It’s often said that evaluating players in the CFL Draft is an art form and not an exact science. No matter what a players’ measurables are, or how great their test scores are, it’s impossible to truly predict how a prospect will fare. There are numerous examples throughout the decades of top picks who failed to live up the hype, but today we will turn our attention to some BC Lions who outperformed their draft position.
For the sake of this article, it was determined that only players selected after the second round would qualify as a steal. The five Lions listed below have far exceeded expectations and proven that teams can find gems in the later rounds if they look hard enough.
5. Jordan Herdman-Reed – 7th round (60th overall) in 2017
The Lions were fortunate to land Jordan Herdman-Reed in the 7th round of the 2017 CFL Draft. Jordan was the first ever SFU player to participate in the Senior Bowl and had plenty of NFL interest. Some clubs were scared off by his opportunities to play down south, but the always shrewd Wally Buono wasn’t afraid to roll the dice on the productive linebacker. Wally knew Jordan could develop into a solid contributor and not surprisingly, he was right. The Winnipeg, MB product has played key roles on special teams and defence thus far in his career with the Lions.
Herdman-Reed was the seventh linebacker selected in 2017 and this has undoubtably motivated him to prove his doubters wrong. He is entering his fourth season with BC, appearing in 52 games so far in his career. Jordan has recorded 139 total tackles (95 defensive, 44 special teams) and three sacks through his first three seasons. He was thrust into the starting lineup replacing the injured Solomon Elimimian in 2018 and showed flashes of brilliance. Jordan registered 56 defensive tackles, 17 special teams tackles and a pair of sacks during the 2018 campaign. With the ability to start at linebacker, it appears the 25-year-old’s best days are still ahead of him in BC.
4. David Menard – 4th round (32nd overall) in 2014
It’s been said that the two most reliable indicators of team success is your ability to throw the football and your ability to get after the quarterback. Few Lions have put more pressure on the quarterback in recent years than David Menard. Despite being ranked as the 13th best prospect in the 2014 CFL Scouting Bureau final rankings, the undersized defensive lineman slipped all the way to the fourth round of the CFL Draft. The Lions wasted little time in selecting the renowned sack artist with the 32nd overall pick.
The University of Montreal grad has 17 career sacks in 94 games with the Lions. Menard’s best campaign in Orange and Black came in 2015 when he posted 10 defensive stops, 6 sacks and one forced fumble. It’s rare for a fourth round selection to last six seasons with the team that drafted him, but that’s exactly what David did before departing for the Montreal Alouettes as a free agent in 2020.
3. Bo Lokombo – 3rd round (21st overall) in 2013
With rumours swirling of an opportunity to play in the NFL, the BC Lions selected Bo Lokombo in the 3rd round of the 2013 CFL Draft. The University of Oregon alum was the consensus top prospect available but teams feared he would never set foot in the CFL. With a star studded roster already in place, the Leos had the flexibility to take a chance on the ultra-athletic linebacker.
Lokombo had a knack for making eye catching plays during his tenure with the Lions. Primarily deployed as a linebacker and special teamer with the Leos, Bo compiled 164 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble through 61 career games. The Abbotsford, BC product was named a West Division All-Star in 2015 after notching 24 defensive stops, 24 special teams tackles and one sack. Bo’s best season with the club came in 2018 when he registered 71 defensive tackles, 16 special teams tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
2. Shaq Johnson – 4th round (32nd overall) in 2016
The BC Lions drafted speedy wideout, Shaq Johnson, in the fourth round of the 2016 CFL Draft. Johnson bounced around a bit as a junior player, spending time at McGill University, Western University and eventually suiting up for the London Beefeaters of the CJFL. Despite being the eighth receiver drafted, Shaq has proven to be by far the most productive pass catcher in his draft class.
Through 54 career games with the Leos, Shaq has caught 97 passes for 1,454 yards and seven touchdowns. The 26-year-old continues to evolve his game every season and last year was his best as a pro. Shaq registered career highs in receptions (39) and receiving yards (597) in 2019. The Brampton, ON native also had the best game of his career against the Ottawa RedBlacks in 2019 when he racked up 160 receiving yards, including a 67-yard touchdown catch. Shaq is a big play threat for the Lions and it will be fun to see what he can do in 2020 with a better supporting cast around him.
1. Jason Arakgi – 3rd round (20th overall) in 2008
How could you pick anyone other than the CFL’s all-time leader in special teams tackles to be number one on this list? Following a very successful collegiate career at McMaster University, the Lions selected Jason Arakgi in the third round of the 2008 CFL Draft. Although considered a solid prospect coming out of McMaster, few could have foreseen how impactful the Montreal, QC product would be.
Arakgi appeared in 155 games across nine seasons in BC. He compiled 220 total tackles during his illustrious career and set the CFL record for most special teams stops with 194. The CFL places a premium on being able to contribute on special teams and no one was better at hunting down kick returners than Arakgi. His best season came in 2009 when he posted a remarkable 38 special teams tackles. Although often thought of as an unsung hero, Jason was always viewed by teammates as a boisterous leader and fiery competitor. One of the key figures in the locker room during the club’s epic 2011 Grey Cup Victory on home soil, Jason will always be a fan favourite in this province.
Hopefully Ed Hervey and company can find another Jason Arakgi or Shaq Johnson when the 2020 CFL Draft kicks off on April 30th. Stay glued to Draft Central powered by Telus for everything Lions leading up to and during the draft.