Random Tidbits on CFL & NFL drafts

♦ The name of Johnny Augustine appeared on everyone’s list to players who most impressed at the CFL’s National Combine. The two mock drafts I’ve seen recently have him going in the 2nd Round of Sunday’s draft.  John Hodge of 3-Down Nation blog has the Saskatchewan Roughriders drafting him with the 11th pick.

Augustine was one of the biggest risers at the combine, testing well in the drills and dominating in the pass protection one-on-ones. His versatility as a ball carrier and receiver make him a prime target for a Rider team that is expected to start a Canadian running back in 2017.

Meanwhile, Marshall Ferguson thinks he could be going to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the 15th selection.

If Andrew Harris goes down in a game where you have to protect your new starting quarterback Matt Nichols, why not employ the services of a running back who looks as chiseled as a roman statue and owns a black belt in karate? Johnny Augustine can do it all, including an increased ability to run routes which would fit Harris’ usage patterns in Paul Lapolice’s Winnipeg offence.

Ferguson didn’t have Augustine’s name in the first three rounds of version 1.0 of his 2017 Mock CFL Draft. Give Justin Dunk some credit, he had Augustine as one of the next best players outside the Top 20 CFL prospects even before the combine process began.

I don’t think anyone connected to the Guelph program is really surprised with Augustine’s rise up the draft board. He was always a stud athlete with an incredible work ethic and is a genuinely friendly person. It is a shame that his senior season started with an injury in the 1st Quarter of the first game. Johnny didn’t have a chance to rack up the numbers that would have attracted more attention earlier. In spite of missing most of three games and then playing on an ankle that was less than 100% Augustine still rushed for 637 yards and caught 8 passes for 57 yards.

♦ Which other Gryphons may be drafted?

I think there is a very good chance we’ll hear the name of Jacob Scarfone called. A back-up receiver and special forces stud his first two seasons in Guelph, Scarfone exploded in 2015. First, he went viral with his one-handed back-flip catch after a summer workout session. Then, he earned 1st Team OUA and 2nd Team All-Canadian honours with 57 catches for 940 and 10 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Scarfone missed the entire 2016 season after injuring his knee last May.

Scarfone was invited to the CFL’s Toronto Combine but he did not participate in any drills other than the Bench Press where he put up a very respectable 19 reps. When I talked to Scarfone back on April 12 at FoGF’s London Reception he had just received a full medical clearance to participate in all football activities.

At that time, Scarfone told me he was relying on his agent to stir up interest among CFL teams. That seems to have worked. As I understand it, his agent lined up some workouts with CFL teams in recent weeks and they went very well. I think his breakout 2015 season and his recently demonstrated recovery will be enough for some team to select him. Here are his 2015 highlights …

♦ I haven’t seen 2013 Rookie of the Year Ian Marouf in several years but unless he is out of shape, which I doubt, and if I’m a CFL general manager, there is no way he goes undrafted. He had the physical size, athleticism and skills to deserve a CFL opportunity. I never understood why his CFL draft clock did not start when he entered a U.S. junior college back in 2011. He was in his third year of college eligibility when he arrived at Guelph but that was Year 1 for the CFL. It makes no sense.

♦ A couple other Guelph D-linemen, or potentially linebackers – Derek Drouillard and Matt Delmas – are considered long-shots prospects for the draft. Drouillard has already been selected a captain for the 2017 edition of the Gryphons. Delmas has done everything necessary to be eligible to return to the Gryphons if he wants to, based on what DC Adam Grandy said at one of the FoGF receptions.

♦ Check out the Souncloud link in this tweet …

♦  When Duane Forde (TSN) and Marshall Ferguson (CFL.ca) talk about the burning questions of this draft the answers begin in Winnipeg …

With the first and sixth picks, Kyle Walters holds the keys to the first round of the CFL Draft. He’ll have a plethora of options including trading the pick, selecting the best player available or picking someone who is guaranteed to be present in camp next month.

Should Walters keep the pick, which is the expected outcome at this point in time, two major candidates to go first overall are Iowa defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie and Manitoba offensive lineman Geoff Gray.

♦ The latest from Arash Madani at Sportsnet.ca – Blue Bombers negotiating with Ekakitie; plan to take him No. 1 in draft

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have started contract negotiations with University of Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie and, barring a trade, will take the 24-year-old with the No. 1 overall pick in Sunday’s CFL draft.

Sources told Sportsnet that Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters has already begun talks with Ray Haija, Ekakitie’s agent, on an entry-level deal to avoid any issues after the draft.

nfl-logo

Down south, Sports Illustrated gave Thomas Dimitroff’s Atlanta Falcons a B grade in the recent NFL Draft.

The Falcons traded up in Round 1 to nab edge defender Takk McKinley, shipping picks 31, 95 and 249 to Seattle for the 26th spot. They then traded down later to recoup some capital, sending No. 63 to Buffalo for Nos. 75, 149 and 156. McKinley, obviously, is the headliner—he’s working back from shoulder surgery, but his upside opposite Vic Beasley in that front seven intrigued the Falcons enough to make that move for him.

Atlanta then added three quality prospects with the picks from Buffalo: LB Duke Riley, CB Damontae Kazee and RB Brian Hill. Both Riley and Kazee are athletic playmakers; none of those guys has a clear path to playing time in 2017. Round 4 guard Sean Harlow should compete to take over the starting job left vacant by Chris Chester’s retirement.

Falcons logoFalcons fans gave it a B+ grade. SB Nation and USA Today gave it a B- grade and NFL.com rated it an A-.

I don’t believe Atlanta was working with a full complement of draft picks because they had traded away picks in previous years. Under those circumstances a B average seems pretty good to me.

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