Montréal Alouettes 2016 CFL Draft Review

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The Montréal Alouettes needed to have a productive draft both for their present and their future. Depleting Canadian talent effects all teams but particularly the Alouettes in 2016 having lost notables Henoc Muamba and Eric Deslauriers toward the end of last season and in the offseason respectively. This is the Montréal Alouettes 2016 CFL draft review.

The Alouettes made the following picks in the draft:

1st Round, 2nd overall – OL Phillipe Gagnon (Laval)

2nd Round, 11th overall – RB Wayne Moore (McMaster)

3rd Round, 20th overall – OL Sean Jamieson (Western)

4th Round, 29th overall – WR George Johnson (Western)

5th Round – No pick

6th Round, 47th overall – WR A’dre Fraser (Guelph)

6th Round, 50th overall – WR Emmitt Tims (Saskatchewan)

7th Round, 56th overall – DB Maiko Zepeda (Montréal)

8th Round, 64th overall – OL Matthew Toppan (Guelph)

Montréal Alouettes 2016 CFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Phillipe Gagnon

Alouettes general manager Jim Popp has a clear agenda that rarely differs from year-to-year under his leadership — draft national offensive linemen. He did just that in selecting Phillipe Gagnon from the Laval Rouge et Or. Gagnon impressed at the national combine putting up the most reps on the bench press. According to scouts he’s got great footwork as well. He will be deployed as a current backup and future replacement for, another former Laval lineman, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain.

The Head-Scratcher: Wayne Moore

The selection of Wayne Moore sent analysts scrambling for information about the running back from McMaster on Tuesday night. Why Popp felt he needed to spend the 11th overall pick on Moore truly is a head-scratcher. So does Popp have plans to acquire an established national running back like Jerome Messam or Andrew Harris at some point this season? Logic would say those two are staying put. The current depth chart shows two outstanding international personnel in Tyrell Sutton and Brandon Rutley. Both of whom saw action last year, with Sutton winning the yards race in the rushing category. They say being a CFL GM is one of the toughest jobs in pro sports. Trying to figure out what they are thinking is decidedly harder.

The Surprise: George Johnson

The Alouettes took receiver George Johnson in the fourth round with the 29th pick overall. That was a big surprise considering all of Doug Corby, Llevi Noel, Shaquille Johnson, and Felix Faubert-Lussier were still on the board. Johnson isn’t without fans at the CFL’s scouting bureau where he ranked as high as the 20th best player available last November on the initial prospect list. He was not the best receiver available at 29th. He wasn’t even close. A surprising pick, to say the least, that we’ll have to keep our eyes on through training camp. It’s hard to see him having much impact this season.

The Steal: Maiko Zepeda

The Alouettes earned extreme value for the 56th overall pick in the University of Montréal’s defensive back. As a junior, Zepeda played a big role in the thrilling 20-19 Vanier Cup victory by the Carabins over the McMaster Marauders. If not for a last second field goal versus the UBC Thunderbirds, in what was supposed to be an offensive shootout, he and his defensive teammates could have earned the Carabins a second straight national collegiate championship. He will contribute immediately on special teams and could find his way into the secondary full-time eventually after pro-level coaching and instruction under Carabins head coach Danny Maciocia. That is a bit of a long shot however.

Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Sean Jamieson

Popp drafted another offensive lineman with his 20th overall pick. Not willing to risk the positional pick on Dillon Guy, the Alouettes general manager took a beast of a man in Sean Jamieson. Coaches can teach pass and run block technique. You can even improve a players footwork, but you can’t teach size. Jamieson who hails from Winnipeg and was a four year starter for the Western Mustangs is 6’7, 316 lbs. That fits the archetype for a starting CFL tackle and, even in a strong class of linemen, those types of bodies are rare. Jamieson’s performance at the CFL regional combine was enough to bump him significantly up the draft board and he’ll turn some heads in camp if for no other reason than his size. Another long shot as a future starter.

The Rest:

A’dre Fraser, Emmitt Tims, and Matthew Toppan will provide the Alouettes with much needed national depth, should they sign contracts and make the team out of training camp. Most likely special teams duties at the best and practice roster deals at the worst for these draftees. Fraser will be hard pressed to make the opening day 44-man roster, so a practice roster spot or release is imminent. Tims will either replace current long snapper Martin Bedard, which could happen given his versatility as a wide receiver and the selection of running back Moore, or he’ll be released. Toppan will likely make the practice roster as a longer term project lineman.

The Bottom Line:

The Alouettes broke the mold to a degree with their 2016 CFL draft. They used three picks on offensive lineman but that’s where the conventional picks ended and the risks based on positional need, rather than best player available, started. It wasn’t an overly safe draft for Popp’s Als but the gambles they took were calculated in order to maintain their ratio and make them better in 2016 and the years to come. The personable Gagnon should be a fan favourite in no time and keep your eyes on Zepeda on special teams. He has the speed and desire to lead the team in 2016 in tackles on punt and kickoff coverage.

Alouettes 2016 Draft Grade: 6/10

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