Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day thinks he achieved his goal in the CFL draft: to get some depth and bring new competition to camp.
“We are happy with that. After every draft, we’re happy with the guys we picked because we picked them,” O’Day said.
The Riders selected eight players during Tuesday’s draft: wide receiver Samuel Emilus (first round, seventh overall), offensive lineman Zack Fry (second round, 16th overall), offensive lineman Diego Alatorre Montoya (third round, 27 1st overall), linebacker Tommy Bringi (fourth round, 36th overall), defensive back Tristan Fleury (fifth round, 45th overall), defensive back Jayden Dalke (sixth round, 54th overall), defensive back Zach Herzog (seventh round, 63rd overall) and catcher Riley Boersma (eighth round, 72nd overall).
And O’Day hopes everyone will find ways to contribute to the team in 2022.
“We take everyone for a reason. We never pick a guy and say he’s not going to make our team or he’s going to be good for training camp,” O’Day said. “We don’t think that’s the right way to do it.”
For their first draft pick, the Riders selected Emilus, a wide receiver out of Louisiana Tech.
“We had him as our best player on the board outside of a couple of guys going to the NFL. We looked at our situation where we lost Brayden (Lenius) and with Terrell Jana getting ready to retire,” O’Day said.
“We like his toughness, we like his ability to come up for football, (he) runs well, (he) has good size, he’s tough, he’s physical, a lot of attributes that we like here in Saskatchewan.”
Emilus, who is from Montreal, joins Kian Schaffer-Baker, Jake Harty, Justin McInnis, Wesley Lewis and Mitch Picton as the national options for the Riders in the spot.
The Riders lost Lenius (who signed with the Atlanta Falcons) and Jana (who retired) last offseason.
Emilus played three seasons for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen and one with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
During his college career, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver played in 28 games over four seasons. He had 74 catches for 870 yards and 10 touchdowns.
For their final pick in the draft, the Riders selected Boersma, a local product from the University of Regina. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver caught 18 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in 2021.
“It was an advantage that it is local, but we like the boy. He is one of the fastest guys in the draft (and was) productive for two seasons in Regina,” assistant general manager Kyle Carson said. “Good treadmill, good character and we really liked his ability to run routes.
“We had Riley higher than where he was, so we were pleased to have him where we did.”
And there is an opportunity for Emilus and Boersma to come in and fight for a possible starting job.
“There is an open position there that was left when Lenius left and there will be competition there for that and the best one will win it. We played two Canadian receivers and last year, we dressed four of them with Jake Harty in mind, who played on a lot of special teams for us,” O’Day said.
Emilus is expected to attend minicamp with the Arizona Cardinals.
Saskatchewan also added even more national players to its offensive line group.
Fry was a member of the Western Mustangs team that won the Vanier Cup in 2021.
“He has very good feet. For a 6-6, 305-pounder, he’s got some really amazing feet. We feel like he has the best feet of any of the offensive linemen in the draft,” O’Day said of Fry.
They also recruited the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Montoya, who played college soccer at UBC but is originally from Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Mexico. Carson said there is a new rule that if a player from another country plays four seasons at a Canadian university, he is eligible for the Canadian draft and not the global draft.
“He is a Canada West All-Star, three-time All-Canadian Scholar and interviewed very, very well. He loves soccer and cares a lot about it. We are excited to have him and believe he has a bright future,” said Carson.
O’Day said positions along the offensive line are always a competition in camp.
“Can one of these guys get to be a sixth man or can they challenge one of the guys that we have? We’re going to have to wait and see training camp,” O’Day said.
The Riders also added several defensive players in the draft.
Bringi played in Wilfrid Laurier and the 6-foot-0, 220-pound linebacker led Laurier’s defense with 31 tackles and three interceptions in 2021. He also added three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
At McGill playing defensive back, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Fleury had 42 total tackles and an interception in 2021.
Dalke (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) played for the Alberta Golden Bears and contributed 37 tackles in 2021.
Herzog (5-foot-9, 192 pounds) had 47 tackles, a sack and an interception in 2021 for the Hillsdale Chargers.
“(These guys) brought some value to special teams, so they will challenge being on our special teams and be role players and depth players for us,” O’Day said.
Sask. talent heads elsewhere after CFL draft
University of Saskatchewan defensive lineman Nathan Cherry was Saskatchewan’s top pick. The Saskatoon product was selected third overall by the BC Lions.
Huskies offensive lineman Noah Zerr, a native of Langenburg, went to the Lions in the second round, 12th overall.
BC took Regina-born U of R linebacker Ryder Varga in the third round (29th overall), then nabbed U of S defensive lineman Riley Pickett of Saskatoon in the fifth round (41st overall). ).
The Calgary Stampeders selected Joel Braden of Regina, an offensive lineman from his hometown Rams, in the fifth round with the 43rd overall pick. The Montreal Alouettes selected Yorkton-born Alberta offensive lineman Peter Kozushka in the sixth round (51st overall).
Defensive back Eric Sutton, who was born in Regina while his father Eric was playing for the Roughriders, went to the Toronto Argonauts with the 53rd overall pick.