CFL Draft Preview: Analysts weigh in on what the Roughriders need

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

Who will the Saskatchewan Roughriders take with the third overall pick in the 2024 CFL Draft?

It’s a question that will be answered on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. as the Riders will be on the clock at No. 3 following the Edmonton Elks at No. 1 and the Ottawa Redblacks at No. 2 in this year’s CFL Draft.

And while Roughriders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day has drafted just one offensive lineman in the first round since 2019, one draft analyst suggests that’s where Saskatchewan should look this year, considering the move they made this off-season by signing star running back A.J. Ouellette.

“You went out and got A.J. Ouellette so that you can beat people up and if you want to beat people up, you should go get an offensive lineman who’s going to clear holes to get him to the second level,” said Marshall Ferguson, columnist.

“I’m not saying that it’s a plug-and-play immediate starter but I would say whatever offensive lineman they like the most that they think can help their running game without sacrificing much in terms of health for (quarterback) Trevor Harris, I just feel like that would be a good fit.

“And it would also send a message, not just to the Rider fan base, but also to the rest of the league that what you think we are building here by getting A.J. Ouellette, we’re absolutely building and you’re going to have to stop it.”

In his mock draft, Ferguson predicts the Riders will select Salmon Arm, B.C. product Gabe Wallace out of the University of Buffalo with the third overall pick.

Wallace was recently ranked No. 12 in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s spring rankings, behind five other offensive linemen who could get opportunities south of the border as the NFL holds its draft this week.

TSN’s Duane Ford said what happens during the NFL Draft will very much determine where players will get selected in the CFL Draft.

“The drafted guys are obviously going to get pushed down the most,” said Forde. “The inverse relationship between NFL draft stock and CFL draft stock; the higher they go in the NFL Draft, the lower they go in the CFL Draft.”

Even if some of the top prospects aren’t drafted, they could still sign free agent contracts or receive rookie mini-camp invites, which will hurt their CFL stock.

In fact, some of the top players eligible for the CFL Draft may not be selected at all. Forde points out receiver Chase Claypool, the No. 2 prospect in 2020 who wasn’t selected in the CFL Draft after being a second-round NFL Draft pick. The Riders recently added Claypool to their negotiation list.

“When you’re talking about guys that are drafted relatively high in the NFL Draft, sometimes you’re seeing teams not drafting those guys at all and trying to add them to neg lists later as we saw recently with Claypool,” said Forde.

And that could certainly be the case again this year for players like University of Illinois offensive lineman Isaiah Adams, the No. 1 prospect, or tight ends Theo Johnson and Tanner McLachlan, who are No. 2 and 3 respectively.

Last year, Saskatchewan drafted UBC defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore with the third overall pick and followed that up by selecting Regina Rams defensive back Jaxon Ford in the second round.

The Riders also drafted linebacker Matt Dean in the third round, running back Thomas Bertrand-Hudon in the fourth, offensive lineman Sidy Sow in the sixth, offensive lineman Evan Floren and linebacker Nick Thomas in the seventh and defensive lineman Tavius Robinson in the eighth.

Korte-Moore, Ford, Dean and Bertand-Hudon all played for Saskatchewan last season while Sow and Robinson earned NFL opportunities. Floren and Thomas remain prospects.

This year, Saskatchewan has picks in the first round (third), second (12th), third (23rd), fourth (32nd), fifth (41st), sixth (50th), seventh (59th) and eighth (68th).