The ALSternative — 2020 CFL Draft Preview

It’s CFL Draft time!!

After months of preparation, the best and the brightest football talent that this great nation has to offer will take center stage Thursday night starting at 8pm ET on TSN and on CFL.ca.

As has been the case the past few years, some of this nation’s best football talent got noticed early down south and were scooped up during the NFL Draft last week. Despite now being employed by NFL squads, names like Chase Claypool, Neville Gallimore and Marc-Antoine Dequoy are still eligible to be drafted by CFL teams.

On the surface, selecting a player already drafted into the NFL would seem like a wasted exercise. The best example of that would be the Calgary Stampeders selecting current Kansas City Chief (and newly-crowned Super Bowl champion) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the fourth round of the 2016 CFL Draft.

Safe to say that barring some VERY unusual circumstances, the good doctor from McGill University will never set foot on a CFL football field. Be it for Calgary or any other team.

So should your team shy away from drafting such a talent? Again, the name of the game when it comes to the draft is the ability to address needs. A team that is stacked with talent are in a much better position to take a flyer on an NFL draftee. Whereas a team that has major roster holes to fill will be less likely to make such gambles.

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This year’s National talent draft will have a very unusual look/feel to it, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all currently affected by. Due to health and safety concerns, the CFL cancelled its annual Combine events that help potential draft picks showcase their abilities. As a result, the scouting staffs of each CFL team will have to rely on their notes from last season, highlight video packages from Youtube or HUDL and their instinctual needs when it comes to selecting the future stars of their football franchise.

This will also be the first draft for Danny Maciocia as the Montreal Alouettes’ general manager. He’s participated in CFL drafts before as the former GM of the Edmonton Eskimos and is coming into this one fresh from the USports ranks. Along with new Director of National Scouting Byron Archambault, Maciocia will have to prove that he is able to find new talent from the entire college football smorgasbord and not rely solely on the RSEQ talent that he’s seen first-hand as head coach of the Universite de Montreal Carabins.

In total, the Alouettes will select players at the #14th, #16th, #22nd, #25th, #33rd, #49th, #51st, #60th, #66th and #69th position. This, of course, is barring any last-minute trades to move up/down the draft order. The Alouettes don’t have a first round pick after sending it and next year’s first-rounder to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for some guy who is doing a great job social distancing himself from possessing actual talent.

But with a pair of picks in the second, sixth and eighth rounds, the potential for Montreal to add some great unknown talent is there for the taking. And should they still be undrafted, some of those aforementioned Canadians drafted by NFL teams could be taken in later rounds. A sort of calculated risk in case their career opportunities down South don’t pan out.

This is going to be a “show-me” draft for the Montreal Alouettes’ scouting team. You know how to find that hidden diamond in the rough? Show me. You know how to maximize value when it comes to national talent? Show me. You say that you will not solely draft Quebec-born francophone football players?

Show me.

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Now time for the fun part of this column: Speculating on who Montreal actually selects!

Just like in years previous, I can only offer up who I personally feel would be a great addition to the Montreal Alouettes. There’s no guarantee the Alouettes will select these young men but if they do, you folks should be very excited.

To switch things up this year, I’m posting these prospects’ highlights with their blurb. And if you want to shoot them a follow on Twitter, just click on their names.

In no particular order, here are the names that Alouettes fans should hope gets added to the roster on Thursday:

Kayden Johnson, York (RB)

With the retirement of Ryder Stone, the Alouettes are a bit thin at National tailback. Drafting this incredible speedster would give this offense a major shot in the arm. Johnson was named York University’s 2018 Male Athlete of Year, dominating at football and at track & field. Kayden not only has that burst, but he’s very hard to tackle. Mostly because you can’t tackle what you can’t catch. This would be a very solid add for Montreal.

Sam Acheampong, Laurier (DL)

This can easily be the crown jewel of this draft, especially for a team that will need to reload its defensive line. Fast, physical and aggressive are just a few words that best describe this Brampton native. Sam’s ability to blow past offensive linemen and become a heat-seeking missile to the QB makes this a very wise pick for any CFL team. Laurier has produced some real studs on the D-Line in the past and Acheampong is the latest in a very long and proud lineage.

