On May 3, the Edmonton Elks will make their own piece of history when they make the first overall pick in the CFL Draft.
It is only the fourth time since 1985 that Edmonton has picked first place. The team picked up running back Sean Millington in 1990, slotback Don Blair in 1996, and picked defensive lineman Adam Braidwood as the first overall pick in 2006.
Elks’ GM Chris Jones, of course, had nothing to do with those picks. He and his assistant GM Geroy Simon go into the draft with many options and want to make the most of their picks more than anything else. While the CFL draft differs from the drafts of other professional leagues in North America, picking the No. 1 carries similar pressures. There are 73 names that will follow Edmonton’s picks this year, and over time those picks will hold up against this No. 1 spot.
Jones, Simon and the rest of the Elks football team have been working and will continue to work around the clock to make their final decision in about a week and a half. Here are a few options ahead of you.
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After a combine that allowed the Syracuse linebacker to show off his versatility — he worked in drills all over the field and wasn’t just hemmed into that LB spot — Richards looks like a perfect match for Edmonton. Known for his creativity as a defensive coordinator, Jones loves to mix things up schematically, dropping defensive linemen and getting linebackers into the action, and creating general confusion and chaos for opposing quarterbacks.
On a media call this week after moving up to No. 3 in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s spring rankings, Richards was (unsurprisingly) very open to the idea of playing for the Elks.
“It would be an amazing thing to be a part of the overall win, especially after Edmonton,” Richards told reporters.
“It would be cool, but at the same time it doesn’t change what I’m going to do once I get drafted. It doesn’t change how I prepare for things. I went to the combine to prepare a trail and I will go to the camp to prepare the same way. I don’t really care if I finish first or 60th. I just want to be out there and play football.”
You can’t go wrong with the o-line
There are seven offensive linemen who rank between 10th and 20th in the updated Scouting Bureau rankings. Let’s focus on two for now.
Noah Zerr measured 1.80 meters and 305 pounds at last month’s CFL Combine presented by New Era and finished the weekend as the top-ranked O-lineman in the Scouting Bureau (No. 10). A first-team All-Canadian who played left tackle with the Saskatchewan Huskies last year, Zerr has the size and experience of a successful program behind him as he seeks to make the leap to the CFL. He also has the genes as his father Rob Zerr played football at the U of S in the early 1980s and his mother Patti was a standout high school basketball player in her day.
The next O-Lineman on the Scouting Bureau’s list is just a few stops from Commonwealth Stadium on the LRT from Edmonton. Rodeem Brown entered the CFL Combine as an unranked and slightly undersized prospect. The 5’11, 280-pound University of Alberta guard showed why he was also a first-team All-Canadian O-lineman in 2021 when he more than held his own in a tackle against the opposing D-lineman. When it comes down to it, the Elks have had no problem scouting the U of A campus for some of coach Chris Morris’ talent. Could Brown be the next Golden Bear to wear the moose’s green and gold?
Why not add a Canadian to the QB mix?
One of the first questions Jones faced in a media call last month was what he planned to do with his team’s quarterback spot. The Elks have signed seven QBs at the moment, with Nick Arbuckle the most experienced, though Jones hasn’t directly named the well-travelled former backup as his starter.
It might be a big swing overall at first, but Tre Ford appears to be an exceptionally talented quarterback who’s turning heads. Last year’s Hec Crighton winner, Ford, finished his four-year career at Waterloo with 64 touchdowns from 24 interceptions and rushed for more than 2,800 yards. He jumped from No. 6 to No. 4 in the updated Scouting Bureau rankings.
A 4.5-second 40 on University of Buffalo Pro Day in March caught the attention of NFL scouts and his work at the CFL Combine later in the month — he hit a 6.85-second drill with 3 cones up in Toronto first place – this further showed his athleticism.
If there’s an open audition for a spot in the Elks’ QB stable this year, why not add one of the most touted Canadian Pivots we’ve ever seen into the mix?
“We have a trade”
Nothing creates more excitement on draft day than these four words. At that March pre-combine call, Jones was asked about the possibility of moving the first overall pick. He didn’t seem overly interested but said he was open to offers.
“If you’re in our situation, you always have your ears open and you have to be open to what’s going on,” Jones said.
“At the same time, we created a list of people who we know have an immediate impact on our football team and allow us to open the playbook, quite honestly, proportionately, that kind of thing. That being said, it would have to be something extremely attractive for us to do. But again, you can never say never.”
Names worth thinking about
As they weigh their first pick options, it’s a safe bet to think that Calgary receivers Jalen and Tyson Philpot, Coastal Carolina DB Enock Makonzo, Western DL Deionte Knight and Waterloo DB Tyrell Ford are all in the mix.
NCAA stars John Metchie III and Jesse Luketa are talented enough to take first place overall, but their possible NFL opportunities will likely push their names further down the CFL draft list on May 3.