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March 25, 2021

CFL Mock Draft 1.0: Lions On The Clock At No. 4

From lack of game film, to virtual combines and everything in between, this is the toughest draft I’ve ever tried to wrap my mind around.

‘Future’ picks, grad transfers, eligibility fluctuations and evolving draft deferrals will clearly define the 2021 CFL Draft, but plenty of extremely talented players are still available.

The question now becomes, where do they fit best?

ROUND 1

1. HAMILTON
DANIEL JOSEPH
DE | NC STATE

The brother of former top pick Faith Ekakitie and cousin of Wilfrid Laurier drafted pass rusher Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, Daniel Joseph has the combination of size, speed and raw pass rush ability that you expect in a player worthy of landing near the top of draft boards.

Joseph spent 2020 at NC State after transferring from Penn State and started eight of the eleven games he played while leading the Wolfpack with 6.5 sacks on the year. Here the Ticats solidify depth behind 2020 CFL first round draft pick Mason Bennett. While adding ratio flexibility, make no mistake the play here is for pure talent to place opposite Ja’Gared Davis.

2. SASKATCHEWAN
LOGAN BANDY
OL | CALGARY

Bandy might not reach this high in the draft, but when you are the marquee blocker on a team with as many pro-worthy prospects as the still Vanier Cup-defending champion Calgary Dinos do, I like the odds.

Saskatchewan will dearly miss the absence of Dariusz Bladek, who left in free agency for Toronto, and Dakoda Shepley, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers, unless they target top end talent in this draft. Without another pick until 17th overall, the time and place is here at second overall to take their pass blocker of choice and allow Cody Fajardo to develop comfortably.

3. WINNIPEG
NELSON LOKOMBO
DB | SASKATCHEWAN

Shots Fired! The Bombers steal the Saskatchewan Huskies product after the Riders focus on pass protection and scoop up the 2019 U SPORTS Defensive Player Of The Year. Nelson’s natural CFL fit, despite being slightly undersized, is at free safety. While Winnipeg is predominantly American on the back end, he can earn his reps on special teams alongside the Hallett brothers as Nick and Noah stand alone waving the maple leaf in the Bombers’ secondary.

4. BC
DESHAWN STEVENS
LB | MAINE

Deshawn Stevens has the skills and body to be a dynamic linebacker in my opinion. With the Lions going Canadian at a couple ‘backer spots, they should take Stevens for special teams as he waits his turn behind 2020 top overall selection Jordan Williams or 2013 draft pick Bo Lokombo and watch the open field tackles rack up.

5. EDMONTON
MOHAMED DIALLO
DT | CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Averaging nearly a sack per game while being named to the all-MAC first team, Diallo is all of six-foot-four, 305 pounds with the ability to play immediately in a suddenly forceful Canadian front line in Edmonton. The line would feature Kwaku Boateng and Mathieu Betts and have Diallo anchoring the middle in a rotation with any American tasked to replace Almondo Sewell.

6. OTTAWA
JOSH PALMER
REC | TENNESSEE

Ottawa has promise with Matt Nichols and Paul LaPolice reuniting, but who will they direct targets towards? Nationals under contract in Ottawa include Anthony CoombsMarco DuboisWesley Lewis, Dan Petermann and, of course, Brad Sinopoli. However, none of these players have the combination of frame, route running, lower body explosion and angry hands that Palmer put on display against top shelf SEC opponents in a pandemic-riddled 2021 Volunteers season.

7. TORONTO
ALARIC JACKSON
OL | IOWA

While free agency is for need, the draft is for value.

Alaric Jackson likely gets his earned look in the NFL as the CFL’s Central Scouting Bureau top ranked player, but Toronto is set up to be fully invested in protecting Nick Arbuckle for the foreseeable future. Securing the unique athleticism, movement skills and prototypical size of Jackson as a future hallmark of the Argos protection plan makes a lot of sense.

8. CALGARY
SAGE DOXTATER
OL | NEW MEXICO STATE

The last couple years have been uncharacteristically difficult for the Stamps offensive line health and depth. Unlike many U SPORTS prospects, Sage will have recent reps to be game ready for Calgary as his New Mexico State Aggies recently wrapped up a two game sprint of a spring season to make good on the COVID-ravaged 2020 fall schedule. His feet will need some tidying in the pros to solve balance concerns, but you can’t disagree with a motivated and experienced six-foot-seven, 350-pound frame.

