SPORTS

Redblacks take offensive lineman Mateas first overall in CFL draft

05/12/2015 08:30 EDT | Updated 05/12/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Alex Mateas began a historic run on offensive lineman Tuesday night at the CFL draft.

The six-foot-four, 309-pound UConn centre went No. 1 to his home-town Ottawa Redblacks, the first of a record three offensive linemen taken to open the draft. And when the first round ended, a total of six were off the board, another CFL record.

"This draft was packed with offensive linemen and good offensive linemen so it could've gone either way. It's a great honour to be No. 1 and to be drafted to my home city, you couldn't ask for anything better.

"Canada develops some great football players and offensive lineman at that. To be labelled a Canadian offensive linemen is awesome."

Sixty-two players were drafted over seven rounds.

Last year, Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins dealt the first overall pick to Calgary for all-star offensive lineman Jon Gott. On Tuesday, Desjardins, looking to improve a club that posted a league-worst 2-16 record in its inaugural season, selected a player who made 29 starts over three seasons at UConn.

"When you take into account Alex's abilities on the field, his durability, the level of competition that he played against as well as his integrity and intelligence, the selection of Alex was an easy decision," Desjardins said. "Add the fact that Ottawa is home and this is where he wants to be makes this the perfect selection."

Mateas began his college career at Penn State in 2010 before transferring to UConn. Mateas recently attended the New York Jets rookie mini-camp as a free agent but didn't sign an NFL contract.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers took Calgary offensive lineman Sukh Chungh second overall. The six-foot-four, 300-pound native of Coquitlam, B.C., was a CIS All-Canadian in 2013-'14 but impressed many with his aggressive play.

"He brings a physical presence and won't be intimidated," Bombers GM Kyle Walters said. "We want him to come here and compete."

The Toronto Argonauts selected Calgary centre Sean McEwen at No. 3. But the two-time All-Canadian is also pondering a return to school this fall to get a math degree.

"That's something I have to sit down with my family and discuss," McEwen said. "I haven't spoken to (Argos GM Jim Barker) yet but I look forward to and it's something I hope to hear his opinion on."

This isn't anything new for the Argos. They waited a year for McMaster offensive lineman Matt Sewell when he decided to return to school after being a 2013 first-round pick.

"If we have to wait a year, then we wait a year," Barker said. "It's his choice."

The Edmonton Eskimos continued the run on offensive linemen at No. 7 taking six-foot-six, 325-pound Danny Groulx of Laval. The 25-year-old native of Gatineau, Que., won two Vanier Cups with the Rouge et Or and the CFL scouting bureau ranked him fifth on its top-20 prospects list.

Montreal took Richmond tackle Jacob Ruby at No. 8. The six-foot-seven, 315-pound native of London, Ont., was a four-year college starter and performed well at the CFL combine in March.

Montreal landed Hamilton's first- (No. 8) and third-round picks (No. 24) by sending offensive lineman Ryan Bomben, a native of Burlington, Ont., to the Ticats before the draft.

Calgary ended the first round selecting Laval's Karl Lavoie at No. 9. The six-foot-four, 285-pound Lavoie was a two-time all-Canadian and is best friends with Stampeders centre Pierre Lavertu, a former Laval player the club took first overall last year.

Montreal raised eyebrows at No. 4, taking Wilfrid Laurier defensive back Chris Ackie. The athletic Ackie can play both in the secondary and at linebacker but was ranked No. 11 by the CFL scouting bureau.

The B.C. Lions selected Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, an athletic defensive lineman from Wilfrid Laurier capable of contributing immediately on special teams.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders followed by taking Manitoba Bisons receiver Nic Demski. The six-foot, 215-pound dynamo was a four-time CIS all-star who offers big-play ability offensively and on special teams.

Western defensive lineman Daryl Waud, projected as a first-round pick this off-season, went in the second round, 12th overall, by Toronto.

Hamilton made its first selection in the second round, taking Montreal linebacker Byron Archambeault at No. 17. Archambeault helped the Carabins win the Vanier Cup and recorded 47 reps in the bench press at the CFL combine.

Brandon Bridge, a native of Mississauga, Ont., bypassed in the NFL draft, went in the fourth round to Montreal. The six-foot-four, 229-pound quarterback threw for 1,927 yards with 15 TDs and eight interceptions last season for the South Alabama Jaguars.

B.C. and Calgary both made interesting future picks. The Lions took UNLV offensive lineman Brett Boyko and Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington in the second and fifth rounds, respectively, while the Stampeders selected Yale running back Tyler Varga in the third round.

Covington was the top-ranked draft prospect, one spot ahead of Boyko and two in front of Varga. But all three have signed with NFL teams — Houston, Philadelphia and Indianapolis, respectively —creating uncertainty regarding when, or if, they'll ever play in Canada.

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