May 1, 2023

2023 CFL Draft arrives with options for REDBLACKS

Christian Bender/, Fresno State Athletics, Pittsburgh Athletics

General manager Shawn Burke and the Ottawa REDBLACKS are set to have plenty of options in front of them on Tuesday, May 2, when the CFL Draft gets underway.

On the heels of a record-setting NFL Draft for Canadian players, the options the REDBLACKS have with the first overall pick figuratively rest in front of them like a drawer full of forks in their franchise-planning road.

With five Canadian players chosen over the weekend in the NFL Draft and two others signing as undrafted free agents, there are three players left from the top-10 in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s spring rankings. Of those three, defensive lineman Lwal Uguak has received a mini-camp invite from the New York Giants, per 3DownNation’s John Hodge. Southern Utah d-lineman Francis Bemiy and Fresno State offensive lineman Dante Bull are the lone top-10 ranked players without an NFL connection as of yet.

» View the entire 2023 CFL Draft Order
» Everything you need to know ahead of the 2023 CFL Draft
Where To Watch: 2023 CFL Draft broadcast info
» Mock Draft 2.0: Who is going first overall?
» Stock Assessment: Receivers and defensive backs
» Stock Assessment: Running backs and linebackers
» Stock Assessment: Breaking down the trenches
» More CFL Draft news and notes


Those NFL opportunities are well-earned and could be life-changing for the Canadian prospects involved. CFL scouts and GMs are in turn using the final hours ahead of the CFL Draft’s 8 p.m. ET start to finalize their strategies for what is always a complex evening for them. While you can expect many of the Canadians with NFL opportunities to have their names called at some point later in the night,’s Marshall Ferguson doesn’t see teams completely shying away from some talented players as they pursue their options in the NFL.

“Ottawa has five picks in the top-20,” he said last week on a pre-draft media call alongside his TSN cohort Duane Forde.

“They have so much flexibility in terms of taking players that you hope you can get vs. players that you know you can get in camp this year. They’ve done the futures pick thing in the past. For me, I think it’s worth taking someone that might be in question, but could be a definite game changer for you. For me, that’s Jared Wayne.”

Ferguson has Wayne — the Peterborough, Ont. product that played receiver at Pittsburgh the last four years — as his top pick in the second edition of his mock draft.

“That one jumps out to me if they decide to go receiver,” Ferguson said. “Not that they need to. The great thing for Ottawa is that they have a lot of picks and they also have, I think a great variety of needs that they could fix with those picks in the top-20.”

On the other side of the call, Forde looked to the one player in the Scouting Bureau’s top-10 that fully participated in the CFL Combine presented by New Era in Edmonton back in March. That’s Bemiy, who showed well amongst his peers, jumping up from his winter ranking spot of 12 to 10 in the spring edition.

Southern Utah’s Francis Bemiy jumped up two spots to No. 10 in the spring edition of the CFL Scouting Bureau (Christian Bender/

“I think there’s some some versatility there, some upside. A guy who has been, I think a little bit more productive than Lwal Uguak has been at d-line,” Forde said. “He’s a guy that intrigues me at that position, should they choose to go that way.”

It’s often said that the real work of the CFL Draft begins once you get past those first couple of rounds. Every year the draft provides later round picks that make scouts and GMs look like talent-assessing geniuses. There’s been Kian Schaffer-Baker (fourth round, 2020), Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (third round, 2019), Tunde Adeleke (third round, 2017), Kwaku Boateng (fifth round, 2017) and David Menard (fourth round, 2014) just to name a few.

There are undoubtedly players tucked just under the radar in this year’s draft class that are eager to hear their name — whenever it’s called — and get into camp to start to build their reputation and uphold the rep of the team that drafted them for their evaluation prowess. Forde and Ferguson had a few guesses at who some of those players might be.

“For me personally, one of the guys that that jumped out a little bit at the combine when you talk about maybe that third, fourth round range was University of Ottawa receiver Daniel Oladejo,” Forde said.

“He’s not the biggest guy, not one of the guys who kind of came in with with much or any hype, but in terms of that that five-day window,  and using that as part of the whole makeup of your scouting process, he to me might have been my biggest winner of combine week.

“Just in terms of the things he did and the confidence with which he did them, the way he carried himself. That’s a guy that isn’t necessarily in that group with Jared Wayne and Clark Barnes and Cole Tucker at the top of the draft, but depending on what happens at the receiver position, if a team is looking for some depth he’s a guy that certainly helped himself during that week.”

Ferguson said he and Forde were blown away by the size of the defensive backs class this year. Ferguson has broken it down in more detail for us here, but said he was enticed by the number of prospects that were over six-feet tall with long wingspans.

“There’s so many of those type of players in the draft,” Ferguson said.

“I’ll be interested to see where (University of Alberta DB) Jacob Taylor goes, because I think that that might be indicative. (Siriman) Bagayogo and Jake Taylor, with Jonathan Sutherland at Penn State, I think those are the top-three defensive backs in my mind.

Guelph’s Siriman Bagayogo fits the bill as a tall defensive back with a big wingspan, something that will carry weight with teams on Tuesday night (Christian Bender/

“From there, whether it’s second, third, fourth, that you’re talking about that tweener range of not a depth pick, not a hit-and-hope, kind of somebody you see a lot of promise in but you’re not sure if you can spend a first or a second on them. Lucas Cormier out of Mount Allison I think is super fun and I would be very interested to see where he goes. Jake Kelly from Bishop’s was a testing monster. I think that he’s got a lot of promise, Charlie Ringland (Saskatchewan Huskies) obviously had the knee injury when he was at the combine. I’ll be interested to see where he goes but when he’s healthy, I think he has a lot of hope in front of him. Jacob Biggs from Calgary as well.”

Ferguson also mentioned Breton MacDougall from Windsor and Cody Hale out of the University of Toronto. Hale was at the Invitational combine but didn’t get the invite to the national event in Edmonton.

“The group was so full,” he said. “I think in a different year Cody Hill might have gotten that call and been advancing from the regional or invitational combine. So the defensive back group, I think there’s really good value there that goes far beyond the first or second round.”

To jump back to the REDBLACKS, it should be worth mentioning that they don’t necessarily have to draft anyone at first overall. The top pick has been traded in two of the last three years and in a year where NFL interest has been exceptionally high at the top of draft boards, the idea of trading the pick as part of a means of addressing an immediate need on a team’s roster is always an option.

Global Draft set for 11 a.m. Tues. May 2 

Before the eight-round CFL Draft gets underway on Tuesday evening, wet your draft whistle with the CFL’s Global Draft at 11 a.m. ET.

The REDBLACKS also hold the first overall pick in that draft. The fifth edition of the Global Draft will have two rounds this year. Last year, the Toronto Argonauts used the fourth overall pick on Australian punter John Haggerty, who provided an immediate impact for the eventual Grey Cup champions. Haggerty was named an East Division All-Star in his rookie season.

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