The Canadian Football League (CFL) draft was yesterday, and I am quite happy with how it went for the Montreal Alouettes.
The night started with a trade of offensive lineman Ryan Bomben to the Hamilton Tiger Cats. The Alouettes have dealt from a position of strength when it comes to National (read: Canadian) offensive linemen and with the addition of Philip Blake, they had six potential starters and only five spots.
The return was significant, a first and third round pick from the Tiger Cats but a good team for both teams. The Alouettes got to add more depth and get younger and Hamilton got a player who can start for them on the offensive line this season, something they probably couldn’t have gotten at the No. 8 pick.
Among the Alouettes selections were quarterback Brandon Bridge, who goes by the nickname Air Canada. Bridge is an interesting case. He is a Canadian quarterback who actually started at the NCAA level and got an invite to Dallas Cowboys mini camp after going undrafted in the NFL.
I am not sure if Bridge will make a career in the CFL, or even if he would choose to come north right away, but I was intrigued by him and whether a team would take a chance on him. That the team is the Alouettes is even better. To have Bridge come in and potentially learn from Anthony Calvillo, that would be huge.
Bridge isn’t a ratio changer because quarterbacks don’t count in the ratio but it is a gamble worth taking, especially if the rules become more beneficial to have a Canadian at quarterback. And it isn’t like there isn’t exactly a mainstay at QB in his path. It is definitely a developmental pick as he will have to get used to the Canadian game (weird to say for a Canadian QB) but he could be the next QB of the future.
I also like the pick ups of defensive back Anthony Coady and receiver Mikhail Davidson late in the draft from the Vanier Cup champions across town. Davidson doesn’t have the height you would like from top receivers, but you cannot argue his production at the CIS level. It is a big jump to the CFL, but you can’t go wrong stockpiling Canadian receivers.
Since Ben Cahoon retired, it has been a ratio problem for the Alouettes as Eric Deslauriers, Kyle Graves and Dave Stala have been the only options at the position in recent years. Samuel Giguere changes that quite a bit, but it never hurts to have local talent for a team that needs to re-engage the community.
With their top picks, I really like Chris Ackie and think he can be a defensive back/linebacker hybrid that fits into a Noel Thorpe defence very well. His athleticism was off the charts at the CFL Combine and his production is there in a CIS career as well. They also picked up offensive linemen Jacob Ruby (with the 8th pick), James Bodanis (with the 24th) and Quinn Lawlor (with the 48th). They rounded out the draft with linebacker Nicholas Shortill (13th overall), and receiver Alex Charette (36th overall).
Many have said that Shortill has the potential to be the top linebacker out of this draft and a Canadian there is useful for the Alouettes who have gone with a non-import at all three linebacker positions last year and look to be doing that again this year with Bear Woods, Kyries Hebert, Winston Venable and Chip Cox all back in the fold.