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Montreal Alouettes 2022 CFL Draft Preview

Heading into the 2022 Draft Circuit, Montreal might be the team that needs an infusion of young talent more than any other team in the league. Who will they target? What are their needs? Where do they select?

2022 CFL/Global Draft Montreal Alouettes Draft Preview

Heading into the 2022 CFL draft, the Montreal Alouettes, may be the team most in need of an infusion of young talent. However no unit needs more help than the defense. After allowing just 305 points in 14 games, and producing 50 sacks on the season they saw significant turnover. The Alouettes watched as several players on every level of their defense left for other teams this offseason during free agency.

Key Losses in Free Agency:

DL David Mennard 8 sacks, 18 tackles,

DL Woody Baron 6 sacks, 16 tackles

LB DJ Lalama *injured*

DB Monshadrik Hunter 2 interceptions, 45 total tackles

DB Tyqwan Glass 1 sack, 27 tackles,

DB Patrick Levels 3 sacks, 1 interception, 72 yard  TD return, 42 tackles

DB Ty Cranston 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 29 defensive tackles, 8 special teams tackles

These are just the players who have already latched on elsewhere. There is still a list of players that have yet to be resigned. Despite a strong push at retaining their own players Montreal still has six free agents sprinkled throughout their team. This leaves Montreal needing to address the defense, specifically their secondary early in the 2022 draft class. Building their secondary now through the draft will only benefit them over the next few seasons as some of these short-term fix free agent signings see their contracts begin to expire.

Positions of Need:

Defensive Back

Pass Rush

Linebacker

Wide Receiver

Draft Picks Held by Montreal:

CFL Draft Picks:

#4 overall 1st round

#13 overall 2nd round

#24 overall 3rd round

#33 overall 4th round

#42 overall 5th round

#51 overall 6th round

#60 overall 7th round

#69 overall 8th round

Global Draft Picks:

#1 overall 1st round

#18 2nd round

#19 3rd round

Projecting Potential Targets Round 1:

Tyrell Richards LB/DL/DB:

Despite highlighting the secondary as their biggest need early in the draft I believe a man Montreal needs to target with their 4th overall pick in the first round is Tyrell Richards. We all watched as Richards lit up the combine working out at DL, LB. Ultimately capable of playing DB as well but declining to work out at all three positions. This exact reason is why he is a perfect fit for the Montreal defense if he is still on the board when the Alouettes select.

Richards is a guy who at stands 6’3 and has weighed anywhere from 210 to 235 pounds in college, and has done his part in the run game, passing game via coverage, and even as a pass rusher. Richards may not have played in 2020, or 2021, but he still managed to rack up 55 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 1 interception, 2 passes defended, 2 fumbles recovered, and 1 fumble forced. This stat line gives an indication of just how valuable, and versatile he is.

Richards can come in and play a role that would help fill the shoes of several players who left in free agency. Although you won’t catch him playing cornerback, he can still do some of the same things that the defense did with 6’3 205 pound Ty Cranston. He will aid the pass rush, and likely try to replace some of David Mennard’s 8 sacks in 2021, but more directly he will replace DJ Lalama, and Paul Kozachuk as depth at linebacker.

Jesse Luketa LB:

Next to Tyrell Richards as a close 1b prospect at linebacker is Jesse Luketa. He had actually been ranked as the #1 overall prospect in the draft by many different outlets prior to the combine performance of Richards. Luketa is a unique prospect. Given that he was born and raised in Ottawa he will not count against the American/Canadian ratio in a negative manner despite receiving very high level coaching at Penn State.

Playing in 38 games over four seasons Luketa collected decent stats: 148 tackles, .5 sacks, and 1 interception. In 2021 as a senior he was named Third Team All Big Ten. He would go on to play in the 2022 Outback Bowl with Penn State who lost the game 24-10, despite allowing an impressive 4 conversions on 3rd down via 14 attempts. Luketa is more of a prototypical linebacker, and not as versatile as Richards, or the next man I will talk about.

Enock Makonzo DB:

If Richards AND Luketa have already been picked I expect them to target DB Enock Makonzo of Coastal Carolina. Enock is the type of player who could play safety, or line up as a linebacker depending on how the coaching staff views him. Again adding a player with this level of versatility can help mask many different losses the Alouettes are trying to fill via the draft.

Makonzo depending on who you ask could be ranked as high as the third best defensive player on the board behind only Richards. Although there are a few other prospects that might argue that statement given the chance.

In round two Montreal again selects 4th. This time amounting to the 13th overall selection. Having addressed linebacker and added a bit of help to the secondary by selecting either Richards or Makonzo, it’s time to really look at helping out the pass rush, or the secondary. The way Montreal approached the offseason was to fill known holes with plug and play veterans allowing them to select best player available in the draft.

