April 30, 2024

Global Draft: Elks take LB Eteva Mauga-Clements No. 1

Cameron Bartlett/CFL.ca

TORONTO — The Edmonton Elks got a big day for their franchise started by taking linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements with the first overall pick in the 2024 CFL Global Draft.

Mauga-Clements, an American-Samoan who played at Nebraska, set himself apart from the other Global prospects with a strong showing at the CFL Combine presented by New Era, held last month in Winnipeg.

“Eteva is a player we’ve targeted from the beginning of the Global process. He’s a high level player who will contribute on special teams from the first day of camp,” Elks assistant general manager Geroy Simon said.

» View the entire 2024 CFL Global Draft
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 Everything you need to know ahead of the 2024 CFL Draft
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Mauga-Clements impressed the Elks with his performance at the CFL Combine last month in Winnipeg (Andrew Mahon/CFL.ca)

The six-foot, 218-pounder ran a 4.73-second 40-yard dash, posted a 35-inch vertical leap, ran a 4.14-second shuttle and a 6.90-second 3 cone drill. He is the second consecutive American-Samoan player to go first overall, after the Ottawa REDBLACKS took defensive lineman Blessman Ta’ala with the first pick last year.

Clements played at Diablo Valley Community College before making the move to Nebraska in 2020. He dressed for every game of his senior year in 2022, starting two games at linebacker. He had 39 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Mauga-Clements was an academic All-Big 10 in 2021 and 2022 and he graduated with a degree in criminology and criminal justice.

The REDBLACKS used the second overall pick to take Australian punter Matt Hayball out of Vanderbilt. Hayball has signed as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints.

The kicker/punter pick was a popular one in the first round, with Hamilton, BC, Toronto and Montreal all going in that direction with the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth overall spots, respectively.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders went with USC defensive lineman Tyrone Taleni at third overall, while the Calgary Stampeders took New Mexico State receiver Ron Tiavaasue (New Zealand) fourth overall.

Taleni spent two collegiate seasons at the University of Southern California (2022-2023), suiting up for 22 games as a Trojan. He tallied 36 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks and one forced fumble. In 2022, he was named All-Pac-12 Second Team after a breakout season on defence.

Prior to transferring to USC, Taleni spent two seasons (2021-2022) at Kansas State, where he played four games and tallied five tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks. The Samoa native started his collegiate career at Mt. San Antonio College where he earned 26 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks over one season.

Tiavaasue played tight end at New Mexico State. As a member of the Aggies in 2023, he had three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown as well as two carries for 24 yards and one major. He has been invited to take part in the upcoming rookie mini-camp of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Elks stayed on the defensive side of the ball with their second and final pick of the Global Draft, taking defensive lineman David Olajiga, who played at Central Missouri.

Olajiga played the last three seasons at the University of Central Missouri (2021-2023), recording 98 total tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 32 games for the Mules. He was named a Don Hansen Honorable Mention All-American in 2022. Prior to joining Central Missouri, the six-foot-three product of London, England, played at Butler County Community College in Kansas in 2020.

Olajiga’s selection set the tone for a defensively-minded second round, where five of the nine teams took defensive players.

The REDBLACKS took linebacker Heston Lameta — another American-Samoan player — 11th overall, while the Stamps went with defensive lineman Julius Welschof at 13th overall.

“We are proud to select both Matt and Heston,” REDBLACKS general manager Shawn Burke said of his club’s picks. “We look forward to seeing them contribute to our strong tradition of global talent.”

Welschof has signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The German d-lineman completed his collegiate career at UNC-Charlotte in 2023 – recording four tackles in four games for the 49ers – after three seasons at Michigan. In 34 games with the Wolverines, Welschof had 23 tackles and a half-sack.

The Toronto Argonauts took defensive lineman Denzel Daxon at 16th overall and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers chose defensive back Lucky Ogbevoen out of the European League of Football at 17th overall.

Saskatchewan and BC both chose punters in the second round, with the Riders taking TCU’s Jordy Sandy 12th overall and the Lions taking Tory Taylor out of Iowa at 15th overall.

Hamilton took receiver Thomas Yassmin at 14th overall and the Montreal Alouettes used the final pick in the draft to take offensive lineman Nouredin Nouili 18th overall. Like Mauga-Clements, Nouili played at Nebraska, allowing two Cornhuskers to booked the 2024 edition of the Global Draft.

The Elks will kickoff the CFL Draft tonight at 8 p.m. ET as they make the first overall pick there as well. Fans can watch on TSN and RDS and can follow along all night on CFL.ca.

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