Mock 1.0: What will Edmonton do with the first overall pick?

The CFL Combine presented by New Era is the books and the 2022 CFL Draft is just a few weeks away.

CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson offers up his first mock draft ahead of the Draft on May 3.

With the first overall pick in any draft there is pressure. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your buddy’s marathon fantasy football draft or you have the top pick in a professional football setting. Anytime a top pick doesn’t become the best player from that draft, backseat driver’s and armchair quarterbacks alike are renowned for the speed which they condemn the player taken and those who chose them with the entire draft board open.

If Tyrell Richards fails to be great in the CFL, I would be shocked, and if for some reason he did become a bust there, is absolutely no shame in Chris Jones and the Elks for being fooled by the promise of the six-foot-three, 230-pound linebacker from Syracuse.

Of course avoiding blame isn’t the motivation here, acquiring a cornerstone player with huge upside is. At the CFL Combine Richards was everywhere, all the time, all at once. He took more reps than anyone else thanks to the large number of requested snaps by evaluators in attendance. Richards is long, fast and has a natural flow to his game, in or out of the box, that will translate immediately to the CFL. He had the first overall pick written all over him without the context of who is making the pick, but with Chris Jones – a fan of defensive versatility and athleticism – at the helm this feels destined to happen.

While Makonzo hasn’t laid down speed times in the evaluation process worthy of proving his free safety range and there are some concerns about size as an every down linebacker, Ottawa has done an excellent job in recent years collecting versatile defensive pieces for defensive coordinator Mike Benevides to employ how he sees fit.

Makonzo has played edge, linebacker and occasionally bumped out to an interior pass coverage role but the question now becomes what will he be at the CFL level? Is second overall too high for a classic defensive ‘tweener’ without a perfectly crafted role like Richards before him?

In an off-season where Ottawa pillaged the Alouettes secondary in free agency picking up Patrick Levels, Money Hunter and Ty Cranston, it would only make sense for Ottawa to scoop up Makonzo before Montreal can at fourth overall.

Choosing between the Philpots really is splitting hairs. Tyson is slightly lighter, faster and more of a deep ball tracker. If the Lions decide to go receiver here he is the right choice based on play style and overall fit after Shaq Johnson signed with Ottawa in free agency.

BC needs help along the offensive line and could reach here, but I don’t believe there is a lineman worthy of a top three pick in this year’s draft making the question for Lions decision makers Philpots vs. the field.

I could see this pick going to Queen’s DL Anthony Federico depending on exactly what Montreal is looking for, but the loss of David Menard to BC means the Alouettes will be looking to restock their Canadian passer pressure.

Knight projects as an interior pocket pusher with quickness despite primarily playing end in his time at Western. That is a skill set that would create opportunity relatively quickly in Quebec.

With Ottawa and Montreal prioritizing different positions and brother Tyson off the board, Calgary gets Jalen Philpot to slide at fifth overall and happily take the Dinos product to continue his career at McMahon Stadium.

Some CFL evaluators I’ve spoken to believe either Philpot could slide further after a combine that didn’t match expectations, but that’s not likely in an unusually weak offensive line class.

At just over six-foot-three and 235 pounds, Federico likely projects as a weak side linebacker in the CFL game, but his nose for the football and athleticism as a defensive lineman in Kingston is what secures a first round grade for me.

With an OUA-best seven sacks in six regular season games played last year, he’ll still get pass rush opportunities but Toronto would be wise to add his tool kit to their special teams unit.

Originally I had Bryant RB Daniel Adeboboye here as an immediate plus on special teams and possible future ratio changer at running back, but in a weak lineman class I believe no player helped themselves more than Rodeem Brown on CFL Combine weekend.

Heading back to U of A in 2022 could drop his stock, but the Riders aren’t in desperation mode looking for a plug and play lineman. They should take Brown, develop him for 2023 and potentially add their centre for the next five years.

It feels as though every year I draft a defensive tackle for Hamilton, prematurely assuming Ted Laurent can’t play the physically punishing position forever. This year the motive isn’t replacement, but intrigue.

Archibald was a pleasant surprise at the CFL Combine and could be phased in slowly alongside Micah Johnson and Dylan Wynn this season as former first round Ticats pick Mason Bennett grows his influence at defensive end to create a top flight Canadian tandem built through value drafting.

If Saskatchewan wants help sooner they could take Zerr in place of Brown at seventh overall, but if the Riders pass, I can’t imagine Winnipeg letting him slide past the first round. The 2021 All-Canadian lists 2012 Riders first overall pick Ben Heenan a role model and has all the potential to be a CFL mainstay for the next decade plus.

