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Reviewing the Ottawa Redblacks 2023 CFL Draft Class

The Redblacks found themselves with the top overall pick in both the Global Draft and the National Draft. This allowed them to get a couple needs out of the way before starting the National Draft. With just two rounds, the Redblacks opted to add depth and competition to their offensive and defensive lines. More on that here:

Having won just 10 games in their last three seasons the Redblacks are desperate to win once again. Since their inception in 2014, they have had just two winning seasons, the most recent one now five years ago. Overall the franchise holds a 51-87-2 record. They are 3-1 in the playoffs, and 1-2 in Grey Cups. This draft class, and the free agents still on the roster from the past two seasons have to turn this team around sooner rather than later. 

The unenviable position they find themselves in is that they can go into this draft selecting best player available, because at every area on this roster the team needs help. Whether it be depth, starting level talent, or an upgrade, there are question marks across this depth chart. Such is the product of a 10-40 record in three seasons. Will Shawn Burke and company look to find players that will make an immediate impact, or will they be looking at the long term, happy to let players develop before joining the active roster? 

With the first overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Dontae Bull, OL, Fresno State. 

Dontae Bull is a native of Victoria in British Columbia. He attended high school at Belmont Secondary, also in BC. After his time at Belmont, he would commit to Fresno State University. 

He would spend his collegiate career playing primarily right tackle, stepping in as a starter during his redshirt sophomore season. He would rack up 33 starts in 40 games before breaking his leg October 29th, 2022. He missed the last two months of the season but was healthy enough to perform in the bench press, vertical and broad jump. He managed 20 reps on the bench press, while putting up a 25.5 inch vertical, and 8 foot 3 inch broad jump all while being just a handful of months removed from breaking his leg. 

Being a Canadian native may have helped him continue his professional career earlier. The thing I love about this pick, is Shawn Burke has already stated “We’re happy he chose to make the move to Ottawa and the organization is thrilled to have him.” So it appears that Bull will immediately make the trip to Canada. Given that he still has some time before training camp begins, his performance in the CFL could reopen NFL doors that slammed shut when the Fresno State Product broke his leg late in the 2022 season. 

The Redblacks had planned ahead and stacked the second round in their favor with three selections; #10, #12, and #17. This could be a key round for the long term success of the club, depending how each pick pans out. 

With the tenth overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Lucas Corimer, DB, Mount Allison Mounties. 

Corimer brings with him tremendous size as a slot back or free safety. Standing 6’2 210 pounds he is a ballhawk when he’s in the right scheme and it showed in college. In just 21 games, he managed 9 interceptions, 8 deflections, while also forcing one fumble, and 3 recoveries. 

He also held a career average of over 3 tackles per game, and 6 career tackles for a loss. Wherever the ball is, Corimer isn’t far behind. I questioned the pick of a defensive back this high, wondering if they would opt for offense. One thing I won’t question, is their selection of Lucas Corimer. He looks like he could be another immediate contributor for the Redblacks. So far so good for Shawn Burke and company. 

Corimer put up solid numbers but isn’t the type of athlete that necessarily leaps off the page at you. It’s his production that shows the kind of player he is. At the combine he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, 10 bench press reps, 35 inch vertical, and a 7.09 3-cone drill. Again a solid performance but Corimer is a player who plays faster and stronger than his numbers indicate. 

With the Twelfth overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select James Peter, LB, Ottawa Gee Gees.

James Peter is an Ottawa native born and raised, seeing him drafted to the Ottawa Redblacks is a heart warming story anyone can get behind. More importantly it would be yet another player that is likely to take his chances and join the team immediately. Continuing his life long love for all things Ottawa. 

At 5’10 220 pounds, he is the perfect fit at linebacker in the wide open game of the CFL. Having redshirt in his first year he would go on to play in 30 games over the next four seasons. At first he is simply a role player and special teams contributor, but by 2021 he finally got his chance to start. 

