The Montreal Alouettes drafted some new football players this past Thursday. Will we actually get to see them in action? Here’s hoping so.
The draft is usually the unofficial start of the CFL football season. But with this world in the grips of a global pandemic, there is so much uncertainty as to whether or not we’ll actually see any live football in 2020.
This season was supposed to be the start of a new era for the Alouettes and their new front office, led by general manager and former Usports maven Danny Maciocia. Having experienced a renaissance in 2019 on the field after years of struggle, Montreal gave its fans hope that they were finally back to their winning ways.
Free agency this past off-season gave us a glimpse as to the direction this franchise wants to go. But many people expected Maciocia to shine when draft day came around due to his wealth of USports experience. Many people also expected him to exclusively draft Quebec-born players in order to ensure that the Alouettes remain the mecca for this province’s budding football stars.
Did Danny Mac succeed in his goals? Has he made the right moves? It’s obviously too soon to tell, but let’s have a more detailed look at his first Alouettes draft class.
Just like I did for the draft preview, I’m posting highlight packages of the new draftees so you can hopefully see what the Alouettes see in these young men. You can also shoot them a follow on Twitter (if they have one) by clicking on their names.
So without further ado, let’s meet the newest members of the Montreal Alouettes:
Round 2: Marc-Antoine Dequoy, DB, Montreal
This was perhaps the safest pick that Danny Maciocia could have made with his first selection. It also happens to be an absolute slam-dunk. Marc-Antoine is fresh off a Vanier Cup appearance and also showed out as an invitee to the East-West Shrine Bowl. Possessing all the tools to be a superstar in this league, Dequoy has impressed scouts everywhere with his football mind and defensive prowess.
Dequoy is also unbelievably fast, posting a ridiculous forty time of 4.35. All this talent led him to sign with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent (UDFA) when the NFL Draft was finished. Whether or not he’ll actually be able to crack the lineup in Green Bay remains to be seen.
Maciocia is banking on this Ile-Bizard native to eventually make his way back to Canada and become a premier player in this league.
Round 2: Cameron Lawson, DL, Queen’s
I actually had Lawson on the short list for my draft preview, but honestly didn’t think he’d still be available for Montreal in the second round. Strong like a bull, Cameron seems to enjoy punishing people on the football field.
He hits with the impact of a bowling ball and seems to sniff out quarterbacks almost instinctively. Plays mostly on the interior and just barrels his way into the party. I can see Lawson and his 6’3, 280+ pound frame being a real physical presence on special teams as he carves his path throughout the CFL.
Round 3: Carter O’Donnell, OL, Alberta
A lot of CFL Draft experts were shocked to see this Alberta-born hoss fall all the way to the third round. But his signing as a UDFA with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts likely had something to do with that. Already flush with National offensive linemen, the Alouettes rolled the dice and selected O’Donnell, knowing full well that he may not come north for a while yet.
But securing this highly-rated lineman’s rights may prove to be a wise move down the line, much like when the Alouettes drafted Philip Blake back in 2011. Carter is physically gifted and plays this game with grit. He’ll be a workhorse for years to come.
Round 3: Benoit Marion, DL, Montreal
For the second time in this draft, Danny Maciocia opts for the comfortable choice of taking a player he coached while with the Carabins. Deceptively fast coming off the edge, this lanky monster can mix it up and knows how to get to the quarterback.
Marion was among the 2019 RESQ league leaders in sacks and this talented Montrealer got some championship game experience in last November’s Vanier Cup. He will push fellow D-linemen like Bo Banner and Nate Anderson with some very competitive reps if/when we get a training camp.
Round 4: Brian Harelimana, LB, Montreal
As I said in my draft preview, this would be a gimme pick for Maciocia to make. Harelimana brings so much potential to the table and he has to be thrilled to continue playing football in his home province. This pick was a no-brainer for Montreal.
Being surrounded by the talented Alouettes linebackers is going to make Brian an even better football player. There’s no denying his motor and if the Alouettes do get to host a training camp, I see this youngster making an immediate impact on a very good defense.
Round 6: Andrew Becker, OL, Regina
This is an impressive get. Becker has played guard/center for the Regina Rams and I am amazed at his ability to open up lanes for a running back (or mobile quarterback!) to go through. Andrew seems to stifle defenders with ease, allowing the offensive play to develop.
