TORONTO — Linebacker Tyrell Richards was the first player taken in the CFL draft Tuesday night.
The Montreal Alouettes selected the former Syracuse Orange star with the first overall selection.
Montreal secured the No. 1 pick earlier Tuesday in a trade with Edmonton. The Elks received the rights to Canadian offensive lineman Carter O'Donnell — a native of Red Deer, Alta., currently with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts — and the fourth overall selection.
Earlier on Tuesday, Montreal secured the ninth and 18th selections from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for Canadian defensive tackle Cameron Lawson and the 13th overall pick. The six-foot-three, 285-pound Lawson, of Caledon, Ont., appeared in four games last year with the Alouettes.
The six-foot-three 232-pound Richards had a career-high 24 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and two sacks in eight games (three starts) for Syracuse University in 2020. The Brampton, Ont., resident entered the transfer portal afterwards and entertained several offers but couldn’t move to another school because he’d not accumulated enough transferable credits.
Richards considered attending a junior college before deciding to spend 2021 training and coaching at Clarkson Secondary School, his former high school in Mississauga, Ont. Richards had 54 tackles (9.5 for a loss) and six sacks in 31 career games at Syracuse.
Richards attended the CFL combine in March and performed well, posting a 37-inch vertical jump, 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press and running the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds. He also impressed with his versatility, testing with defensive lineman and working out with defensive backs while meeting and speaking with officials from all nine Canadian teams.
The Ottawa Redblacks took Zach Pelehos, an offensive lineman from the University of Ottawa, second overall. The six-foot-five, 296-pound native of Gananoque, Ont., was an OUA first-team all-star last season and tested well at the CFL combine in March, posting the top 40-yard dash time among offensive linemen.
At No. 3, the B.C. Lions looked to Saskatchewan defensive lineman Nathan Cherry. The six-foot-three, 245-pound Saskatoon native had 24 tackles (15 solo, eight for loss) and six sacks last season.
Edmonton followed by taking Coastal Carolina linebacker/defensive back Henoc Makonzo. The five-foot-11, 195-pound Lachine, Que., native had 71 tackles and three forced fumbles last season, earning All-Sun Belt honourable mention.
The Calgary Stampeders stayed local at No., drafting Dinos receiver Jaylen Philpot. The five-foot-11, 193-pound native of Delta, B.C., whose father, Cory, was a former CFL running back, registered 43 catches for 799 yards and three touchdowns in six games, earning first team All-Canadian honours for a second straight year.
The Toronto Argonauts, whose Canadian depth is regarded at or near the top of the CFL, shored up their offensive line with St. Francis Xavier's Gregor MacKellar. The six-foot-five, 311-pound native of Timberlea, N.S., began his college career at Rice and is expected to bring a mean streak into the CFL.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders drafted Louisiana Tech receiver Samuel Emilus, a six-foot-one, 198-pound Montreal native. He had 17 catches for 257 yards and three TDs last season and has accepted a mini-camp offer from the Arizona Cardinals.
The Elks used their second opening-round pick on Waterloo Warriors quarterback Tre Ford. The Hec Crighton Trophy winner from Niagara Falls, Ont., had 1,465 passing yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 667 yards and three TDS over six games.
Montreal rounded out the first round by taking Calgary receiver Tyson Philpot, Jaylen's twin brother. The five-foot-11, 189-pound Tyson Philpot had 41 catches for 746 yards and nine touchdowns last season and was named a first-team All-Canadian and Canada West's outstanding player.
Coincidentally, Montreal kicks off the regular season visiting Calgary on June 9.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2022.
The Canadian Press