This offseason it became apparent that the Ottawa Redblacks coming off of a 3-11 season were all in on a rebuild. Not only did they go out and sign veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, but they also brought back veteran running back William Powell as well. However, they didn’t even remotely stop there proving to be the most active team in CFL free agency in 2022.
Ottawa began signing players for the 2022 season even before the season ended in 2021. They signed Devlin “Duck” Hodges to play quarterback hoping to find some semblance of stability at the position back in September of 2021. However, after appearing in a couple of games the Redblacks had seen enough and knew Hodges wasn’t the answer for 2022.
QB Dominique Davis (signed by Montreal)
OL Juwaan Bushell-Beaty
OL Na’ty Rodgers
DB Brad Muhammed
DB Brandon Dandridge (pursuing NFL)
WR Ervin Phillips
WR Kenny Stafford
WR Devonte Dedmon (pursuing NFL)
QB Devlin Hodges *retired*
OL Jon Mott *retired*
OL SirVincent Rodgers *retired*
QB Jeremiah Masoli
RB William Powell
RB/DB Jackson Bennett
WR Jaelin Acklin
WR Bj Cunningham
WR Llevi Noell
OL Ucambre Williams
OL Hunter Steward
OL Darius Ciraco
DL Kwaku Boateng
DL Lorenzo Mauldin IV
DB Patrick Levels
DB Monshadrik “Money” Hunter
DB Trumaine Washington
The addition of key free agents across the board has allowed the Redblacks to approach the drafts with best player available the strategy. They were able to fill most if not all of their needs in free agency by signing a total of 27 players this offseason at positions all over the roster. Nine of those players are expected to play large roles on offense, and another five on defense are expected to play big roles. That’s a significant amount of turnover in one offseason.
The training camp process will be extremely crucial this offseason to get this rebuilt roster back on the same page following the draft. With 27 players added via free agency, this roster is over half full of players with no prior experience as a team together, and we haven’t gotten to the draft process yet.
The Redblacks have the opportunity to select a total of three global draft selections slated to be 8th, 11th, and 26th in the three-round draft that pairs Mexican, and European players looking to make it to the CFL.
In the CFL National Draft, the Redblacks hold nine selections. Including the 2nd overall pick in all eight rounds, and an extra pick in round three, 20th overall. This gives them 4 selections in the top 22 selections, further giving them the ammunition to shore up a roster that had too many issues to count in 2021.
Some interesting players to watch in the 2022 CFL draft process for Ottawa to look at:
Tre Ford QB:
First of all, I think all nine teams in the league are looking at the potential of selecting Tre Ford, as the first overall pick. Ford has the potential to be drafted by the NFL in 2022, but there is a good chance due to his play in U-Sports in the Canadian game that he is underrated in the NFL draft process, and goes no higher than the middle rounds. This could prompt a team to take their chances on selecting him with their first overall selection in the draft.
Ottawa could look to this option holding three picks in the first two rounds, and having cemented their roster with veterans at every position. With Masoli, onboard, and several young backups quarterback might look like a position of luxury, but Masoli is 33 years old, and the CFL is known for its short-term contract offers.
There is a good chance in two seasons Masoli is gone whether it to be retirement or free agency once again. Drafting a transcendent talent like Ford in round 1 could make some sense for Ottawa that needs a future at the position, and it doesn’t appear they are sold on Tyrie Adams, Taryn Christian, or last year’s starter Caleb Evans yet. Selecting Ford, the Niagara Falls, Ontario native would be a win for the Ottawa team.
Jesse Luketa LB:
If they choose to pass on a quarterback there are a couple of players that make sense here. The first player is Jesse Luketa, Luketa is an Ottawa native which would likely endear him to fans immediately, but for all the player movement this offseason for Ottawa, linebacker was the position that they didn’t seem to address in free agency. Instead choosing to focus on offensive help at QB, WR, RB, and OL, and focusing on the defensive line, and secondary for the defense. That makes Luketa a perfect pick in round 1.
Bring home the Ottawa native, shore up your linebacking corps, and add a guy who can be with the team for years to come. He might even be a guy who can impact the team right away as a rookie depending on how training camp shakes out.
Tyrell Richards LB/DB:
Richards is a player I expect all nine teams to target to some degree. He might be the best player on this board that is expected to play in the CFL for most of his career. Despite showcasing otherworldly versatility by lining up as a linebacker, defensive lineman, and defensive back in college I don’t expect the NFL to select him in their draft allowing the CFL to focus on him as the best player in their draft process.
Richards was not my top pick here, because of the ties Luketa has to Ottawa, and how popular the pick would be for the team, but also I don’t necessarily believe Richards falls past the top overall selection. IF he does, that makes this draft extremely interesting for the Redblacks.
