This past Sunday, the nest grew a little bigger and some talented young men joined the Montreal Alouettes flock.
The CFL Draft took place and it gave the opportunity for general managers to select the potential stars of tomorrow. 71 of Canada’s finest football players got that phone call they have waited years for; the one that officially welcomes them as a member of the Canadian Football League.
The Alouettes were able to add another 8 names to the lips and minds of football fans in the 514. This draft was particularly notable in that for the first time in 22 years, someone not named Jim Popp was making the draft selections for the Birds of Prey.
This is now Kavis Reed‘s football team, to shape and form into his own image. Much like he did in free agency, Reed made clear who he wanted on this team and the final call was his to make. We won’t know until some time down the road whether this draft class will be a success or not. Until then, all we can do is speculate and get to know the newest members of the Montreal Alouettes.
Here’s a look at the young men that will be joining the team in Lennoxville when training camp opens on May 28th:
Round 2: Fabion Foote, DL, McMaster
The Alouettes are going almost exclusively Canadian when it comes to their defensive line. They added a few pieces in free agency plus already have Mike Klassen and Jesse Joseph ready to compete. So why add another DL in Foote? His ability to knife through opposing lines is tremendous and he is extremely punishing when he gets his paws on someone. Most notably, the opposing quarterback.
Perhaps the biggest intangible is the guy’s work ethic. Foote constantly pushes himself to be even better than the day before. He’s hungry and determined. You can’t teach desire and you can tell Fabion wants this opportunity more than anything. He will make everyone around him work even harder.
Round 3: Dondre Wright, DB, Henderson State
I was so convinced that this guy would be gone by the end of round two that I didn’t even consider the possibility that he’d be on the Alouettes’ radar. Montreal did no wrong by choosing Wright, as he can play anywhere on defense. An extremely high motor, Dondre doesn’t seem to take any plays off and he can keep quarterbacks guessing as to whether he’ll drop back in coverage or occupy the middle, taking away those 2nd and short chances. This pick is a master stroke with a LOT to like here.
Round 4: Alex Morrison, REC, British Columbia
Montreal addressed a glaring need for National receiver talent with this draft, taking three (or potentially four, your mileage may vary) in this draft class. Their first choice was Morrison, who also brings championship experience as he helped the Thunderbirds win the Vanier Cup in 2015. Many CFL draft gurus had him going in round 2. He has very decent hands and his seamless ability to split defenders will turn some heads.
Round 5: Zach Annen, OL, Carleton
This pick was the first head-scratcher by Montreal, as not much is known of this former Raven. He is an aerospace engineering student, so he’s clearly no dummy. You can never have too many National O-Linemen on board, especially ones that play every single game like Zach has done. Centre is not the easiest position to play and having someone who can bring some depth is always a bonus. Annen stated that he will go back to school for his 5th year, so this is strictly a futures move for Montreal.
Round 6: Malcolm Carter, REC, Ottawa Sooners (CJFL)
Called it! As I said in the draft preview, this is a pick to be excited about. Carter can make plays and his ability to defy gravity is going to be a godsend for Montreal. As disappointed as Alouettes Nation was to see S.J. Green be traded to Toronto (and to a lesser degree, see Duron Carter sign with Saskatchewan), I think they will breathe a little easier once they see this young man and his 6’6 frame in action. I won’t use the term “replacement” here, but Malcolm is a legit gamer that will be groomed for the next generation of Alouettes football.
Round 6: Denzel Radford, REC, Calgary
The Alouettes always seem to want to find talent at the U of C, drafting several players from their football factory. There have been a lot of hits and misses over the years but someone on this scouting team seems to always like what they see out West. With that in mind, Radford is the third big-bodied National receiver that was taken by Montreal on Sunday. What surely drew the most interest was his kickoff/punt return abilities, where Denzel excelled for the Dinos in 2016 and during their road to the Vanier Cup. I’ve talked about Montreal needing a dynamic returner for when Stefan Logan calls it a career. So why not this stout yet swifty Calgarian?
Round 7: Ty Cranston, DB, Ottawa
This is another pick that flew way under the radar and drew some side-eye. There’s not really a whole lot of film readily available of this Winnipeg native, but he did rack up 129 defensive tackles in four seasons with the Gee-Gees. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, Cranston will no doubt be asked to contribute right away on special teams. He will be measuring himself up against young defensive players like Greg Henderson and Raymon Taylor.
Round 8: Oumar Touré, TE, Sherbrooke
It’s hard to believe that it took until the EIGHTH round for the Alouettes to select a player from La Belle Province. It’s even more unbelievable that said player didn’t come from the Universite de Laval OR Universite de Montreal! But as I’ve said before, the secret is out now and every team in the CFL is looking more towards Quebec-born talent in order to restock their war chest.
That being said, the Alouettes did very well in selecting this member of the Vert et Or! Montreal’s coaching staff still hasn’t figured out how to properly use their current tight end J-C Beaulieu (Who is also from the Universite de Sherbrooke!), so I expect Touré to be used more in the slot where he has great hands and his YAC numbers are tremendous. Somehow, Oumar gets faster AFTER he makes the catch! I also see this physical specimen as a great special teams player, working alongside another Vert et Or legend in Nicolas Boulay.
So while a lot of people seemed to be less than impressed with the crop of players selected this year, I do see some potential building blocks for the future. I am certain that’s what Kavis has in mind for the Alouettes as their free agency moves were clearly screaming, “WIN NOW”. So in that vein, the 2017 draft class can be looked upon as though you’re saving for a rainy day.
Reed could have panicked and offered up a king’s ransom to get back into the first round, but instead he managed to land some very talented players with his first two draft picks. Defense is always a concern and with the addition of some of these National players, both coaches Noel Thorpe and Billy Parker will get to be creative all-around.
Whether Kavis Reed will one day find those international diamonds in the rough like Jim Popp did remains to be seen. For now, Reed has shifted his attention to making the Canadian part of this CFL team stand out. This country is producing some top-tier football talent and if this Alouettes organization wants to bring some of it in to showcase for all to see, I fail to see a problem with that.
Now that we know which youngsters will be joining the flock in Lennoxville later this month, what’s next here at The ALSternative?
How about a full-length, in-depth 2017 season preview? That will be coming up in the week leading to training camp, so keep your eyes and ears open! I plan on taking a look at what transpired in the off-season and letting you the fans know what you have to look forward to, both on and off the field.
You’ve been asking for more content here on The ALSternative and I am ready to give you all that you need and then some! Be sure to also check out the Alouettes Flightdeck podcast, as Tim Capper and myself will also bring you all kinds of Montreal Alouettes talk, opinions and so much more!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter for all the latest news, thoughts and more.
The 2017 draft is done and free agency is a memory. There’s only one thing left now for these rookies to do; be prepared for the most grueling, hard-hitting job interview in Canada!