During the 2021 season in just 6 games he collected 36.5 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks. Averaging 6 tackles a game just shows he has the speed, and agility to flow sideline to sideline as well. If we had any doubts, in 2022 he took it to another level averaging 7.3 tackles per game. He had 3 tackles for a loss, adding 2 forced fumbles. At the recent CFL Combine he put up a 4.72 40 yard dash, 14 reps in the bench press, and a 7.22 3-cone drill. He was also coached by USFL defensive coordinator Brad Miller. Miller serves as the special teams coordinator, and linebackers coach for the Ottawa Gee Gees.

With the Seventeenth overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Daniel Oladejo, Receiver, Ottawa Gee Gees. 

The Redblacks finally bring in a weapon for Masoli. He is an intriguing player as a smaller wideout that is built like a running back. At 5’10 192 pounds, he managed 20 reps in the bench press, but he doesn’t have the breakaway speed that you would like to see in receiver. 

Oladejo is a guy who is very interesting to try and project on this roster. His production during college wasn’t show stopping by any stretch. However sometimes the coaching you receive matters. His head coach Marcel Bellefeuille is not only a former CFL head coach, he also is a long time wide receivers coach. Including currently for the Philadelphia Stars. 

Ironically this also means that by six degrees of separation Oladejo has connections to his future starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli played under current Philadelphia Stars Bart Andrus who was his offensive coordinator with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks. Masoli also played with the Nighthawks as a rookie. These small connections matter, and it wouldn’t shock me if Masoli had some input on this selection. It’s no secret the Gee Gees also have an established relationship with the Redblacks as well. 

In round three again the Redblacks found themselves holding multiple selections. This time it was #19, and #25. Giving Ottawa plenty of ammunition to move the board, or add veteran talent should they choose. 

With the nineteenth overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Aidan John, DE/LB, Saint Mary’s University.

Aidan John bounced around a lot in college. However he looks to be a perfect fit for the CFL game. Playing most of his collegiate career at 235 pounds, John would attend the regional invitational combine where he had a 35 inch vertical at 248 pounds. This displayed his explosion, and was another indicator beyond his limited sample size on the field that showed he could be a great pass rusher. 

The question is will he be given the time to prove he can excel at the CFL level. During college, he appeared in just 15 games collecting 75.5 tackles, 12 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble and 1 recovery. If he had been given the opportunity to play in more than 15 games would he have produced at the same rate? Hopefully we are given the opportunity to find out with the Redblacks. 

John has all the makings of a sleeper pick to eventually be the running mate to Lorenzo Mauldin who was unbelievable in his first year with Ottawa. Giving Mauldin someone to attract extra attention opposite of him could make this pass rush deadly. 

With the twenty fifth overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Josh White, LB, Regina.

The move to load up on defense is surprising. After all the losses at wideout I expected a receiver happy draft. With only four picks remaining perhaps we see more receivers selected later on. Josh White is a deserving selection here nonetheless. 

White has been a highly productive player in college producing many negative plays for opposing offenses. Playing in 31 games during college, he collected 150 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks. He looks to be a solid performer who could pay dividends as a pass rusher at times. One thing is for sure this defense is quickly restocking across the board having selected a defensive back, two linebackers, and one defensive end as well. So far none of these picks have been head scratchers. 

In round four, Ottawa held no picks at all, and waited through round four allowing them to sit back and evaluate how to close out the draft class. This time in the middle of an impossibly important draft, could prove crucial to their late round picks and which direction they go with their final four picks. 

With the thirty seventh overall selection in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Daniel Perry, WR, Saskatchewan. 

Daniel Perry another player who spent his collegiate career north of the US border. At 6’0 196 pounds, he put on a show running a 4.58 40-yard dash, managed a 7.02 3-cone drill, and had a 36.5 inch vertical leap. These are NFL worthy numbers, but it gets better from here. 

Perry could be an immediate contributor on special teams as well. He was named Canada West All-Star in 2022 after a career year. Collecting 57 receptions for 797 yards and 3 touchdowns. Averaging 66.4 yards per game, he also added 19 yards on the ground. 