He was expected to be drafted a lot higher but a pair of concussions suffered in his Usports career became a major concern. The Alouettes do have some great depth on the O-Line and adding this potential beast could go down as one of Maciocia’s more shrewd personnel moves.
Round 6: Jersey Henry, LB, Concordia
Danny Maciocia once again selects a player from the RESQ and he found a guy that will compliment this linebacking corps very nicely. Henry has good quickness and is able to tackle with the best of them.
He tracks quarterbacks well and will make them think twice before throwing in his direction. Jersey is a bit on the smaller side but is fearless, coming off the edge when called upon. This can very well prove to be an underrated depth move.
Round 7: Vincent Alessandrini, SB, Concordia
Every year, there always seems to be that one head-scratcher of a pick. There’s not a whole lot of recent film on this Laval native. And his career numbers don’t exactly scream success. But as head coach of the Carabins, Maciocia had seen this young man play on numerous occasions and felt comfortable enough to take a late-round flyer on this budding slotback.
Alessandrini now has the opportunity to learn from some great receivers in Montreal and with a bit of seasoning, can be a fun project for the future.
Round 8: Brock Gowanlock, DL, Manitoba
Montreal is looking for edge rushers to eventually replace John Bowman. But I actually see a lot of Bowman’s mentor Anwar Stewart in the young Gowanlock (His wearing Anwar’s #9 for the Bisons certainly doesn’t hurt that thought process).
Brock was originally a defensive tackle and topped the 300 pound mark at one point. But he slimmed down and gained a lot of foot speed to come after quarterbacks with. Gowanlock is a punisher and he’ll look great playing on the same field of fellow University of Manitoba alum D.J. Lalama.
Round 8: Colton Klassen, RB, Saskatchewan
I was THISCLOSE to adding this Saskatoon-born running back to my draft preview. The lack of any substantial game film was the main reason why he didn’t make the cut. But check out his pro day film and you will be impressed. Built like a fire hydrant and with great bursts of speed, Klassen will provide that bowling ball-like momentum when he’s given the rock.
Colton will also be a special teams dynamo despite the lack of height, as his ability to return kicks also cannot be overlooked. Special teams coach Mickey Donovan will find ways to get this diamond in the rough the polish that he needs.
BONUS: Adam Sinagra, QB, Calgary
Yesterday, the Montreal Alouettes added the Pointe-Claire, Quebec (!) native to the roster as an non-counter/undrafted free agent.
The former Hec Crighton trophy winner capped off a very spectacular USports career by leading the University of Calgary Dinos to a Vanier Cup win over the Montreal Carabins and his new general manager. Once again, Danny Mac got to see first-hand the gifts that this young passer has and he was able to bring in yet another local guy.
Sinagra was an invitee to previous CFL training camps in Alberta, picking up tips from guys like Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris just to name a few. Canadian quarterbacks are rarely given the opportunity to truly grow at the professional level. And yes, the Alouettes already have former Laval Rouge et Or QB Hugo Richard on the roster.
But there’s certainly no harm in seeing what this young man can do in a real training camp situation. Et oui media de Montréal, il parle en français (And yes Montreal media, he does speak French).
If I can offer one thought about Danny Maciocia’s first draft as the Alouettes’ general manager, it would be this: He played it safe.
With the lack of combines and pro days to properly evaluate the entire 2020 draft class, I think all nine CFL general managers had to play it safe and not take too many risks.
Maciocia did draft some talented players but it was from a safe place in that he coached in the RESQ for a decade plus. Thus, half of his draft class consisted of players he’s either coached or coached against. Rather than take a risk with a player that can’t be evaluated in person, the thought appeared to be to go with the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know.
That surely had to be the consensus league-wide as many teams opted to draft more locally when the most talented players were immediately snapped up. Montreal had needs to address and opted to go local in order to do so as well as taking a calculated risk on two players that signed UDFA contracts in the NFL.
Overall, I think the Alouettes made some solid moves. I would have liked them to think outside the box a little more, but this didn’t seem to be the year to do that due to circumstances beyond all of our control.
But there is a lot to like here and with any luck, we’ll hopefully get the chance to see all this talent live on a football field soon.
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! You can find the FlightDeck online at Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher and Spotify.
As always, go ahead and follow me on Twitter for all the latest news, thoughts and more.
Despite these challenging times, we are one small step closer to getting football back, folks. As always, thanks for reading.