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It was difficult to predict precisely how our draft would pan out. After using the team’s first-round spot to pick up o-lineman Tyler Johnstone in the 2018 supplemental draft, General Manager Kavis Reed and his staff had an intricate puzzle to assemble last week.
“The ideal scenario was to take a top receiver and two offensive linemen as well as address the defensive line. We came in knowing that we needed three guys who could be ready to play,” Reed said after the job was done.
While eligibility years can be a factor to ensure the roster is not over saturated with national players, the priority was immediate ability to suit up and help out. The first three players to receive calls from Reed last night – Kaion Julien-Grant, Nate Anderson and Samuel Thomassin – have shown the potential to play at a high level sooner than later.
“Three receivers – McInnis, Julien-Grant and Osei-Kusi – were all in a bunch for us,” Reed explains. “We didn’t feel that McInnis would be available in the mid-second round, but to be able to grab both Julien-Grant and Osei-Kusi was a real math game. We feel very strong about that.”
The greatest depth and talent of the 2019 Draft Class was without a doubt at the wide receiver position and St-Francis Xavier alum Kaion Julien-Grant was certainly part of the top prospects list. The receiver should be somewhat familiar with his new environment; after following his father’s footsteps to attend the Nova Scotian University, he will be joining the team his patriarch, Karim Grant, played for in 2004.
Not only did our Als get their hands on coveted receiver Julien-Grant, they were able to acquire one of the most impressive prospects of this year’s combine, Chris Osei-Kusi, in the fourth round. The Queen’s athlete balled out in Toronto last month, recording the fastest 40-yard dash time and the most bench press reps of all receivers.
Now circling back to the three initial priorities:
– Top receiver who is ready to play: check
– D-lineman who is ready to play: Nate Anderson
– O-lineman who is ready to play: Samuel Thomassin
The second man to see a 514 number on his phone was Mizzou Football’s versatile defensive tackle Nate Anderson. A strategic pick that could very well be the backup for both DT Fabion Foote and DE Bo Banner.
“The necessity was a guy who can play on the inside and the outside. We had to make certain to protect ourselves at the defensive tackle and defensive end positions and we needed someone who would be ready to be on the roster right away.”
With the Rouge et Or’s Mathieu Betts being off the board, Anderson, who has experience going up against imposing o-linemen of the highest ranked NCAA conference, appeared as the most disruptive element to the passing game.
After filling the starting receiver and defensive line spots, the team shifted its focus to adding depth on the o-line. KC Bakker, drafted in 2018, was projected to come in this season and be able to contribute. The plan was to have him go back to school for a year and come back and fill in, just like Zach Annen did. As it turns out, Bakker got injured and the need for an offensive lineman prepared to play became more and more pressing. The good news is that two players selected could be ready as early as this spring, local product Samuel Thomassin being the first and Northern Colorado Bears Zach Wilkinson being the second.
“We’re very happy to have been able to draft Thomassin as our territorial exemption,” says Reed who is looking into recruiting additional local Québec talents in the post-draft period. We were fortunate enough to get two guys who are ready in addition to Tyler Johnstone. “If you look at it, we really acquired three o-lines in this draft. You tend to see a run with the bigger guys in the first round and that’s why we made sure to get our hands on Johnstone last year. The depth on the o-line is now secured for a number of years.”
Concordia defensive lineman Michael Sanelli, Calgary Dinos running back Jeshrun Antwi, Saskatchewan Huskies Benjamin Whiting and Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive back Cody Cranston will also get an opportunity to show off their skills come training camp. There is no doubt that the 2018 Draft class was one that had and still has the potential to help the team greatly. Guys like Jean-Gabriel Poulin, Trey Rutherford, Ryder Stone or Bo Banner came in last year prepared to support the squad whenever needed. Will the 2019 crew live up to its predecessor? You’ll have to be there to see it with your own eyes.