His break out year came as a junior. Playing in ten games he caught 35 receptions for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns, or an average of over 18 yards per reception. Prior to his break out season on offense, most of his damage came on special teams with 45 returns for 423 yards and 1 punt return touchdown. Most of this production came his first two seasons, and his professional career could follow a very similar path. 

With the thirty seventh overall selection in the 2023 CFL Draft the Ottawa Redblacks select Quintin Seguin, DL, Charleston Southern. 

Quintin Seguin is a defensive lineman who stands 6’3 270 pounds. At the combine he managed 19 bench press reps, a 5.08 40-yard dash, and a 7.53 3-cone drill. This caught the eye of a few teams who see him as versatile lineman who could play inside or outside at the next level. 

He reminds me a lot of Davon Coleman, who seemed to be on the verge of leaving Ottawa this offseason before re-signing late. Quintin Sequin spent his final season of college as a graduate student at Charleston Southern where he managed 28 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 1 sack as a rotational piece on that defensive line. 

If you’re looking for durability and availability, Sequin is your man. Before moving on to Charleston Southern during his first three years at University of North Dakota, he appeared in every game. He would graduate with 39 appearances under his belt. Collecting 90 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and 5 sacks. This is a low risk high reward pick if he can continue to develop with Ottawa. 

With the 55th overall selection in the 2023 CFL Draft, the Ottawa Redblacks select Alexander Fedchun, DL, St. Francis Xavier. 

Fedchun might be the most intriguing player in this entire draft class. During his collegiate career he racked up 135 tackles, 17 sacks, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 2 interceptions and 7 pass break ups in 30 games. His ability to make impact plays is nearly unrivaled and he’s an exciting prospect. 

At 6’3 1/2 and only 226 pounds he ran a 4.89 40- yard dash, and put up 13 reps in the bench press. It will be interesting to see exactly how they approach Fedchun and his role at the next level. He’s flashed the ability to play a true linebacker position, but he’s listed as a defensive lineman, and seems to do his best work behind the line of scrimmage. 

Regardless it seems like Ottawa seems intent on improving this defensive front, and have invested heavily in defensive linemen in this draft class. Although, can any team have too many good pass rushers? 

With the 58th overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft, the Ottawa Redblacks select Amlicar Polk, RB, Ottawa Gee Gees.

Yet another player who came up from the Gee Gees pipeline.  Polk is a guy who can help the Redblacks in several facets. During college Polk managed to rack up 17 tackles on special teams, while adding 4 kick returns for 88 yards. This special teams acumen cannot be ignored when the team drafting employs a former special teams coordinator as the head coach. 

Polk also managed to make an impact on offense as well. Toting the rock for the Gee Gees a total of 71 times for 404 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He added 12 receptions for 162 yards and 1 touchdown. At the Invitational Combine, Polk led the event in the bench press with 25 reps of 225 pounds, ran a 4.68 40-yard dash, and a 7.3 3-cone drill. 

His strength at just 5’9 198 pounds is unexpected, and I feel like this has an effect on defenders at times. Typically a running back that stands 5’9 isn’t going to be a contact balance runner, but Polk is known for bouncing off tackles, or delivering devastating stuff arms.  He might be the player I am personally most excited about. The Redblacks needed more depth at running back, and tapping that Ottawa well with Polk is a great fit at this point in the draft. 

Thoughts, and Reactions

Overall I am extremely encouraged by this draft class. It appears the Redblacks were very realistic in their selections, not shooting for the moon, and drafting players that will never suit up for their franchise. In fact the reality is the Redblacks may get every one of their rookies to report this season based on the way they drafted. This would be huge for a team that needs an infusion of young talented players to help pull them out of the dungeon of the CFL where they have resided for four years now.

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@SamShadySports Reporter
I began writing years ago out of an obsession with the NFL. I never intended to take it anywhere but after watching so many others succeed as freelance writers I decided it was worth a shot. I jumped I and have loved every minute of it. I have expanded my content to include YouTube, as well as Twitter Spaces, SoundCloud, and should be launching on Amazon Podcasts soon.
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