The 2022 CFL draft concluded on Tuesday, with 74 players from across the United States and Canada finding new homes across the league. Of those 74 picks, the Tiger-Cats only had six, but still landed a wide variety of talent. On top of their selections in the standard draft, Hamilton also took three players from the Global Draft, which will be covered here as well. Let’s take a closer look at the newest players to wear the black and gold:
Anthony Federico, DL, Queen’s (Round 2, Pick 17)
The Tiger-Cats didn’t have their first pick of the draft until round 2, as a result of a trade with the Edmonton Elks. However, they certainly found a player of first-round quality in Anthony Federico. The former Queen’s Golden Gael “lit up” the stat sheet through 23 games with the program, most notably recording 20.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss. Federico was the team’s best pick of the night, and should contribute immediately on a defense filled with All-Stars.
Kiondre Smith, WR, Guelph (Round 4, Pick 37)
Following the departure of veteran wideout Brandon Banks to the Argonauts in free agency, receiver is a position that the Tiger-Cats are continuing to find depth at. While Smith may not have a massive role in the passing game from day one, it’s his special teams abilities that make this pick intriguing. In 25 games with the Guelph Gryphons, he had 1,887 combined punt/kick return yards and one return touchdown. Long story short, Smith provides plenty of versatility and value with his skillset.
Jared Beeksma, LB, Guelph (Round 5, Pick 46)
Beeksma is somewhat of a veteran coming into the CFL, having been at Guelph since 2017. A reliable linebacker in U Sports, there isn’t anything too significant about his production, but he should give stability to both his position group and the defensive unit as a whole.
Khadeem Pierre, DB, Concordia (Round 6, Pick 55)
Pierre earned a wide variety of awards during his time with the Concordia Stingers, ranging from RSEQ Rookie of the Year to U Sports All-Canadian. At the age of 25, the “experienced” label can be put on the Ottawa native as well, who will soon be mentored by CFL standouts like Tunde Adeleke, Jumal Rolle, and Kameron Kelly.
Nicolas Guay, OL, Laval (Round 7, Pick 64)
Guay had a strong finish to his collegiate career at Laval, earning U Sports and RSEQ Offensive All-Star honors during his last season.
Jaxon Ciraolo-Brown, LB, UBC (Round 8, Pick 73)
With the second-to-last pick in the regular draft, Hamilton selected a young/high-upside prospect in Ciraolo-Brown. Although he doesn’t have a lot of games under his belt, Ciraolo-Brown intercepted four passes as a Thunderbird, which gives him potential to be the turnover machine and “big play” guy on defense.
Bailey Flint, P, Toledo (Round 1, Pick 2 – GLOBAL)
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Flint has quietly dominated at the NCAA level for several years. Although Toledo isn’t exactly a powerhouse program, Flint received back-to-back nominations for the Ray Guy Award in 2020 and 2021, given to the best punter in American college football. He was also a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to the college player who successfully achieves a balance in athletics, academics, and community service. There isn’t anything to dislike about what Flint does, whether it’s on or off the field. Second overall sounds high for a punter, but not when you’re getting the full package.
Blake Hayes, P, Illinois (Round 2, Pick 10 – GLOBAL)
Yes, Hamilton took another punter, and yes, he is also from Australia. As if the comparisons weren’t already close enough, Flint and Hayes come from the same city of Melbourne. There are more similarities that could be drawn between him and the previous pick, but I won’t list them all here. Hayes is easily the best punter Illinois has ever had, and took home the Big Ten Punter of the Year award in 2019. Simply put, he’s a likable player that will give the locker room plenty of support and guidance.
Ralfs Rusins, DT, Liberty (Round 3, Pick 27 – GLOBAL)
Rusins is not an Australian punter, but rather an interior defensive lineman from Latvia. He was the nose tackle in a unit that ranked no. 11 for total NCAA defense (2020). Although not a regular starter until his junior season, Rusins was still a force to be reckoned with by opposing centers and guards, measuring in at 6’6 325lbs. There’s no doubt he’ll be just as intimidating north of the border, and help a defensive line that recently lost Ja’Gared Davis.
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