Projecting Potential Targets Round 2:

DB/PR Tyrell Ford– One half of the “Famous Ford Twins” Tyrell put on a show at the combine. He ran a 4.42 40 yard dash, and leapt 38 inches, while displaying his abilities on the field as well. He adds value in the return game, and has truly elite speed in the secondary. Ford could make an immediate impact on Montreal’s secondary in 2022.

DB Jayden Dalke– Dalke is a guy who could be very interesting to watch in the CFL. He is a larger safety at 6’2 210 pounds that hits like a linebacker. He isn’t afraid to line up in the box, but primarily played free safety. He is a former CJFL All-Canadian showing his level of play prior to the draft. He could also play a rover role, as a part time linebacker/safety. He will be one heck of a player at the CFL player no matter where he lands.

LB Josiah Schakel– Some list Josiah as a defensive back, others say he is a linebacker. I lean toward him playing a linebacker position at the CFL level due to how small they like their linebackers. However I think Schakel is an asset in coverage if he is used primarily as a linebacker. He can match up against running backs, and larger pass catchers to help aid the defense and allow the defensive backs to roam free at times. Adding his versatility would be a huge boon, but this likely only happens if Makonzo is the pick in round 1.

DL Anthony Federico-Federico is a guy who made an impression in college. He is also the exact type of designated pass rusher you want replacing David Mennard. At 6’4 250 pounds, he is known for his relentless pursuit of the ball until the whistle blows. He was able to produce 20.5 sacks over his last three seasons of play and would fit in perfectly where Mennard left off. In fact Federico might be the best fit scheme wise for what Montreal wants to do in round 2.

Global Draft:

With that being said there is also the Global Draft occurring on the same day, which will make for an interesting draft process this offseason. Montreal actually holds the first overall pick. As Mike Mitchell so aptly points out in his Toronto Argonauts Draft Preview, there was one particular player that stood out among the rest. French defensive back Edris Jean-Alphonse is a player who could garner a lot of attention due to his performance in the combine. Another guy who stood out at the combine is WR Yannick Mayr of the GFL running a 4.56 40 yard dash, 10 foot 3 inch broad jump, and 7.20 3 cone drill. With that being said I could see both of these players interesting Montreal.

Edris Jean-Alphonse CB/S:

They need help in the secondary and at the “rover” linebacker position and that’s where Jean-Alphonse comes in. His 6’1 202 pound frame will be perfect for a hybrid safety/linebacker role. Granted the majority of his playing time has come at cornerback or free safety, a stark departure from the role I am describing. This however in my eyes would be an asset in this role. Montreal would have immense flexibility with him as a player to either start in this role, or simply add depth at many positions in their secondary.

Courtesy of Jean-Alphonse’s Twitter Page

Yannick Mayr WR:

The Alouettes are lucky to have a solid group of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. They have been able to retain William Stanback, Eugene Lewis, and Jake Wieneke as weapons for their quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Trevor Harris. With this being said, Wieneke and Lewis are both top performers in the league, and its well within the realm of possibility that they get NFL attention at some point, or are targeted by opposing CFL teams next time they hit the open market. With that being the case bringing in a talented wide receiver like Yannick Mayr who has professional experience within the GFL, would be a huge win for Montreal. They lost Bj Cunningham this offseason, and replacing him could be a draft priority in the mid to late rounds.

Courtesy of RAS Football
Honorable Mentions:

Mads Flat LB, Kristiansand Gladiators of Norway-5’10 206 pounds, 4.67 40 yard dash, 32.50 vertical

Ryan Gomes LB, Galo (Brazil)-6’0 223 pounds, 4.69 40 yard dash, 6.93 3 cone drill, 4.30 shuttle

Karlis Brauns DL, Wroclaw Panthers of ELF, 6’4 270 pounds, 4.97 40 yard dash, 7.57 3 cone drill

Ultimately I see Montreal targeting positions of need on defense early on, choosing to round out their offensive depth in the mid to late rounds due to the amount of high end talent they have been so lucky to bring in and retain in years past. There is a ton of talent to be had in this draft process, and many more players left over from a bloated 2021 draft class thanks to covid 19 left on the market. It will be interesting to see how Montreal attacks the draft following a relatively quiet free agency period. In over 20 years of watching football I’ve seen both approaches win Championships, but I believe the more sustainable way of building a team is through the draft process, and not on the free agency market. Good teams resign their own, and fill needs through the draft. Montreal is following this mantra this offseason, and I believe it’s a formula for success.

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