From Mateas to Canada’s Mr. Irrelevant: Winners of the 2015 CFL Draft
Another CFL draft is in the books, and the optimism for the upcoming season among the league’s fanbases may begin. So while we wait for history to ultimately pronounce judgment on each team’s actual performance in the 2015 CFL draft, who does CFLpass see as the early winners? Glad you asked!
Offensive linemen – Of course, any observer knew this was coming but this OL-heavy draft class fulfilled fans’ already-great expectations. Six lineman went in the first round – and former top-five prospect Brett Boyko even dropped to no. 14. Who loves blocking? We love blocking!
Alex Mateas – At no. 1 overall, Mateas is an easy choice for the “winners” column but the U. Conn lineman and his Ottawa Redblacks got the interest level in the CFL draft up early by beating out the much more heralded Sukh Chungh and Sean McEwen. Mateas will certainly be starting on the Redblacks OL in week one, despite the team’s efforts to begin with the line for their expansion season of 2014.
Ese Mrabure-Ajufo – Easily the biggest surprise of the first round, Mrabure-Ajufo came from off the first-round radar to leapfrog Daryl Waud (and destroy most mock drafts) to land with BC Lions at no. 5 and seize the preseason title of top rookie DL. And thanks to the Lions’ surprise pick, there was much celebrating at…
Wilfrid Laurier University. Thanks to Mrabure-Ajufo and his predecessor selection DB Chris Ackie, the Golden Hawks program snapped a three-year drought of CFL draft exclusion and produced two first-rounders for the first time in 45 years.
Depending on his status with the New York Giants, monstrous LB Byron Archambault could go down as the steal of this draft – kudos to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who waited beyond the Montreal Alouettes’ relatively safer selection of Nick Shortill in round two to land Archambault at no. 17. A bit of a flier here, but a gamble that could pay immediate dividends.
Perhaps CFLpass’s favourite performances on Draft Day were turned in by the Toronto Argonauts and BC Lions, however. The Argos’ first three choices – McEwen, Daryl Waud and Cameron Walker – can be penciled in as starters for 2015 right now, and landing Waud in round two should prove particularly fruitful.
Toronto shifted into “skill player” mode in round four to land a pair of WRs, Matt Norzil and hometowner Kevin Bradfield, with hopes of beefing up last year’s disappointing corps and also grabbed the underrated Dillon Campbell of Laurier. And you gotta love any selection of a long snapper; welcome to the Argos, Dan MacDonald!
After shocking with the Mrabure-Ajufo pick, the Lions proceeded to clean up in addressing needs all over the roster. In rounds two and three, BC essentially drafted the best players available both times; Boyko, snapped up at no. 14 overall, was the last first-round level OL talent remaining in the second – though, like Archambault, Boyko represents something of a risk as he attempts to crack the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster.
Speaking of Archambault, did CFLpass say he could be the steal of the draft? Let’s take that back. Nabbing Boyko’s former UNLV teammate, speedster Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, will unquestionably start the 2015 season in CFL uniform, and – you read it here – will star.
Yet more (potential) theft was perpetrated by the Lions in the draft’s final round. CFLpass is completely unsure as to why and how University of Idaho’s Maxx Forde managed to drop all the way to no. 58. Almost as man-crushingly, Duane Forde of TSN noted going into the CFL draft that “Despite spending five years in a D1 program, [Forde’s] athleticism, frame, and intelligence suggest that he still has significant upside.” Along with BC, we’re aboard on Forde.
Brandon Bridge and Andrew Buckley – As the sole quarterbacks taken from a class weak at the position, Bridge and Buckley are at very least relieved to have heard their names called yesterday. Bridge in particular lucked into a nice situation for himself with the Montreal Alouettes: He won’t be stealing Jon Crompton’s job anytime soon, but seems likely to getting plenty of quality playing time in Quebec.
And finally, Buckley gets a nod here not only for landing with the defending champion Calgary Stampeders but also for his status as M. Sans Pertinence. (Can this become a thing?)