9. HAMILTON
PATRICK DAVIS
OL | SYRACUSE

There are higher rated players in this draft at offensive line, but few with centre experience and the ability to swing across all five blocking spots. Versatility is the key with this pick after Hamilton reportedly won’t have longtime rock Mike Filer snapping to Jeremiah Masoli or Dane Evans in 2021.

ROUND 2

1 (10). MONTREAL
PIERRE-OLIVIER LESTAGE
OL | MONTREAL

I’d say I hate to play the hits, but I don’t. Danny Maciocia knows Lestage too well to pass him up with the Alouettes first pick of 2021. His wrecking ball mentality is worthy of being a first round pick depending on NFL interest, but will anyone dare secure his rights before Maciocia gets the chance?

2 (11). CALGARY
BENJAMIN ST. JUSTE
DB | MINNESOTA

When I think about the Stampeders secondary, I think length, size and physicality near the line of scrimmage. St. Juste fits this profile perfectly while offering special teams coordinator Mark Kilam one of the longest wingspans at the 2021 Senior Bowl to work as a punt gunner.

3 (12). TORONTO
PATRICE RENE
DB | NORTH CAROLINA

Toronto doesn’t need another top-end pass rusher or national linebacker for now. With the receiver room full and an offensive lineman secured in the first round, why not pick up Rene as a future Argo once he completes his time at Rutgers in the fall of 2021?

Despite an ACL tear in 2019, Patrice has the ability to push Arjen Colquhoun, Matthew Boateng and Robert Woodson quickly for best Canadian defensive back.

4 (13). OTTAWA
LIAM DOBSON
OL | MAINE

With a top-flight receiver targeted in round one, Ottawa begins to gather national offensive lineman help with Ottawa native Liam Dobson. Dobson will spend 2021 at Texas State after transferring from Maine, where he was named an all-conference all-star. That year he started all 12 games and performed as Maine’s highest graded offensive lineman for every start of 2019.

5 (14). EDMONTON
ALONZO ADDAE
DB | WEST VIRGINIA

A New Hampshire transfer, Addae has earned his way up the NCAA showcase to be an important part of the Mountaineer defence in 2020 with two interceptions, seven passes defended and 66 tackles. He offers Edmonton NCAA experience and coverage skills that current nationals Jordan BeaulieuEric Blake and Scott Hutter lack.

6 (15). BC
TERRELL JANA
REC | VIRGINIA

This Vancouver native leaves Virginia as a captain and is ranked 12th all-time at UVA with 123 career receptions and 17th all-time at UVA with 1,481 career receiving yards including five passes for 55 yards and a score against top-ranked Clemson. He’s productive, has a frame Mike Reilly would quickly welcome alongside Lemar Durant and would instantly be a marketable piece for BC as they find new ownership.

7 (16). WINNIPEG
NICK CROSS
LB | UBC

An All-Canadian from Regina who left the Rams for UBC, Nick Cross is an explosive tackler with a natural instinct for offensive flow which explains his U SPORTS-leading tackle numbers. In Winnipeg, Cross gets to refine his natural talent watching Adam Bighill and learn how to operate in the pros with a slightly undersized frame, something Bighill has overcome to become one of the CFL’s best.

8 (17). SASKATCHEWAN
GRANT McDONALD
LB | CALGARY

Grant McDonald doesn’t tackle, he hunts with an ever increasing speed as he nears the target. Forget about all the positional needs required to get on field against a CFL offence and join me in a world where McDonald becomes one of the best young special teams tacklers for Riders head coach Craig Dickenson, who knows the value of field position and reliable specials.

9 (18). HAMILTON
SHAE WEEKES
DB | MANITOBA

After three seasons with the Manitoba Bisons, Weekes spent 2020 with Bemidji State. I’m not sure there is a true fit here other than backing up Tunde Adeleke and Mike Daly at free safety to start, but I enjoyed watching his Bisons game film too much to see Shae slide out of the top two rounds.