April 29, 2023

CFL Draft Presents Chance To Further Stock Cupboard

2022 BC Lions Training Camp

It likely serves as no coincidence that the BC Lions’ return to contender status has come at a time when the club’s crop of Canadian content has vastly improved as well.  After all, it has forever been said that stockpiling your roster with solid Canadian players will typically reap massive benefits.

Next Tuesday’s CFL Draft provides Neil McEvoy and the entire Lions brass an opportunity to further stock the cupboards. The Lions’ co-general manager and director of football operations lives for this time of year as it provides the final key piece to the training camp preparation puzzle.

“It’s always a good process to mine through the players that are there, and that’s the exciting and cool part of the job where you get to really evaluate the top Canadian players that are going to be coming and playing professional football over hopefully the next three to five to six to maybe ten years,” McEvoy said on a recent episode of 1st and Now.

“We’ve gone to the Combine, we’ve done our interviews, we’ve watched a lot of film. And now it’s starting to plateau and put these guys in order in how we draft. We draft nine and 14 (in rounds one and two), and we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do. The way the plateau works is we basically pick 14 guys (in order), and we’ll get two of those guys.


We all have to be on board that those two individuals, everyone first of all is excited about having them and they would be a good addition to our football team. At the end of the day, that’s how you do it. You’ve got to bring in guys that are going to adapt and be able to play within how we run the organization.”

A quick scan of the roster reveals 15 players that were selected by the Lions in previous Canadian Drafts. These selections span nine years and over multiple rounds. Five members of the 2022 draft class would see regular season action, including first-round pick Nathan Cherry who earned a starting role at defensive tackle.

Fullback David Mackie is also among those 15 past draftees as are defensive stalwarts Bo Lokombo and David Menard, who each left the organization at various points but are back with the franchise that originally drafted and developed them.

The Leos’ Canadian contingent also improved enough to make 2020 1st overall pick Jordan Williams expendable. His trade to Toronto opens the door for UBC product and 2021 selection Ben Hladik to compete for a full-time starter’s spot. McEvoy was also quick to point out that two members of the 2022 class, linebacker Ryder Varga and defensive lineman Adam Wallace will be back in training camp after returning for their final years of U Sports eligibility.

“We feel that we have some good guys coming up,” McEvoy added.

“We were able to upgrade our draft class by moving an asset. Mr. Williams wanted to play back east, so it was an easy decision for us but we weren’t going to just give him away. We were able to get something in return for a good football player. Now it’s our job to replenish and replace that player with a good player in the draft which is exactly what we’ll be expected to do.”

This year’s expanded CFL Combine in Edmonton gave McEvoy and company more to work with when evaluating the top eligible prospects. Watching endless game film can be beneficial but most talent evaluators would tell you more time up close and in person can give you a much better read on whether or not a prospect can be a good fit with your time.

“Historically, you go there on a Thursday and you just do the Combine stuff on Friday, interview them and do some more combine stuff and interviews Saturday with on-field stuff on Sunday,” McEvoy explained.

“This year we went on a Tuesday and got all that Combine stuff out of the way, that’s the height, the weight, the 40s and stuff like that, on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday they actually practiced with pads and had almost like an All-Star practice. It wasn’t a game but it was certainly great to see the top Canadian players compete against each other. It gave us an opportunity for us to really take a look at what’s out there.”

Who will the next wave be made up of? With the draft plateau of players regardless of position all ready to go, it will be fascinating to see it play out on Tuesday evening.

Mock 2.0: Who’s going first overall?

Stocking Canadian Cupboard| Lions 2023 CFL Draft Selections

Round 1, 9th overall*- pick acquired from Toronto in trade for linebacker Jordan Williams on February 9, 2023.
Round 2, 14th overall
Round 4, 34th overall
Round 5, 43rd overall
Round 6, 52nd overall
Round 7, 61st overall
Round 8, 70th overall

** The Lions’ own round 1 selection (7th overall) belongs to Montreal as a result of the trade for quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. on August 31, 2022.

*** The Lions’ round 3 selection(25th overall) belongs to Ottawa as a result of the trade for receiver/returner Terry Williams on September 4, 2022.

Fans can tune into TSN for the first two rounds of draft coverage at 5:00 pm on Tuesday. The remaining rounds will be streamed online through

2023 Global Draft Also On Tap Tuesday

The Tuesday fun begins at 8:00 am with the Global Draft. The Lions hold both the 7th and 16th overall selections in the two-round affair. Defensive lineman Tibo Debaillie (Belgium) recorded 20 tackles and three sacks last season. Debaillie was a Global Draft pick of the Edmonton Elks in 2021 before joining the Lions as a free agent.

The other two Globals on the roster are linebacker Maxime Rouyer (France) who joined the squad halfway through 2022 and fullback John-Levi Kruse (Germany) who was selected in round three of last year’s draft before signing his first Lions contract back in March.

Matt Baker: