For the first time since taking office, Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia will have a first choice in the Canadian Football League (CFL) draft on Tuesday night. Recall that his predecessor, Kavis Reed, notably sacrificed two first-round picks in exchange for Johnny Manziel in the summer of 2018.
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
With his initial picks in 2020 and 2021, Maciocia has selected two of his former players from the University of Montreal Carabins, safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy (14and in total in 2020) and guard Pier-Olivier Lestage (10and in 2021). Dequoy is tipped to become the starting safety in his second season with the Alouettes in 2022, while Lestage remains on the Seattle Seahawks’ reserve team.
The last time the Birds had a first-round pick, Reed selected guard Trey Rutherford with the second overall pick. It was four years ago.
Rutherford played two seasons with the Alouettes before announcing his retirement. The very first prospect selected that year, receiver Mark Chapman, had never played in the CFL. Although he failed to break into the NFL, Chapman never joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
This is further proof that the CFL draft is even more risky than those of most other professional leagues. Like it or not, this is the reality. Teams have almost as much chance of getting their hands on a good player in the third or sixth round as they did in the first.
That said, the Alouettes are happy to hold the fourth draft pick, that goes without saying.
Friday, Maciocia reiterated that with equal talent, his team would always choose a local player rather than a player from another province. It was a strategy that Jim Popp also adopted at the time, but was later abandoned by Reed.
So, who are the players in the Alouettes’ line of sight and who could be chosen fourth overall?
The first name that comes up is that of Enock Makonzo, an athlete from Lachine who played his university football with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. A hybrid player capable of playing as a linebacker or defensive back, Makonzo was ranked eighth prospect in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings.
Offensive lineman Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, a product of the Université Laval Rouge et Or, Montreal receiver Samuel Emilus (Louisiana Tech) and defensive lineman Joshua Archibald (McGill), also from Montreal, are other Quebecers who could be selected in the first rounds of the repechage. The Alouettes have eight picks in total.
Note that the Sports Network (RDS) will broadcast the first two rounds of the repechage this Tuesday evening, starting at 8 p.m.
A system to review?
Maciocia wants as many Quebecers as possible in the Alouettes, but it’s not that special. The Roughriders surely prefer players from Saskatchewan, like the Lions, those from British Columbia.
“I think it’s the most powerful marketing tool we have,” analyst Marshall Ferguson said Monday.
His colleague Duane Forde agrees, but feels that this reality is a double-edged sword. Since players can sign a contract with the team of their choice when their first contract in the CFL ends, contracts that are generally for two years, they often choose to go home.
“It’s always a positive thing to have local players on the team when you want to sell tickets. But I think with a salary cap there should be a restricted free agent system [restricted free agency].
“Personally, I would like players to be able to obtain full autonomy only after having spent four seasons in the league. This would give teams a better chance of being able to draft, develop, and then keep their players, rather than developing them for another roster,” Forde said.
A more varied selection
Ford and Ferguson, two TSN analysts, are the top Canadian draft picks in the country. The two men took part in a videoconference to answer questions from reporters on Monday and seem to agree on the identity of the prospect who should be the choice of the Edmonton Elks with the very first selection.
“I think Tyrell Richards will be the first choice. It’s rare for a selection to make so much sense at the top of the draft and for it to seem like a perfect marriage between the player’s style of play and the coaching system. »
A 6’3″, 230 lb linebacker who played at Syracuse University, Richards would be the kind of player Chris Jones likes, who is back as head coach in Edmonton after a few years in the United States, notably as an assistant defensive coach with the Cleveland Browns.
There was a time not so long ago when the majority of the CFL’s top prospects played on the offensive line. At least, the nine teams on the circuit wanted to see four or even five of their seven Canadian starters play on the offensive line.
“The draft was dominated by offensive linemen. For example, in 2018, seven of nine first-round picks were offensive linemen,” Forde recalled.
” [L’entraîneur] Mike Benevides aptly said that offensive linemen are to our draft what quarterbacks are to the NFL. »
A great defender of Canadian talent if ever there was one, Forde says there are quality prospects at every position in this year’s draft.
“The situation has changed over the past few years. There are good Canadian players at all positions,” said Forde, who considers the group of defensive backs to be the biggest strength of this auction.
“I’ve been covering the CFL draft since 2005 and my livelihood has always been associated with the league since 1991, so for 31 years. And I can tell you that every five or ten years, there is always a significant jump in the level of talent of Canadian players. »