This past Tuesday, nine young men of Canadian origin got that phone call from the 514 that turns them from hopeful boys into professional football players. The voice on the other end would be uttering the words, “Welcome to the Montreal Alouettes!” and just like that, lives are changed forever.
The 2022 CFL Draft took place and it was a wild affair for the Alouettes, with general manager Danny Maciocia waking up that morning looking to make an immediate impact. Letting his fingers do the walking, Maciocia swung a trade with Edmonton that would see Montreal wind up with the first overall pick. He also managed to land Winnipeg’s pick in the first round as well, working his draft magic. After years of not owning a first round pick, Danny Mac decided that he wasn’t playing around when it came to adding National talent to the Birds of Prey.
The Alouettes first traded DE Cam Lawson and their 2nd round pick (13th overall) to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for their first and second round picks (9th & 18th overall). Already slated to pick 4th, some may think that Montreal was already sitting pretty now with two first-rounders. But Maciocia wasn’t done.
He then swapped that #4 overall pick along with the rights to OL Carter O’Donnell to the Edmonton Elks in order to move into that first overall spot. Quite the move for both Maciocia and Elks GM Chris Jones to make, as O’Donnell is still a member of the Indianapolis Colts. The stout Albertan is expected to compete for a roster spot after spending the past two years on the Colts’ practice squad, making this Jones decision all the more puzzling.
Clearly Chris Jones feels confident in taking a risk that O’Donnell will eventually make his way back up north and was sure of his assessment of the talent that would be available to him at #4. Only time will tell who truly won this trade, but as of that moment the Alouettes were able to truly have their pick of the litter. A draft privilege they haven’t had since 1972, when they selected future Hall of Famer and Grey Cup champion Larry Smith with the first overall pick.
Armed with an additional draft pick thanks to these moves, Danny Maciocia and his staff made their choices this past Tuesday evening. Many people expected him to once again select all Quebec-born players, a strategy he has not shied away from since he assumed the GM role in Montreal. Would that change this year or would this year’s draft class once again have a certain je ne sais quoi?
Without further ado, let’s meet the newest members of the Montreal Alouettes. You can shoot them a follow on Twitter (if they have one) by clicking on their names:
Round 1: Tyrell Richards, LB, Syracuse
This was the consensus #1 pick on many draft boards and with good reason. Richards is a bonafide playmaker and had a monster showing at the CFL Combine. While listed as a linebacker, Tyrell can slot in pretty well anywhere on the secondary with his freakish athleticism. His measurables were off the charts and I think Richards will look right in place alongside Chris Ackie & Brian Harelimana as hard-hitting National linebackers. This Brampton native will make a lot of noise on the field early and often.
Round 1: Tyson Philpot, REC, Calgary
With the Alouettes now looking to feature more National talent at receiver thanks to the addition of Hergy Mayala, this move looks to be a pleasant surprise. Along with his twin brother Jalen, Tyson helped the Dinos remain a force in Canada West. Philpot led the Dinos with 9 TD catches and looks to be a deep threat waiting to happen in the 514. The son of CFL legend Cory Philpot didn’t have the combine numbers many expected him to have but the raw talent is there for all to see. I think being surrounded by the Alouettes’ top-notch receiving corps will make this young man establish himself in a hurry.
Round 2: Rodeem Brown, OL, Alberta
You simply can’t beat Alberta beef, whether it’s on your dinner plate or on your football field. Montreal’s offensive line gets another futures selection with the choosing of this Halifax native (I know, I said Alberta beef but work with me here). Brown will be heading back to the University of Alberta this year and his football skills will only develop further at the USports level. When he finally does suit up for Montreal, this brute will only help Montreal’s backfield run roughshod by stopping defensive linemen in their tracks.
Round 3: Vincent Forbes-Mombleau, REC, Laval
Can you believe that Danny Maciocia waited until the THIRD round to draft a Quebec-born player?! I didn’t see that one coming and neither did, well, anyone. But his first choice is a young man that tested well at the combine and has been a solid member of the Rouge et Or. Vincent has his work cut out for him with the sudden wealth of National talent at receiver in Montreal. But he’ll get his opportunity to shine in La Belle Province and will make the most of his chance.
Round 4: Tysen-Otis Copeland, DB, Montreal
The former Carabins head coach reaches into his past to draft a player he helped recruit and develop for the Universite de Montreal. This lanky defender will be expected to go toe-to-toe with opposing receivers by using his size to disrupt their rhythm. Like many young Canadians though, Copeland will have to bide his time on special teams as his CFL career gets underway.
Round 5: Ryth-Jean Giraud, RB, Montreal
The Alouettes are pretty stacked at the running back position. But the sheer physicality of this Laval native will give his fellow backfield mates a literal run for their money. Averaging 6.6 yards per carry as a member of the Carabins, Giraud can turn on the jets when needed and is not afraid to take a lick in doing so. He’s already drawn comparisons to one Sean Thomas-Erlington, whose had himself a good career as tailback thus far with the Tiger-Cats.
