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April 13, 2017

April Scouting Bureau Ranking

Daniel Vandervoort WR (McMaster) during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Justin Senior topped the list last September.

He was still first in December.

And when the Canadian Football League’s Scouting Bureau released its final 2017 draft rankings on Thursday, the Mississippi State offensive lineman remained at No. 1.

Now comes the interesting part as it relates to next month’s CFL Draft and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who hold the first overall selection: Senior very likely won’t be the first name uttered by GM Kyle Walters.

Or with the second pick. Or third. Or…

Senior, a 6-5, 331-pound Montreal product, has been a Mississippi State starter for three years at right tackle and is drawing considerable interest from the National Football League.

So too, is UCLA defensive tackle Eli Ankou, who is ranked second by the CFL Scouting Bureau, and University of Manitoba guard Geoff Gray, ranked third.

And that complicates things for not only the Bombers, but all teams picking behind them in Round 1 and deeper.

Daniel Vandervoort WR (McMaster) during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Daniel Vandervoort WR (McMaster) during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

The NFL Draft goes April 27-29 with the CFL Draft following May 7th (6 p.m., CT).

Interestingly, the CFL held a media conference call on Thursday in conjunction with the release of the Scouting Bureau’s final rankings with none of the Top 3 players on the line.

Instead, the call featured McMaster receiver Danny Vandervoort – ranked fourth – along with Bethune-Cookman offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek (10th) and Guelph running back Johnny Augustine (17th).

Vandervoort used a solid performance at the CFL Combine in Regina last month to move up three spots in the final rankings. The biggest climbers were Iowa defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie (from 11th to 5th), Bladek (from 15th to 10th) and Calgary offensive lineman Braden Schram, now ranked 16th.

“It’s exciting to see my name in the Top 5,” said Vandervoort. “I’ve been working really hard for this and I think I impressed the scouts in Regina. We all – me, Dariusz and Johnny – all put hard work in and it shows.”

The Bombers not only hold the first overall selection, but the sixth, 15th and 23rd picks. Winnipeg traded its fourth and fifth-round choices and will then pick again in the 50th, 59th and 68th spots.

Johnny Augustine RB (Guelph) during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Johnny Augustine RB (Guelph) during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Walters isn’t about to reveal which player the club will take first overall, but did say after the combine the club isn’t interested in taking a ‘futures’ player – a prospect who might be drafted in the NFL or sign a free agent contract down south after the NFL Draft.

Not attending the CFL Combine clearly didn’t affect the rankings of Senior, Ankou, Gray and Ekakitie, but the growing NFL interest in Laval receiver Antony Auclair saw him fall from second to seventh.

Two defensive linemen who did attend the Combine also saw their rankings drop, as Montreal defensive tackle Junior Luke fell from ninth to 11th while Wilfrid Laurier end Kwaku Boateng is now ranked 12th after being ranked sixth in December.

Simon Fraser linebacker and Winnipeg product Jonathan Herdman, meanwhile, dropped out of the Top 20 after being ranked 16th in December.

Augustine really opened eyes at the Combine and moved up to 17th from not previously being ranked by showing his speed and skill as a tailback, but also flashing an ability to handle blocking chores.

“I would say it’s the versatility I brought to the combine,” said Augustine. “I didn’t show just one thing. I can block and also (showed)  my pass-catching as well. You have to be able to do a lot of things in a lot of areas and I made sure to cross all those checkmarks.”

Bladek’s story is an interesting one: He was born and raised in Florida and hadn’t even been to Canada until attending last month’s Combine in Regina. First spied at Bethune-Cookman by the Calgary Stampeders, Bladek mentioned that his mother had been born in Canada and was told that would make him eligible for dual-citizenship.

He opted to forego his senior season at Bethune-Cookman and declare for the NFL Draft. He went undrafted and then began exploring the dual-citizenship idea, but the process took too long for him to be eligible for the 2016 CFL Draft or the supplemental draft later in the spring.

That means he’s been idle for a long time.

“The process was long, stressful and heart-aching, especially in the beginning when I thought I could make it for the supplemental draft,” said Bladek. “I didn’t expect to have to wait the whole year. It’s always risky being out of football that long and, for me, it was a risk that was unknown.

“But I trusted my gut, I trusted the people that advised me. It’s been a long year and I’ve worked very hard for it. And in doing so I’ve been blessed and honoured to be selected for the National Combine.

“My first experience to Canada was amazing.”

Dariusz Bladek OL during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Dariusz Bladek OL during the 2017 CFL combine in Regina, SK., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

 

April Scouting Bureau Ranking
Rank Name Position School Hometown
1 (1) Justin Senior OL Mississippi State Montreal, QC
2 (3) Eli Ankou DL UCLA Ottawa, ON
3 (5) Geoff Gray OL Manitoba Winnipeg, MB
4 (7) Danny Vandervoort REC McMaster Barrie, ON
5 (11) Faith Ekakitie DL Iowa Brampton, ON
6 (8) Christophe Mulumba LB Maine Laval, QC
7 (2) Antony Auclair TE Laval Notre-Dame-des-Pins, QC
8 (10) Mason Woods OL Idaho Port Coquitlam, BC
9 (12) Nathaniel Behar REC Carleton London, ON
10 (15) Dariusz Bladek OL Bethune-Cookman Kissimmee, FL
11 (9) Junior Luke DL Montreal Montreal, QC
12 (6) Kwaku Boateng DL Laurier Milton, ON
13 (13) Qadr Spooner OL McGill Brossard, QC
14 (17) Robert Woodson LB Calgary Calgary, AB
15 (19) Kay Okafor DL St. FX Enugu, Nigeria
16 (-) Braden Schram OL Calgary Manning, AB
17 (-) Johnny Augustine RB Guelph Welland, ON
18 (-) Fabion Foote DL McMaster North York, ON
19 (-) Dondre Wright DB Henderson State Ajax, ON
20 (-) Connor McGough DL Calgary Medicine Hat, AB