Noah Zerr OL:
A man following in his father’s foot steps, Noah Zerr is a solid offensive lineman that I expect to see his name called in round two. This makes him a prime candidate for the Redblacks who have not one but two second-round selections this season. Zerr once ranked as the 20th overall draft prospect attended the University of Saskatchewan. So it could be that the Roughriders are a team that overvalues him due to his local ties.
However, if this isn’t the case the Redblacks would be smart to add a young lineman to shore up a position following an offseason that saw the team sign 4 veteran linemen to help solidify an offensive line that didn’t live up to expectations in 2021.
Jalen or Tyson Philpot WR:
Tre Ford isn’t the only twin on this list. Twin brothers Jalen and Tyson Philpot are highly regarded national receivers that could potentially give Ottawa long-term options at the position. Could we see a situation where they use both of their second-round picks on this pair of brothers to solidify the receiver position for the foreseeable future, or is it a year where they pass on the position completely after the free agency period they just had? I believe the Philpot brothers are locks to end up in the CFL, especially after their father had a long and successful career in the league as a RB. Having been raised by a career running back, I could see both receivers, being used at times in the jet sweep and reverse game at the CFL level. This is another luxury pick, but at the same time, Ottawa signed veteran receivers to short-term contracts and needs guys on the roster that could be long-term answers at the position when the veterans inevitably move on.
Daniel Adeboboye RB:
Versatile running back who showed during his senior season he can be used as a pass-catcher in addition to his running abilities. During his college career he managed to clear 115 carries twice, and every season of his career he cracked 4.4 yards per carry or better. The Redblacks brought in aging veteran William Powell, and Jackson Bennett also a veteran himself. While this makes for a solid backfield, adding more youth to the position, and a guy who can improve as a player during his “redshirt” year behind the veterans in the CFL.
In 2021 he helped lead his team to a 7-4 record including a 5-2 record within the conference. Nothing to sneeze at in college. One thing about him is consistency. He is noted for breaking a 30+ yard carry each season of his college career, and through the air, he has managed highs of 12, 13, and 17 in 3 of 4 seasons. I feel this displays his burst, and ability to drive through first contact.
The 5’11 215 pound back proved his strength taking the top honors for most reps in the bench press at 28. His pass protection left something to be desired, but he has the requisite strength, and size to correct this issue at the CFL level with proper coaching. He once said he would like to train with Christian McCaffery because of the player he is, so maybe Adeboboye, has his eyes set on a dual threat role at the CFL level, a position the Redblacks would be thrilled for him to fill when Powell is ready to hang up the cleats and call it a career.
Although their main focus is the CFL national draft, the Global draft does present the possibility to add talent as well. Holding the 8th of 9 picks in the Global draft isn’t ideal, but with the Global draft featuring a snake style pattern, they also pick 11th in the second round.
With six players eligible for the draft with previous experience in the ELF, three players from the LFA, ten from the GFL, and two from the X-League we have some real talent in the Global Draft. I am particularly interested to see how the CFL teams view the offensive linemen from these leagues. We often hear complaints about offensive linemen not being ready coming out of college. However, these men all have previous experience in professional football with solid coaching. Perhaps this gives them more of an edge over linemen straight from college.
With that being said I expect the Redblacks take a close look at:
Otavio Amorim of the ELF’s Berlin Thunder
Otavio Amorim, a Brazilian native, attempted to make the leap to the NFL back in 2020 when he tried out for the NFL International Pathways Program, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. He wound up with the ELF in 2021 playing for the Berlin Thunder. Now he finds himself attempting to parlay his ELF experience into a selection in the Global Draft. He stands 6’2 343 pounds and managed 21 reps in the bench press, as well as a 7.8 3 cone drill.
Gerritt Brandt of the GFL’s New Yorker Lions
Gerritt Brandt of the GFL is an interesting prospect. At 21 years old he joined the GFL in 2019. He stuck in the league for three seasons ultimately entering the Global Draft at 24 years old. He stands 6’3 313 pounds, and while he displayed a bit more strength than the aforementioned Amorim, he fell behind by .14 seconds in the 40-yard dash but managed a better 3 cone drill and shuttle time. Brandt is overall the better athlete but the difference isn’t dramatic here. However, both linemen offer upside for a team leaning on veteran free agents at the majority of their starting spots.
Salvador Cabrera DB of the LFA
Salvador Cabrera was the first overall pick in the LFA draft in 2022 and is just 25 years old making him one of the higher-profile players, yet one of the younger players still. This is particularly valuable to a team like Ottawa which doesn’t need the help right away but needs someone that can step in for the 2023 season when some of their veterans move on in free agency.
The Redblacks put themselves in an enviable position by allowing themselves freedom in the draft processes to select whoever they see helping their team long-term. In a draft that often sees players spend a year on the roster learning their way before they make an impact Ottawa seems poised to keep their roster competitive for years to come if they make the right moves in this season’s draft process. With the 2nd overall pick, all eyes will be on the Redblacks shortly after the draft kicks off.
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