TORONTO — As expected, Tyrell Richards was the first pick in the 2022 CFL Draft. The Syracuse linebacker’s destination ended up being a surprise on draft day.
A trade on the morning of the draft saw the Montreal Alouettes move from fourth to first, trading places with the Edmonton Elks, to take Richards to first. The pick trade cost the Alouettes the rights to offensive lineman Carter O’Donnell of Red Deer, Alta. native who played U SPORTS football at the University of Alberta. O’Donnell has been with the Indianapolis Colts for the past two seasons.
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Richards being the most discussed possibility as the first overall pick, the draft strayed away from what was suspected for much of the first round. The Ottawa REDBLACKS stayed home with the second overall pick, taking Ottawa GeeGees lineman Zack Pelehos.
“Zack’s progression was evident through the combine and what he brought to his program,” REDBLACKS general manager Shawn Burke said in a team statement.
“He’s mean, he’s going to be physical and he brings the kind of football we want to play.”
The BC Lions picked up Saskatchewan Huskies DL Nathan Cherry with the third overall pick, earning a 2021 First-Team All-Canadian to add depth to their defensive line. Cherry was ranked 20th in the spring CFL Scouting Bureau.
After moving up to fourth, Elks general manager Chris Jones opted for defensive back Enock Makonzo of Coastal Carolina. Makonzo had 71 tackles and 10 for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered a fumble while allowing just 108 passing yards on 30 targets, the Elks website reported.
Two names fans expected to hear in the first round found their CFL home in the second half of the first round. The Calgary Stampeders took receiver Jalen Philpot fifth overall, keeping U of C Dino in the same building for the foreseeable future.
Philpot played 22 games over three seasons (2018-19, 2021) at the University of Calgary. He recorded 113 receptions for 1,889 yards and 10 touchdowns during his career with the Dinos. He was a Canada West All-Star in 2019 and 2021 and was twice named to the First Team All-Canadians.
Philpot was part of a Vanier Cup winning team in 2019 and competed in the College Gridiron Showcase after his senior season.
With the sixth pick, the Toronto Argonauts stayed true to form with their first-round pick, knocking out six-foot-three, 322-pound offensive lineman Gregor MacKellor from St. Francis Xavier University. The Argos have taken o linemen four times in the past five years.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders made a good move with the seventh overall pick, taking Samuel Emilus. The Louisiana Tech receiver had 17 catches for 247 yards with three touchdowns last year with the Bulldogs. He was more impactful with UMass, he had 653 yards on 59 catches, with seven touchdowns in 22 games in three seasons with the Minutemen.
“At UMass, he was the air strike,” TSN’s Duane Forde said of Emilius.
After losing national receiver Brayden Lenius to the Atlanta Falcons this winter, the Riders have added depth to their Canadian receiving corps. Marshall Ferguson, taking a break from his job at CFL.ca to sit on the TSN panel, praised his catch radius. That could add more playability to the Riders offensive offense this season.
After earning the eighth overall pick via a Monday night trade to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Elks used their second first pick on quarterback Tre Ford. The selection marked the first time a quarterback has been chosen in the first round since 1980.
Ferguson wondered if Ford could help the Elks with his speed and if Jones and Elks offensive coordinator Steve McAdoo could use him the same way they used backup QB Jordan Lynch in the first round of Jones in Edmonton in 2014 and 2015.
The first round ended with the second Philpot, Tyson, chosen by the Alouettes. When told by TSN panel host Farhan Lalji that the Alouettes would open the season on the road in Calgary on June 9, the Alouettes newcomer smiled.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready to work because I’ll be ready to work,” Tyson said.