April 1, 2024

MMQB: 4 burning questions to kickoff April

Dave Chidley/CFL.ca

Happy April friends!

As we begin a new month, I have an important public service announcement: this is the final month without CFL football before training camps and the 2024 preseason get going. As April begins, we have a few important questions still to be answered as the off-season winds towards its conclusion.

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The 2024 CFL Draft: See where your team picks

What do the Elks do at No. 1 overall?

With the CFL Combine presented by New Era behind us, all eyes are focused on the 2024 CFL Draft on April 30. The Edmonton Elks hold this year’s first overall selection, which begs the annual question: do they keep the pick or make a trade between now and the end of the month?

“Nobody’s really called or anything,” said Edmonton head coach and general manager Chris Jones at the Combine. “But you’ve always got to be willing to listen.”

Listen is exactly what Jones did the last time the Elks were slated to select first overall. 2022 saw Jones, in one of his first big moves back in Edmonton, trade the No. 1 overall pick to Montreal in the moments leading up to the draft. In exchange, the Elks moved down three picks to fourth and received the rights to offensive lineman Carter O’Donnell.

In fact, in three of the last six drafts (2022, 2020, 2018), the team holding the first overall selection has ended up moving it. If Edmonton decides to make the selection, though, Jones and his football operations department have some interesting options in front of them.

“There’s about four to five guys that I did not really have highlighted that, now, you could take somewhere,” Jones told CFL.ca at the Combine. “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.”

Who earns top spot in the final CFL Scouting Bureau rankings?

Illinois offensive lineman Isaiah Adams topped January’s rankings from the CFL Scouting Bureau, the last list published prior to the final release later this month. Adams was one of the biggest risers in the midterm rankings, going from No. 5 on the preliminary list all the way to the top.


But as we know, the top of the Bureau’s rankings doesn’t always translate directly to the draft order. Projected to go anywhere between the third and fifth round in this month’s NFL Draft, Adams will drop in the CFL order as a result. The same could be true for other highly ranked players like Arizona tight end Tanner McLachlan and Penn State tight end Theo Johnson.

What does A.C. Leonard decide?

Let’s turn our attention to the unquestioned No. 1 free agent name yet to sign this off-season. Leonard, who finished tied for second overall with 12 sacks last season in Edmonton, remains without a contract just over a month away from training camp.

Ranked 10th on our board of the top 30 free agents this winter, Leonard has recorded nine or more sacks in three of his last four seasons. On top of his 12 sacks last year, Leonard racked up 45 defensive tackles and two forced fumbles. At 32, Leonard could start at defensive end anywhere in the CFL.

But the question is…will he? There’s been plenty of retirement buzz in recent weeks surrounding Leonard, but with no official announcement, the door remains open for him to sign somewhere. It’s one of the most interesting stories to watch as we move closer to training camps.

Are there are any savvy free agent signings left?

Leonard isn’t the only established and capable veteran still on the market as free agency approaches two months old. Here are a few other names that could step in and help a team right away if signed.

Avery Williams, LB

While injuries and the addition of Darnell Sankey affected Williams’ season in 2023, we’re still talking about a linebacker who can play. Williams, who can suit up at the MIKE or WILL linebacker position, is only a season removed from racking up a career high 92 defensive tackles with Ottawa.

Winston Rose, DB

While the interception numbers have dropped since he racked up nine in 2019, Rose has still been a capable part of Winnipeg’s defensive backfield the last two seasons. 2023 saw Rose start at both the boundary and field corner positions while recording one interception and 32 defensive tackles in 10 appearances.

Daniel Robertson was an important piece of the Argos’ defence last year and is still available to contribute to a team in 2024 (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

Robertson Daniel, DB

Speaking of capable DB’s, it remains a surprise to see Daniel unsigned. In 11 appearances with Toronto last season, Daniel put up eye-popping totals from his boundary halfback position. The veteran playmaker finished with 55 defensive tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and one defensive touchdown.

Jamal Morrow, RB

While there was reported interest from Calgary just prior to free agency opening, Morrow remains unsigned as April gets going and the 29-year-old tailback is coming off his best CFL campaign yet. In his third season with Saskatchewan, 2023 saw Morrow rack up 907 rushing yards and four touchdowns on an impressive 202 carries.

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