Brian Harelimana, Montreal (LB)

On the surface, this is a gimme pick for Danny Maciocia. He knows this hard-hitting playmaker very well, having coached him just a few short months ago. A two-time All-Canadian that played in last November’s Vanier Cup, Brian makes plays happen, period. Harelimana and his six-foot, 225 pound frame would not look out of place lining up alongside fellow National studs Henoc Muamba and D.J. Lalama.

Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo (REC)

Honestly, I don’t think the Alouettes really NEED another National receiver. Heck, they had a hard time getting guys like Felix Faubert-Lussier and Malcolm Carter any consistent reps last season. But one look at this talented pass-catcher and you’ll see why they should make some room for him. Ternowski has great hands and is a textbook example of what a slotback in this league should look like. His talents on the field and scholastic dedication off of it led to him being named the 2020 Male Athlete of the Year by Waterloo University. There is lots to like with this young man and he has the tools to be a star for a long time.

Jonathan Femi-Cole, Western (RB)

When you have the makings of a high-octane offense like what Vernon Adams is cultivating in Montreal, you want everyone to go from 0-100 mph. Femi-Cole can turn on the speed right away and he hits the hole hard. If the O-Line can give him lanes, Jonathan will take flight. Even more impressive is his ability to stay vertical after he gets hit. Joining the Mustangs after a stint with the NCAA’s Minnesota Golden Gophers, Femi-Cole is built for speed but his endurance will be what wins him those valuable reps in training camp.

Adam Auclair, Laval (DB/LB)

This appears to be another “Maciocia will take him because he’s French” pick that you’ll hear about from the ROC. But then again, why wouldn’t you select a Vanier Cup MVP if you can? His older brother is Antony Auclair, who is currently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But make no mistake, Adam is not at all in his brother’s shadow. Auclair has that ability to disrupt the quarterback with blistering speed and he hits like a truck.  His trademark as a turnover machine makes Auclair a very easy pick if your team needs to bolster its defense in a hurry.

Stavros Katsantonis, UBC (DB)

The Alouettes already have a blue-chip secondary stud from UBC in Dominique Termansen. But as far as I am concered, the only thing better than one blue-chip secondary stud from UBC is TWO blue-chip secondary studs from UBC! This Vancouver resident reads the QB & field very well, leading to many turnovers. Stavros can go toe-to-toe with receivers and he plays between the whistles with a chip on his shoulder. A positive PED test in 2019 delayed his draft eligibility so Katsantonis will be eager to overcome that hurdle with some very inspired play.

Reshaan Davis, Ottawa (DL)

http://www.hudl.com/v/2AwCye

One look at Reshaan and you will see an excellent edge rusher that is ready to compete right away. Davis is able to blow by O-Line with ease in order to get to the QB. This budding sackmaster racked up 13 QB sacks in his career with the Gee-Gees and with the right coaching, can go beyond that in the CFL. Bo Banner and Nate Anderson are the future of this D-Line, but adding Davis to the arsenal would be a truly incredible move for the Alouettes to make while flying under the radar.

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Again, I cannot guarantee that the Alouettes will draft all or any of these players. But if they do, then you as a fan of this team should be very excited.

For some, the magic of the draft is lost on a lot of football fans. But this event is basically the start of the football season when you think about it. Or at least it should be. Yes, this global pandemic is certainly throwing a wrench into the works. We may or may not get a full season this year.

But regardless of how things shape up in 2020, these young men will have the potential to make your football team better for years to come. That alone should get you tuned in and paying attention.

Be sure to follow along on Twitter on draft day to find out who will be joining the Montreal Alouettes as they hopefully prepare for the upcoming CFL season. And have a listen to the Alouettes FlightDeck podcast, where Tim Capper and myself discuss all things Alouettes, including this year’s CFL draft! You can find the podcast by searching the keywords “Alouettes FlightDeck” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher and Spotify.

Enjoy your CFL Draft night and if you’re rooting for a certain player to be selected, may the odds be ever in your favour. As always, thanks for reading.

GO ALS GO!!!