This Thursday, the best and the brightest football talent that this great nation has to offer will take center stage as the CFL Draft gets underway. Safe to say that many CFL fans have no idea who many of these youngsters are, since collegiate sports don’t get nearly enough coverage in Canada.
But that won’t matter when you find out who your team has drafted. And despite TSN providing live coverage of the draft, it won’t have nearly the same impact as the NFL draft does. Yet these young men are about to realize their dream of playing football professionally and that’s an excitement that you cannot put a price on.
The Montreal Alouettes find themselves in a very unfamiliar position when it comes to the draft. For the first time in their modern history, they will have the dubious honour of selecting first overall. There are not many positives to posting a 3-15 record, but this would qualify as one. There is also the possibility that the Alouettes will trade that first overall pick in order to land an established player or players that can help the team immediately.
As it has become all too common these past few seasons, the ability to prognosticate who will drafted was compounded moments after the NFL draft concluded. It was open season on any young player that had not been selected, including those who are Canadian-born. It was also the time where NFL teams extended invitations to their rookie mini-camps in order to properly evaluate any undrafted talent.
Canadian-born players being invited to an NFL mini-camp is not new. But with training camp and the season starting sooner, CFL teams now run the risk of drafting a player and then seeing said player possibly sign away with an NFL team still. That uncertainty is a wrinkle that all nine CFL teams will have to take into consideration now. This is especially true for a team like the Alouettes, who are lacking true Canadian depth and need players who can contribute as soon as possible.
Barring any last-minute deals, once Montreal makes their first choice they won’t draft again until the third round. This is due to them trading their second-round pick to Saskatchewan last season as part of the Darian Durant deal. They also don’t have a fifth round pick due to the trade that saw Tevaughn Campbell come to Montreal.
But the Alouettes will choose twice in the third, fourth and sixth rounds, where they have been able to land some solid talent in the past. It’s here where we will see the value of adding Miles Gorrell to the football operations staff. He helped build the Ottawa RedBlacks into a quick contender and now will be asked along with National scout Eric Deslauriers to do the same for Montreal.
The Montreal Alouettes do have some very talented Canadians already on the roster. The key now is to add to that and rebuild this team into a contender for years to come.
Now comes the fun part; Who will come to the 514 to help defend the nest?
As far as I am concerned, Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed needs to face facts and realize that there are some key positions that are still occupied with strong veteran talent, but no real successor. Luc Brodeur-Jourdain is not getting any younger. John Bowman has stated that this is likely his final CFL season. Chip Cox and Nik Lewis have not officially retired, but they are also in the twilight of their careers. Who will replace these battle-tested warriors?
Montreal HAS to continue to add to their O-Line, as you can never have too many talented big men protecting your quarterback. Montreal has a strong secondary but is also lacking National depth besides the middle. Even with the brothers Westerman suiting up for the Alouettes, I’d like to see another edge rusher added to the fold.
Suffice to say, there are any number of areas that can be improved upon and there always seems to be a player that inexplicably drops down in value. If the Alouettes can find that value pick somewhere in those middle rounds, fans will have reason to think positive once again.
As always, I can only offer up who I personally feel would be a great addition to the Montreal Alouettes for 2018 and beyond. In no particular order, here’s a few names that Alouettes fans should hope to see added to the roster this Thursday night:
Trey Rutherford, UConn (OL)
This surely wasn’t Montreal’s first plan when it came to the 2018 draft. But with other top lineman signing NFL contracts and/or being invited to mini-camp, Rutherford is a rarity in that he is focusing solely on a CFL career. Along with his physical gifts and versatility at the line, Trey is likely as close to game-time ready as it gets. Thus, Kavis Reed would be wise to add this young man right away to the team.
Arnaud Gendron-Dumouchel, Montreal (OL)
While he is certainly a project player and Montreal is not typically an ideal training ground, Arnaud is a physical specimen and you can’t teach that. At 6’9 and 310 pounds, this former Carabin fared very well at the CFL Combine. What you will have to teach him is how to play with an edge and if one of the veteran linemen can take him under their wing to do that, Gendron-Dumouchel can be a potential steal.
Dakoda Shepley, UBC (OL)
In a perfect world, you draft this guy first overall right away and don’t even think twice about it. Shepley had an amazing combine and his stock went through the roof as a result. Doing so well that one had to wonder if he would even be worthy enough to be drafted by an NFL team. He wasn’t drafted but did sign as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets. That may not scare off other CFL teams, but if it does and Shepley’s still available with one of those two fourth round picks, the Alouettes have GOT to grab this stud for the future.
Sam MacMillan, Toronto (OL)
If this young man is anything like his brother Nolan, then Alouettes fans can breathe a bit easier when it comes to the question about O-line depth. Nolan was the first ever draft pick for the Ottawa RedBlacks and developed into an extremely valuable asset. Many feel that Sam has a lot of those same qualities and his ceiling is very high.
Jean-Gabriel Poulin, Western (LB)
This is where having no second round pick sucks, because I don’t see Poulin and his potential still being available past the second round. The total package when it comes to speed, grittiness and now championship experience, this is the kind of guy teams should be falling all over themselves to draft. If through some sort of miracle the Alouettes have a chance at Poulin, they’d be damn foolish not to take him.
Micah Teitz, Calgary (LB)
I look at this former Dino and I see a lot of Bear Woods in him. No, not the massive dreadlocks but the hard-hitting, physical style that Alouettes fans grew to admire and respect. Teitz would be a beast on special teams and working alongside fellow National players Henoc Muamba and DJ Lalama would only help fast-track this youngster’s success.
Bo Banner, Central Washington (DE)
The idea of developing this former Wildcat as the next great pass-rusher can only bode well for Alouettes Nation. Physically gifted and lightning-fast, Banner showed well at the CFL combine and would be a fun project that will pay off in the next couple of years. Drafting Bo would also provide a solid backup to National veteran Jamaal Westerman.
Justin Buren, Simon Fraser (WR)
I actually think that the Alouettes are in a much better position than many people give them credit for when it comes to National receiver. There is currently no veteran Canadian for Montreal, but they do have plenty of young men ready to shine at training camp. That being said, drafting Buren would add yet another talented youngster with a great set of hands to the roster.
Again, I cannot guarantee that the Alouettes will draft all or any of these players. But if they do, you as a fan of this team should be very excited.
Thursday’s draft should get the juices flowing as you’ll get to see a look into your team’s future. As always, you can follow along on Twitter to find out who will be joining the Montreal Alouettes as they prepare for the 2018 CFL season.
A new dawn is upon Alouettes Nation. I’m excited to see who will join this new coaching staff for the 2018 season and you should be too.