In a stunning move, the 2019 Grey Cup runners-up Hamilton Tiger-Cats deviated from what most of the pundits had predicted and took Boston College TE Jake Burt with the first overall pick of the 2021 CFL draft.
“From the moment I was eligible, I’ve kind of just been on a downhill rollercoaster going full speed,” Burt said afterwards.
He was undoubtedly the highlight of the 2021 draft, and not just because he was a surprise or that he was the No. 1 pick, but because he is such an interesting story.
Burt was born in Regina, but his family moved to the US when he was only four years old. Boston became home and consequently, he ended up playing college football at Boston College. Upon graduation, he signed as a free agent with the NFL’s New England Patriots and spent the 2020 season on their practice roster.
He was a late addition to the CFL’s eligible player list and apparently that’s when he caught the Tiger-Cats’ attention.
After their shock No. 1 pick, Hamilton added mostly defensive guys later in the draft, including LB Nick Cross, Jarek Richards and Myles Manalo, as well as DB Deane Leonard.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders had the second pick of the night and went with DB Nelson Lokombo. For the most part, though, the Riders beefed up their offensive stocks by going with R Terrell Jana, TE Bruno Labelle and No. 18 prospect in the Spring Scouting Bureau rankings OL Logan Bandy.
Winnipeg picked third and drafted OL Liam Dobson. However, he and another Blue Bombers’ selection DB Patrice Rene, will both be continuing their college careers in the States in the immediate future. The 2019 Grey Cup champions made some other interesting picks highlighted by RB Kyle Borsa and DB Shae Weekes.
Leading up to Tuesday’s draft, it had been widely tipped that the Ti-Cats would use their first-round pick to get DE Daniel Joseph, who was No. 13 in the CFL’s Spring Scouting Bureau rankings. But with them throwing an immediate spoke in the wheels, Joseph ended up going to the BC Lions as their first selection and the fourth overall pick of the draft.
The Lions also drafted OL Alaric Jackson, but the big question is if and when either will actually play for them? Joseph has decided to keep playing college ball next season in the US, while Jackson was signed as a free agent by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
The Edmonton Football Team had the fifth pick in the draft and selected DL Cole Nelson. Edmonton used its other picks to draft a mix of both offensive and defensive talent including LB Grant McDonald, RB Deonte Glover, R Dominic Johnson, OL Peter Kourtis and DB Kenan Clarke.
Ottawa was the next cab off the rank and chose LB DeShawn Stevens with their first pick and the sixth overall.
“We really felt he was one of the top defensive players in the draft and somebody who could play a number of spots for us,” Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice told Postmedia.
Ottawa also picked up DB Alonzo Addae.
Toronto had the seventh pick of the first round and went with G Peter Nicastro. The Argos added to their OL by getting LT Sage Doxtater. And they got DB Benjamin St-Juste, although he was signed by the Washington Football Team in last week’s NFL draft, so they may not benefit from his services.
The Calgary Stampeders picked eighth in the first round and opted for LB Amen Ogbongbemiga. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Chargers of the NFL, so he too may not see any action in the CFL.
The Stamps also drafted OL Bryce Bell and LB Charlie Moore, plus RB Chuba Hubbard. However, Hubbard was scooped up by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the NFL draft, meaning he will be staying south of the border.
Finally, Montreal didn’t feature in the draft until the first pick of the second round and 10th overall and the Alouettes chose DL Pier-Olivier Lestage. He was the fourth Canadian who attracted interest from NFL teams and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks.
“We are extremely pleased to have been able to claim Pier-Olivier and that he was still available in the second round,” Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia told CFL.ca.
Further into the draft, the Als added to their roster with OL Chris Fournier and Patrick Davis. Montreal also drafted K David Cote and LB Ethan Makonzo.
In all, 54 guys were drafted on the night.