Round 6: Peter Kozushka, OL, Alberta
Now this is a big fella with major potential! Kozushka was able to hang tough with the hogs at the Combine, not afraid to push his weight around. I think Alouettes OL Coach Luc Brodeur-Jourdoin will see a lot of himself in this Yorkton, SK resident. Not very mobile, but if Peter can create lanes for his running backs (and quarterback!) to move the ball downfield, he’ll find himself a home alongside names like Sean Jamieson, Philippe Gagnon and Landon Rice. I’m not mad at this late-round selection at all.
Round 7: Yanis Chihat, LB, Laval
Yanis is an athlete whose ability to go from linebacker to defensive end will serve him well. There’s not a lot of tape on him, but he has gotten a lot of praise from his coaches for his work ethic. He does have the ability to track the ball and can be a solid depth piece in camp. It may be to his advantage that he’s a relative unknown; sometimes those are the best finds when it comes to roster talent.
Round 8: Zach Lindley, LB, Western
The best way I can describe this Chatham, ON native is DISRUPTIVE. His ability to fluster opponents and cause turnovers makes this a sneaky-good pick for the Alouettes. A member of the 2021 Vanier Cup-winning Mustangs, Zach is not afraid to put the wood to someone if it means they don’t gain any ground. Defensive Coordinator Barron Miles likes him some guys with a nasty streak to them and Lindley fits that to a T. Given the right environment to develop, I think this is a player that can and will make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
Global Draft Round 1: Kingsley Jonathan, DE, Syracuse
Before the Alouettes made their moves to be in the top spot of the National Draft, they held the first overall pick in the 2022 Global Draft. They used that selection to take the Nigerian-born Kingsley, who also played with eventual Alouette draft pick Tyrell Richards in upstate New York. Jonathan has recently signed with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills as a UDFA so this feels more like of a “securing his rights” pick than anything else.
Global Draft Round 2: Thomas Odukoya, TE, Eastern Michigan
A native of the Netherlands, Odukoya plays tight end, a role rarely seen in the CFL. Thomas turned in a solid career with Eastern Michigan and like Kingsley Jonathan, will also start his pro career in a NFL camp. He’s got the height and some great hands so if it doesn’t pan out as a member of the Tennessee Titans, this diamond in the rough wouldn’t look out of place here in Montreal.
Global Draft Round 3: Kirk Christodoulou, P, Pittsburgh
Why would the Alouettes draft another Australian punter after doing that with Joseph Zema in 2021? I say, why wouldn’t you? Zema proved to be an excellent addition to the Alouettes and there’s nothing wrong with a little extra competition. Kirk had a successful career with Pitt and should he be in camp later this month, we’ll be seeing some footballs take flight via the Aussie boots. Someone notify the air traffic controllers in Trois-Rivieres, please.
My overall grade on this year’s CFL Draft class for the Montreal Alouettes? I’m going with a solid A!
We all expected Danny Maciocia to go Quebec-heavy in this draft. And he did select quite a few players from the RSEQ, that was to be expected. But he took the best players available and addressed the needs of this team very nicely. He also proved quite crafty in trading to get the spots that he felt he needed to be in. Overall, I’d say this is the best draft class that Danny Maciocia has assembled thus far as Montreal Alouettes general manager.
He’s added to the O-Line, he’s restocked the defense and helped strengthen the National receiving corps, which has been a draft pick graveyard for Montreal in recent years. There’s a good balance of players that can start right away along with development projects for later on. The Alouettes have found some talented players that can potentially be future superstars in this league. Now comes the hard part; further developing all of this burgeoning talent.
With the loss of several key players in free agency, there is a golden opportunity for not only this year’s draft class but the 2020/2021 players on this roster to take that next step towards being major players for this franchise. Roster spots are not promised to anyone, they have to be earned and the cream will always rise to the top. I’m ready for some of these younger men to level up and prove that they belong in the conversation.
There is an awful lot to like about the structure of this team; plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball and a strong balance of youth & experience. Once again, people appear to be sleeping on this Alouettes team despite them being one of the most exciting teams to watch on game day since 2019. With things looking to get back to as close to normal as possible, this Montreal squad is looking to further establish themselves and live up to the hype they started to foster three short years ago.
I’m finding myself very pleased with this team’s direction and I think the best is truly yet to come. It will all get underway later this month in Trois-Rivieres when training camp opens on May 15th. Fans will be welcome to attend for the first time since 2019 and you owe it to yourself to attend if you can. This team is looking like a true contender and will be putting it all out on display for you starting this month.
Be sure to 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 Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.
As always, go ahead and follow me on Twitter for all the latest news, thoughts and more.
I like to think of the CFL Draft as the last major event of the off-season. Now that the dust has settled and the picks were made, it’s on to CFL training camps to see just what talent this league has to offer and who will officially be wearing Alouettes red & blue in 2022.
As always, thanks for reading.