Based on how Winnipeg drafts, develops and re-stocks, this makes sense after Drew Desjarlais signed with the New England Patriots.

From Regional Combine to 10th overall? The path is rare, but Pelehos showed he’s got the right makeup as the Argos test their eye for lineman talent again after hitting a home run with Peter Nicastro in 2021.

William Powell is the star of the show, but he can’t play forever and veteran Brendan Gillanders is entering eighth year, already past the CFL average at the position. 

Adeboboye dominated the bench press at the Combine while running and jumping well enough to be a first round pick but his pass protection struggled in the padded session which could cause some pause before getting selected to join Paul LaPolice’s reborn Ottawa squad.

After taking Rice grad Peter Godber third overall in 2018, the Lions draft another protector with Owl ties in Timberlea, Nova Scotia’s Gregor Mackellar. This is a move that adds depth and a vote of confidence for protecting QB Nathan Rourke so he can be more than just a hurried one season wonder starter in Vancouver.
Consider the offensive line run in full flow at this point. The Alouettes snap up Laval’s best available lineman with plenty of centre experience to anchor their protection scheme as teams begin to question their big board.

Tyrell Ford is a first round athlete and cover man, but Canadians in the CFL are often role and fit based decisions. Is Ford a safety? He wants to play corner but might not have the size of workload to warrant a top ten pick. As usual, Calgary waits it out and takes elite value.

Emilus could easily go before either of the Philpots, but if he falls to the teens I have a hard time imagining Toronto not taking the explosive burst his game brings to work in with 2020 2nd overall pick Dejon Brissett.

After losing Brayden Lenius to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, the Riders are in need of some receiver size to pair with Kian Schaffer-Baker as he embarks on a sophomore season with expectations. Bruggeling compares nicely to Ottawa’s special teams ace Marco Dubois, which will make head coach Craig Dickenson happy while adding some untapped receiving potential.

Just like his brother, Tre Ford is more than worthy of a first round grade, but what his fit does to his draft stock is a perplexing case study. Ford should earn the chance to make an NFL practice roster, but we always seem to underestimate just how difficult that is around draft season with so many players coming back.

Hamilton’s starter of the future is Dane Evans and backup Matthew Shiltz is a solid compliment, but the Niagara Falls native, who set endless records at Waterloo for career passing yardage and touchdowns, could split the geographical difference and keep the Warriors black & gold here as his passing gets refined behind a tactician and workhorse in Evans.

The culture of Hamilton’s quarterback room with offensive coordinator Tommy Condell would fit Ford nicely and the on-field potential is well worth a priority pick as Hamilton builds towards another home Grey Cup in 2023.

Knowing that Edmonton has two of the next three picks – including a territorial selection – Winnipeg adds to special teams and long term safety vision here in a ‘Taylor Loffler-light’ pick.

Ranked 14th in the CFL’s Winter Scouting Bureau Rankings, Schakel is a quiet playmaker who fits well in any room and doesn’t demand any extra attention to get ready for game day.

Learning from A.J. Gass with the Golden Bears, Josiah has a work ethic that will earn respect and a quick dress spot in Edmonton with their territorial draft pick.

Take a shot, it’s a free draft pick and if he ever comes North the defence will be immediately improved. 
While Edmonton said goodbye to Canadian defensive ends Kwaku Boateng and Mathieu Betts when Chris Jones arrived, I believe there is still a spot on the interior for this prairie tough tackle.

Turning heads with his route running and quickness to pair with elite combine testing, Cobb jumped up boards a couple weekends ago in Toronto. His skillset could play well in an Anthony Coombs-type role, maybe even for Coombs, who has struggled to plant his flag in Ottawa.
With teammate Cherry off the board, BC continues to invest in defensive line assets as Pickett works in alongside Betts and David Menard.
With Ty Cranston gone to Ottawa in free agency, the length and range of this Gee-Gees defender will play well after advancing from the Eastern Regional Combine in where else? Montreal.

A converted receiver who doesn’t perfectly fit the mold for any traditional Canadian roster spot, Eveillard is an intriguing athlete with a unique burst to his game. Calgary will find a smart way to use him.

An Ontario Regional Combine favourite, Greene’s ball skills and coverage hips are as good as anyone in the draft. At 26th overall, Toronto would be getting a steal.

