his U SPORTS-leading tackle numbers. In Winnipeg, Cross gets to refine his natural talent watching Adam Bighill while learning how to operate in the pros with a slightly undersized frame, something Bighill has overcome to be one of the CFL’s best.|
8 (17). SASKATCHEWAN
|A multisport athlete, Johnson has played quarterback as well as receiver and power forward for the Bulls. A few years ago Saskatchewan took two receivers in the top-20 so another might seem like overkill, but the six-foot-four frame and D1 pedigree of Johnson paired with Kyran Moore, Shaq Evans, William Powell and Cody Fajardo is difficult to pass up here.|
9 (18). HAMILTON
|Where Jackson will fall in the draft is anyone’s guess. If he gets anywhere near the middle of round two, teams will have to start weighing value against need. With Jackson’s pick here, the Ticats can walk away from the top-20 with a starting caliber rush end (Joseph) elite sized offensive tackle (Doxtater) and Big 10 experienced immediate main stay (Jackson).|
1 (19). Hamilton
DB | West Virginia
A New Hampshire transfer, Addae has earned his way up the NCAA showcase to be an important part of the Mountaineer defence in 2020 with two interceptions, seven passes defended and 66 tackles. He offers Edmonton NCAA experience and coverage skills that current nationals Jordan Beaulieu, Eric Blake and Scott Hutter lack.
2 (20). Saskatchewan
DE | UBC
He tested about as well as any front seven member in 2019 outside of UBC teammate Ben Hladik. Someone will take him before long for special teams. Winnipeg and Saskatchewan ring a bell due to their head coaches valuing special teams.
3 (21). Winnipeg
OL | Calgary
The Bombers add another big body with big game experience. Packer is a solid, smart depth pick with minimal crafting needing to be CFL ready.
4 (22). BC
REC | Toronto
Corby could go in the second round, but I imagine him falling a bit to a team who already has a plan in place at Canadian receiver. BC feels like a natural landing spot.
5 (23). Edmonton
REC | Tennessee
The top-rated player by the final Central Scouting Bureau, Edmonton doesn’t NEED Palmer right now, which is good, because they aren’t going to get him anytime soon thanks to well-earned NFL interest. Similar to Tevaughn Smith, take the player, wait it out and reap the rewards.
6 (24). Ottawa
LB | Oklahoma State
The REDBLACKS have invested heavily in line play traditionally during the CFL Draft, but taking a potential future star at linebacker would be an interesting heel turn. Ogbongbemiga is a physical specimen who uses his solid base and quick reaction skills to diagnose and attack with great success.
7 (25). Toronto
REC | McMaster
Nield tested better than I thought he would and undoubtedly has the frame to contribute. Toronto has a loaded receiver room with 2020 top pick Dejon Brissett leading the way but there could be a place for Nield in a depth role.
8 (26). Calgary
RB | Oklahoma State
The mystery of this draft. Hubbard is an incredible talent who should get to the CFL, stick and have a very profitable career, but running backs are so disposable these days and the NFL is a cruel business. One injury or poor season and Hubbard could come North, quickly becoming one of the marquee offensive Canadians in the CFL.
9 (27). Montreal
DB | Montreal
Danny Maciocia nabs another Carabin alum with above average size for special teams use. Kramdi could even put some weight on and become a natural weak side linebacker in the CFL.
1 (28). Montreal
OL | Calgary
Measuring in at six-foot-six and 364 pounds, Carter Comeau is a mountain of a man who still moves relatively well considering his size. Montreal might be looking for a smaller, quicker guard to develop but a man this size, with William Stanback running downhill, would make some sense.
2 (29). Calgary
LB | Calgary
Grant McDonald doesn’t tackle; he hunts with an ever increasing speed as he nears the target. Forget about all the positional needs required to get on field against a CFL offence and join me in a world where McDonald becomes one of the best young special teams tacklers for Mark Kilam’s special teams unit.
3 (30). Toronto
DB | Bemidji State
After three seasons with the Manitoba Bisons, Weekes spent 2020 with Bemidji State. I’m not sure there is a true fit in Toronto but I enjoyed watching his Bisons game film too much to see Shae slide out of the top-30.
4 (31). Ottawa
DL | Carleton
A former CJFL All-Canadian who led the league in sacks during the 2018 season, Charles-Brown has some of the most enjoyable highlights in this draft brought about through his relentless foot drive and physical demeanour.
5 (32). Edmonton
DL | Alberta
With a thinner talent pool in 2021 – especially at the U SPORTS level – Nelson might slide under the radar beyond the halfway point. If he does, I expect those in Edmonton with Golden Bear access to scoop up the powerful pass rusher.
6 (33). Toronto
DB | Mount Allison
Brampton native Matt Watson could have excelled at any OUA school, but he jumps off the screen in AUS competition by simply playing faster than most around him.
7 (34). Winnipeg
OL | Acadia
AUS offensive line play rarely gets love, but this Axemen grad should get drafted and where better than Winnipeg for one-on-one training camp duels with 10-year Acadia grad and first man to touch the Grey Cup in 2019, Jake Thomas.
8 (35). Saskatchewan
RB | Shepherd
At five-foot-nine and 215 pounds, Deonte Glover packs a punch. Originally a walk-on at West Virginia, Glover opted for the D-2 route and spent three seasons tearing up turf for the Shepherd Rams including 2,100 all purpose yards in 2019.
9 (36). Hamilton
K | Laval
For the first time in a while the Hamilton kicking operation from snap to kick is an open book. Cote is a strangely athletic specimen for a kicker whose well rounded skill set should suit Hamilton’s vision for roster construction.