Ottawa Redblacks select OL Dontae Bull first overall in CFL draft

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TORONTO — Shawn Burke made a huge splash to open the CFL draft Tuesday night.

The Ottawa Redblacks GM selected offensive lineman Dontae Bull with the first pick. The hulking six-foot-seven, 320-pound Victoria native started seven games at right tackle for Fresno State in 2022 before sustaining a season-ending broken leg Oct. 29.

Bull said he's been extremely pleased with his recovery and expects to hit the field with Ottawa during training camp.

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"Leg is feeling good," he said during a virtual CFL availability. "I've recovered well and will be ready to roll during camp so I'm excited I've made this recovery."

Bull started 33-of-37 games at Fresno State and will look to help an Ottawa offence that finished second-last in rushing last year (85.4 yards per game). The Redblacks (4-14) were fourth in the East Division last year, missing the CFL playoffs for a third straight season.

Bull has no preference what side of the ball he lines up on but feels better suited playing tackle than guard. And his goal is to start right away for Ottawa.

"I will do everything in my power to be in a position to help impact the team as much as I can," he said. "In the run game I'm a mauler … I move bodies and put people on the ground.

"In the pass game, I've got good feet and great length off the edge to expand that pocket's width."

Bull was the first of four picks Ottawa had in the first 17 selections. In the second round, Burke took Mount Allison defensive back Lucas Cormier (No. 10) then stayed local with Ottawa linebacker James Peter (No. 12) and Gee-Gees receiver Daniel Oladejo (No. 17).

The Edmonton Elks, selecting second, took Montreal Carabins linebacker Michael Brodrique, a native of Saint-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que. The six-foot-three, 230-pound Brodrique had 32 tackles (4.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks and an interception in seven games last year and was the top U Sports player in the CFL scouting bureau's top-20 draft list at No. 11.

Brodrique was watching the draft telecast when he heard his named called and admitted to being surprised initially.

"But it was a great surprise," he said. "I'm really excited to join the Elks family and excited to start camp.

"I think I'm a versatile player, well-rounded. I'm a physical guy, I can run down the field. I'm ready to play special teams and ready to roll as soon as I can."

The Saskatchewan Roughriders then chose UBC defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore. The six-foot-five, 262-pound Ottawa native registered 48 tackles (26 solo, 12.5 for loss), six sacks and a forced fumble in 10 games last season when he was a Canada West all-star.

Like Brodrique, Korte-Moore was taken aback upon learning he'd been drafted by Saskatchewan.

"I hadn't talked to Saskatchewan in a little bit," he said. "It was a great surprise and I'm very excited about it.

"It's been a dream of mine since I was a kid to get drafted and I can't believe it's happened. Now I can't wait to get to work."

Korte-Moore is prepared to play whatever role Saskatchewan wants him to.

"I'm willing to work my butt off to be the best version I can and develop and work with the coaches we have," he said. "Hopefully I get a lot of sacks this year and am able to get to the quarterback with the great D-line we have."

With the fourth selection, the Calgary Stampeders grabbed Northern Illinois receiver Cole Tucker. The six-foot-one, 193-pound Tucker was born in the U.S. but is deemed a Canadian as his mother is from Brandon, Man.

Tucker had 155 catches for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns over five seasons with the Huskies.

The Montreal Alouettes, with the first of two opening-round picks, took Penn State defensive back Jonathan Sutherland, a surprise given he signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. Sutherland, of Ottawa, was a four-year captain with the Nittany Lions and had 137 tackles, eight sacks, an interception and forced fumble in 58 games.

Three of the record five Canadians taken in the '23 NFL draft were selected Tuesday. Saskatchewan took offensive lineman Sidy Sow, of Bromont, Que. (fourth round, New England) in the sixth round and defensive lineman Tavius Robinson, of Guelph, Ont. (fourth round, Baltimore) in the eighth. Montreal selected running back Chase Brown, of London, Ont. (fifth round, Cincinnati) in the seventh.

At No. 6, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took Saskatchewan offensive lineman Dayton Black, a six-foot-five, 295-pound Brandon, Man. native. Black, a converted quarterback, was a Canada West all-star last season.

Montreal followed with Edmonton's Lwal Uguak, a six-foot-five, 271-pound TCU defensive lineman. He played in 14 of the school's 15 games, recording 10 tackles as the Horned Frogs defeated Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl before losing 65-7 to Georgia in the NCAA championship game.

With the eighth selection, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers picked Regina defensive lineman Anthony Bennet. The six-foot-three, 230-pound Bennett was a '22 Canada West all-star and first-team all-Canadian after registering a team-record eight sacks and tying the school mark for tackles for a loss (10.5).

Bennett's father, Charles, uncle, Tony, and cousin, Michael, are all former NFL players. His older brother, Andrew, played at Regina before signing with Montreal.

The B.C. Lions completed the opening round by selecting Southern Utah defensive lineman Francis Bemiy. The six-foot-three, 257-pound Montreal native — who was expected to go higher — played defensive end and tackle in college, registering 163 tackles (38.5 for loss), 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 49 career games.

The Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts looked to the future with their first selection, taking Pittsburgh receiver Jared Wayne in the second round (16th overall). The six-foot-three, 210-pound Wayne had 60 catches for 1,062 yards and five TDs last season but Saturday reportedly received a $US210,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent from the NFL's Houston Texans.

Saskatchewan kept it in the family with the second pick of the second round, taking Regina defensive back Jaxon Ford. His grandfather, Alan, was a punter-receiver with the Riders and later served as the club's GM.

Three picks later, B.C. took another stalwart defensive player in Guelph defensive back Siriman Harrison Bagayogo. The six-foot-three, 195-pound Harrison Bagayogo, of Bois-des-Filion, Que., earned all-Canadian honours the last two seasons.

Guelph receiver Clark Barnes went in the third round, No. 24 overall, to Calgary. A high ankle sprain limited the six-foot-two, 193-pound Brampton, Ont., native to just four games (nine catches, 58 yards) last year after recording 29 receptions for 406 yards and five touchdowns in five contests in '21.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press