We Asked: What should the Elks do with the No. 1 pick?

When you have the first overall pick in any draft, you have to weigh all of your options.

Edmonton Elks general manager and head coach Chris Jones is in the middle of that with his staff right now.

“Nobody’s really called or anything,” Jones said on Saturday of any interest in someone trying to trade for the top pick in the 2024 CFL Draft, “but you’ve always got to be willing to listen.”

The Elks have plans in place for both scenarios, Jones said, and those plans are only deepening as he and his staff continue to evaluate talent at the CFL Combine presented by New Era, taking place through this weekend in Winnipeg.

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On Saturday, Jones and his staff went from watching the prospects practice at Winnipeg Soccer North Federation straight back to their hotel for the afternoon. Jones had pizza lined up to be delivered to his room for the group and they were diving in on a mock draft until they went into player interviews later in the evening.

“There’s about four to five guys that I did not really have highlighted that, now, you could take somewhere,” he said. “You watch them on film and you don’t see them in person, then when you get to see them in person…like I said, I didn’t have them highlighted and now I do.”

Chatting with Jones while he evaluated talent on the field on Saturday, he didn’t bite on the direct, ‘Who do you like out here?’ question (he did give a chuckle over the attempt, for whatever that’s worth). So we took that question to a collection of media observers on hand at the Combine to see what the Elks might be thinking when it comes to what they do with the top pick in the CFL Draft on April 30.

Marshall Ferguson, TSN/CFL.ca

“I think Joel Dublanko is an interesting one for a lot of reasons. I’m not sure that they need or would want him at first overall, maybe that becomes a trade situation. I would also say that I think Edmonton has to be very specific positionally about what they want to do moving forward because they’ve been very smart in targeting, ‘Let’s go get a receiver. Let’s go get this and that.’ I think defensive line is an interesting one for them after trading Jake Ceresna (to Toronto), where they could probably upgrade there and try to add some ratio.”

Duane Forde, TSN

“It’s possible that the person they take isn’t here. Taking nothing away from the guys that are here because I think it’s a very good group and deep. But some of the best guys aren’t here and if a couple of those guys don’t end up in NFL camp and playing the odds you feel like you could get one of them back, it could be one of those guys.

“I may have a certain bias. My favourite guy in this draft is Kyle Hergle at Boston College, but I think he’s going to end up in the NFL somewhere. The one maybe (knock) with him has to do with his height because he’s not that tall (he’s six-foot-two) but I love the guy. He’s a kid I’ve met before, he’s a Mississauga guy, but he’s a kid that I think could have an immediate impact on a team’s offensive line. A guy who if he were here, if you knew he was going to be in camp, that guy I think who could be that relatively rare o-line Day 1 starter who’s playing in the league for 10 years.”

Joel Dublanko has looked pro-ready and impressed many at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg (Cameron Bartlett/CFL.ca)

Farhan Lalji, TSN

“This is a good line class but in terms of the guys you want, you don’t know if they’re going to be available right away. So, do I think there’s four guys who aren’t going to be here right away? Probably. Then there’s four guys who I think can play in the league but they might not be plug and play guys in Year 1.

“I think Joel Dublanko is a plug and play guy. I think he can step in there right now. I think he can change Edmonton’s ratio. I think they’ve been looking to change it at linebacker for a little bit. They drafted Michael Brodrique and whether it’s (Makonzo) or some of these guys that they thought, ‘Oh, we can play them at WILL and figure it out,’ this guy can be a Day 1 MAC and start right now. When you look at his pedigree, it’s Chris Jones, right? So I totally think Joel will be No. 1.”

Jim Barker, TSN 

“I’m going to predict (Auburn receiver) Nick Mardner. See, nobody else has said that.

“He’s probably the most pro-ready guy, he played in Hawaii, then he transferred to Cincinnati and then went to Auburn. He just plays like a veteran and so I’m going to go on a limb and say they’ll go with Nick Madner.

“I’m just looking at it from the standpoint of what they need and it’s important for them to get a starting receiver. Their only two Canadian receivers are (Gavin) Cobb and Vincent Forbes-Mombleau and then they got Kurleigh (Gittens Jr.) and Kurleigh is not going to play the first five or six games, is possibly going to be on the six-game list. So with Kurleigh there, if he’s not going to be ready you have to have somebody like Mardner that is a legitimate guy.”

Derek Taylor, CJOB aka the voice of the Blue Bombers

“For me, I would gravitate to and I have very minimal knowledge this, but…the way I would love to see (Jones) do it is to take a guy like Dublanko. He’s your middle linebacker now or next year and if you’re all Canadian at linebacker? Amazing.”

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