Toronto,ON- Thursday night was a big night for the Canadian Football League, as the organization that asked the Canadian government for $150 million went ahead with its annual collegiate draft. The league’s nine teams selected their 2020 draft class, and the players they hope will lead them to future Grey Cup glory. The first round selections saw a mix of Canadian NCAA’ers, as well as a number of U SPORTS talents. 49 Sports takes a look at how these first-round selections affect the future outlooks of their respective teams.
- BC Lions- Jordan Williams, University of Eastern Carolina– LB
Jordan Williams quickly shot his way up the CFL scouting rankings. Like many in this draft, the absence of six players who were selected and signed by NFL teams made him the consensus number one pick. The 5’11, 219-pound linebacker is a playmaker who uses his speed to cover the entire field which is even more important with the bigger CFL field. Jordan led East Carolina in tackles with 80 in the 2017 season. Overall, he is athletically gifted and placed in the top four in all categories in the Ontario regional combine. Look for Williams to be on the field opening day for the Lions who need help on the defensive side of the ball.
- Toronto Argonauts – Dejon Brissett, University of Virginia – Wide Receiver
This is a no-brainer for the Argos. While it is a little bit of a reach, Toronto has been lacking big-play talent at the wide receiver position, Brissett provides this. Over four years with the University of Richmond, Brissett reeled in 86 receptions for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns in 33 games, and with Virginia, he recorded 299 receiving yards in 2018. He is another player that can step in right away and make an impact on the field with his athletic ability and hopefully improve the basement-dwelling offence of the Argos.
- Calgary Stampeders -Isaac Adeyimi-Berglund, Southeastern Louisiana– Defensive End
Projected to go third by the CFL Scouting Bureau, Adeyemi-Berglund is your stereotypical defensive end. Standing at 6’2 and 250 pounds, the Nova Scotia native recorded 61 total tackles and 7.5 sacks in 13 games last season. In 33 career games at Southeastern Louisiana, Adeyemi-Berglund recorded 135 tackles including 28 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 11 quarterback hurries and 10 pass breakups. He was an All-Southland Conference honourable mention in 2018.
Berglund has explosive power from the outside, where he uses his strong shedding technique on opposing lineman. With the Stampeders having a strong all-around team, he will most likely be a depth piece for his first season with the team.
- Edmonton Eskimos – Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, University of Buffalo – Offensive Lineman
With a strong pool of Canadian talent already, the Eskimos improved their offensive line depth by selecting Tomas Jack-Kurdyla fourth overall for the University of Buffalo. The Montreal native stands at 6’3, 300 pounds making his body size pro-ready. In 2019, Kurdyla allowed a program record-low eight sacks on the season and was a part of a unit that was named honourable mention for the Joe Moore Award as one of the top 15 offensive line units in the nation. His role with the Eskimos will most likely be a depth one, but the right guard shows a lot of promise and could fight for a starting role next season.
- Hamilton Tigercats- Coulter Woodmansey, University of Guelph- Offensive Lineman
To the casual fan, Coulter Woodmansey came out of nowhere. The CFL’s Scouting Bureau didn’t even have the offensive Lineman in their Top 20 picks in the final edition ahead of the draft. But with top prospect, Carter O’Donnell signing an NFL contract, the need for offensive lineman was elevated The main reason why Woodmansey was the first U SPORTS athlete picked was that he is a perfect fit with Hamilton. This is because of his strong ability to hold the pocket on pass rush plays particularly for the Tigercats heavy passing offence. It also doesn’t hurt that the Toronto native stands at 6’5 and weighs 300 pounds giving him a pro-level body, which may let him step in right away next year in either a secondary role or as a starter at the guard position.
- Ottawa Redblacks, Adam Auclair, Laval University- DB/LB
While Auclair at five was a reach by Ottawa, the pick is one of pure need for the Redblacks as going into the draft defensive talent from Canada was a need for the team. In the last 5 first-round picks by the team, they have only picked O-Lineman. The Quebec native played eight games in 2019 for l’Université Laval and recorded 41 tackles. A major advantage that most scouts highlight is his ability to play both defensive back and linebacker as shown through his U SPORTS career. He has the ability to stick most of his tackles and has a quickness at the linebacker position that you don’t see every day. There is a good chance you’ll see the 24-year-old at linebacker on opening day for the Redblacks.
7. Saskatchewan Roughriders, Mattland Riley, University of Saskatchewan- Offensive Lineman
The Roughriders with their first-round pick selected Saskatchewan boy Maitland Riley. During his four years with the Saskatchewan Huskies, Riley was named a Canada West All-Star on two occasions (2018, 2019) and has also been a U SPORTS Second and First Team All-Canadian the last two seasons. The 6’3, 300-pound offensive lineman has a pro-ready body and could fit in at the guard position on the Roughriders. Scouts have also said that he has raw talent but could use some more refining before starting full-time in the CFL.
8. Hamilton Tigercats -Mason Bennett, University of North Dakota- Defensive Lineman
With the eighth pick in the draft, the Tigercats grabbed a game-changer that can join the defensive lineup this year and be an impact player. Bennett, a University of North Dakota prospect, finished off his collegiate career by posting 39 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, two passes defended, and a forced fumble in 10 contests. For his efforts, Bennett was named a 2019 All-American, making him the first in the school’s Division I history to earn the honour. Marshall Ferguson of TSN says “Mason Bennett will make any pass rush rotation he joins better, thanks to his flexible game and the resilient nature displayed in his game tape while fighting through all kinds of blocking schemes, chip blocks, and double teams,”
9. Toronto Argonauts- Theren Churchill, University of Regina- Offensive Lineman
With the final pick in the first round, the Argos continued to improve the state of their offensive line with Theren Churchill. The move would fit in nicely working with Toronto’s first overall selection from the 2019 draft in Shane Richards making the once weak O-Line a promising one. Churchill is said to have a bit of attitude to his game and brings some considerable size to the table, as the Alberta native sits at 6’6 and 295 pounds. Scouts also comment on his size. Churchill can move around the field pretty fast and has a pro-quality blocking technique. The fifth-year Regina Ram will bring some much-needed toughness and size most likely continuing to play right guard.
With files from Ben Steiner