His name is Ryder, he plays for the Rams and grew up in Regina. That’s all very romantic but he also happens to be one hell of a player. Despite heading back to school as a three-time Academic All-Canadian, I believe the Riders find a roster spot sooner than later for Ryder.
With just nine reps on the bench press, Fry slipping to the late twenties might be an exaggeration but a Ticats team with solidified national depth could afford to take him behind the likes of Jesse Gibbon, Coulter Woodmansey and Kay.y Okafor.
The underrated other half of the Rams fourth year linebacking duo, Smith adds a physical edge to Lions special teams coverage units quickly.
Tobi Antigha signed back with Chris Jones from Winnipeg in free agency. Meet his freaky athletic Canadian counterpart who likely doesn’t fit at defensive end or every down as a linebacker but can make himself a really nice future on special teams.

With twists and turns through Hawaii, North Dakota and division II, Dominique is undersized but has coverage skills that will tantalize closer to the top of the draft.

Depth in the form of a solid RSEQ battle tested interior lineman.
With Cobb off the board the next best available undersized testing monster receiver of 2022 becomes Forbes-Mombleau. Montreal smiles with the pick deep in the third round.

Charlie Power is a veteran and a couple converted defenders are listed as fullbacks, but Arseneau offers a varied skill set nobody on roster does with size to compete soon.

Elite return skills and a developing receiver, Smith might not land in Toronto if they draft Samuel Emilus as suggested earlier, but the Guelph-Argos ties are relevant in recent years and he offers a prospect at 35th overall that could learn a lot from the professionalism of Kurleigh Gittens Jr.

Undersized, shifty and relentless. He’s not Bagg or Dressler, but he’d be a quick fan favourite as a local with unique athleticism.
This Vanier College CEGEP grad had 13 passes defended in 2019 before the pandemic and injuries took their pound of flesh but plenty of meat still on this bone.
Tall, physical and a rep-to-rep mentality that screams effort. How would fellow Guelph alumni Mike O’Shea not like Beeksma as a depth pick who could earn his stripes with that trademark persistence?

1 (39). Edmonton
Peter Kozushka | OL | Alberta

2 (40). Ottawa
Tommy Bringi | LB | Laurier

3 (41). BC
Nate Edwards | LB | McMaster

4 (42). Montreal
Ryth-Jean Giraud | RB | Montreal

5 (43). Calgary
Brandon Gandire | DB | Regina

6 (44). Toronto
Katley Joseph | DB | University of Maine

7 (45). Saskatchewan
Adam Machart | RB | Saskatchewan

8 (46). Hamilton
Jacob Plamondon | DL | Calgary

9 (47). Winnipeg
Subomi Oyesoro | LB | Calgary

1 (48). Edmonton
Daniel Valente | DB | Western

2 (49). Ottawa
Jean-Paul Cimankinda | RB | Ottawa

3 (50). BC
Pierre Khadeem | DB | Concordia

4 (51). Montreal
Zach Herzog | DB | Hillsdale

5 (52). Calgary
Alessandro Molnar | RB | Calgary

6 (53). Toronto
Braydon Noll | OL | Laurier

7 (54). Saskatchewan
Jonathan Edouard | DB | Carleton

8 (55). Hamilton
Jacob Butler | OL | Queen’s

9 (56). Winnipeg
Rasheed Tucker | RB | Queen’s

1 (57). Edmonton
Marc-David Bien-Aime | OL | Fresno State

2 (58). Ottawa
Ibrahim Hassoun | OL | Western

3 (59). BC
Brandon Sanford | OL | UBC

4 (60). Montreal
Philippe Lemieux-Cardinal | DL | Montreal

5 (61). Calgary
Nelson Uzonwa | DB | UBC

6 (62). Toronto
Dimitrios Sinodinos | QB | McGill

7 (63). Saskatchewan
Maksim Duric | REC | Toronto

8 (64). Hamilton
Claude-Adler Joseph | LB | Montreal

9 (65). Winnipeg
Cole Adamson | DL | Manitoba

1 (66). Edmonton
Daniel Kwamou | LB | UBC

2 (67). Ottawa
Diego Alatorre | OL | UBC

3 (68). BC
David Solie | K | Saskatchewan

4 (69). Montreal
Eric Sutton | DB | Texas State

5 (70). Calgary
Rushon Dagelman | REC | Waterloo

6 (71). Toronto
John Boachie | DL | Concordia

7 (72). Saskatchewan
Daniel Amoako | DB | York

8 (73). Hamilton
Gordon Lam | REC | Waterloo

9 (74). Winnipeg
Nicholas Petermann | REC | Laurier

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