For the first time since taking office, Alouette general manager Danny Maciocia will have a first pick in the Canadian Football League (CFL) draft Tuesday night. Recall that his predecessor Kavis Reed sacrificed two first-round picks in exchange for Johnny Manziel in the summer of 2018.
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With his first picks in 2020 and 2021, Maciocia picked two of his former University of Montreal Carabins players, safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy (14and overall 2020) and guard Pier-Olivier Lestage (10and in 2021). Dequoy is slated to become 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 this year, receiver Mark Chapman, had never played in the CFL. Despite failing to break into the NFL, Chapman never joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
This is further proof that the CFL draft is even riskier than most other professional leagues. Like it or not, that’s the reality. The chances of getting your hands on a good player are almost as good in the third or sixth round as they are in the first.
The Alouettes are of course happy about the fourth selection of the draft.
On Friday, Maciocia reiterated that given equal talent, his team would always pick a local player rather than a player from another province. It was a strategy that Jim Popp was also pursuing at the time, but which Reed later abandoned.
So who are the players in the Alouettes’ sights and who could finish fourth overall?
The first name to come up is that of Enock Makonzo, a Lachine athlete who played his varsity football with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Makonzo, a hybrid player who can play as a linebacker or defenseman, was ranked eighth in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings.
Offensive lineman Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, a product of 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 Retreat. The Alouettes have eight picks in total.
Note that Sports Network (RDS) will be broadcasting the first two laps of the repechage this Tuesday night from 8pm.
A system of verification?
Maciocia wants as many Quebecers as possible in the Alouettes, but it’s not that special. The Roughriders certainly prefer players from Saskatchewan, as do the Lions 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 sees this reality as a double-edged sword. Because players can sign a contract with the team of their choice after their first contract in the CFL expires, contracts that typically run for two years, they often choose to go home.
“It’s always a positive thing to have local players on the team when trying 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 gain full autonomy only after four seasons in the league. This would give teams a better chance to draft, develop and then retain their players rather than develop them for another roster,” Forde said.
A more varied choice
Ford and Ferguson, two TSN analysts, are the top Canadian draft picks in the country. The two men took part in a video conference call Monday to take questions from reporters and appear to agree on the identity of the prospect in the very first selection, which should be the Edmonton Elks’ choice.
“I think Tyrell Richards will be the first choice. It’s rare that a pick at the top of the draft makes so much sense and seems like a perfect marriage between the player’s playstyle and the coaching system. »
Richards, a 6’3″, 230lb linebacker who played at Syracuse University, would be the kind of player Chris Jones would like, returning after a few years in the US as head coach at Edmonton, specifically as assistant defensive coach at Cleveland Brown’s.
Not long ago, the majority of the CFL’s top talent played on offense. After all, the circuit’s nine teams wanted to see four or even five of their seven Canadian starters play on offense.
“The draft was dominated by offensive linemen. For example, in 2018, seven out of nine first-round picks were offensive linemen,” recalled Forde.
” [L’entraîneur] Mike Benevides aptly said that offensive linemen are to our draft what quarterbacks are to the NFL. »
Forde is a great defender of Canadian talent if there ever was one. He says there’s a good prospect at every position in this year’s draft.
“The situation has changed in recent years. There are good Canadian players in all positions,” said Forde, who sees the group of defenders as the biggest strength of this auction.
“I’ve been covering the CFL draft since 2005 and my livelihood has been connected to the league since 1991, which is 31 years. And I can tell you that every five or ten years the talent of Canadian players takes a significant leap. »