May 9, 2024

Top of the Depth Chart: Edmonton Elks

Kevin Sousa/

These top of the depth articles are always a challenge, no matter how much you love your team there are inevitably surprises and tweaks that none of us could ever have imagined once the dust settles at the end of camp. Let’s be honest, that’s part of the fun in the world’s fastest training camp sprint, the changes come furiously before the games begin for real.

Nowhere across the CFL is this more true than with the Edmonton Elks. Yes, the Ottawa REDBLACKS have also struggled in recent years and are ripe for some personnel overhauling, but much of their work has been done in the lead to camp, while Chris Jones teams always seem to have the greatest amount of alterations coming during or after camp while other rosters start to settle.

» First-And-Joel: Elks select Dublanko first overall in 2024 CFL Draft
 A team-by-team look at the 2024 CFL Draft
» 2024 CFL Draft Tracker: View who else did the Elks select?
» 5 Things to Know: Edmonton Elks
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All of this is to say, your guess is as good as one on a variety of these positions. While there are locks like quarterback and some receiver spots, many more await their answer over the coming weeks.


Receiver Running back Quarterback Fullback Offensive line
Eugene Lewis Kevin Brown McLeod Bethel-Thompson Tanner Green* Martez Ivey (LT)
Kurleigh Gittens Jr.* David Foucault* (LG)
Dillon Mitchell Mark Korte* (C)
Kyran Moore Tomas Jack-Kurdyla* (RG)
Brett Boyko* (RT)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


MacBeth is back, baby! Earlier this off-season I wrote about why McLeod Bethel-Thompson returning to the CFL is both great for the game and Edmonton fans, while being tough, and potentially great for National pivot Tre Ford. With MacBeth at the controls, all the volatility surrounding the Elks immediately got quieter and more stabilized.


RB Kevin Brown had 1,141 rushing yards and four majors in 2023 (Kevin Sousa/

Kevin Brown will continue his growth at starting running back after a stellar 2023 while Tanner Green will be pushed by recent draft pick Bradley Hladik as starting fullback due to his long snapping upside.


At receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. isn’t expected to start the season healthy which could mean a chance for any of Gavin Cobb or Hergy Mayala to lay down some serious game tape. Once Gittens Jr. is healthy, expect to see him team up with Eugene Lewis, Dillon Mitchell and Kyran Moore for – what on paper – is arguably the best receiver group in the CFL if they can get the ball there appropriately.


The offensive line will be National heavy with Mark Korte leading the way. Right tackle is in question as a ratio swing spot but Foucault and Jack-Kurdyla at guards should be locks when healthy.


Defensive line Linebacker Defensive back
Robert Nkemdiche (DE) Tony Jones (WLB) Donovan Olumba (CB)
Sam Acheampong* (DT) Joel Dublanko* (MLB) TBD (HB)
J-Min Pelley* (DT) Loucheiz Purifoy (SLB) Marloshawn Franklin Jr. (S)
Elliott Brown (DE) Darrius Bratton (HB)
Kai Gray (CB)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


Across the defensive line Jake Ceresna is gone to Toronto in the Gittens Jr. trade so it could be J-Min Pelley and Sam Acheampong with a pair of American defensive ends. Former top NFL pick Robert Nkemdiche is the most interesting of the bunch.



The man in the middle right from the start should be first overall draft pick Joel Dublanko in my mind, although that does push standout Nyles Morgan to the weak side or in a backup role which hardly makes sense based on play alone. Tony Jones could backup Morgan at weak side linebacker and the ageless wonder Loucheiz Purifoy should lock down the sixth defensive back spot at SAM linebacker.


A whopping TWENTY ONE defensive backs currently call the Edmonton roster home. While there are certainties like Kai Gray, the rest are projections and musings as to who will find Jones’ favour through camp and beyond with many of the names listed having 2023 starting experience for Edmonton including Darrius Bratton who I believe could start at either halfback spot Week 1.


Kicker/Punter Long snapper Returner
Boris Bede/Jake Julien* Bradley Hladik* Javon Leake

* denotes National
** denotes Global


Boris Bede and Javon Leake immediately upgrade the special teams unit in what should be a quickly and powerfully measurable way with Bede’s booming boot flipping field position on kickoffs specifically, about four-to-seven yards per exchange on average.


Jake Julien returns after averaging 45.4 yards per punt in 2023, while second-round pick Hladik brings long-snapping experience.

THAT is the best guess at a 2024 Edmonton Elks team that needs to win now and quickly. They know it, you know it, and we all know it. The moves made in training camp will shape a roster which will determine the fate of this win-now mentality.

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