NEWS
04/26/2016 16:52 EDT | Updated 04/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Manitoba defensive tackle Onyemata moves atop CFL scouting bureau list

TORONTO — Josiah St. John could still go first overall in next month's CFL draft.

St. John dropped down to fifth on the final top-20 prospects list released Tuesday. But the four prospects ranked ahead of him by the CFL's scouting bureau — Manitoba defensive tackle David Onyemata, Iowa receiver Tevaun Smith, Boston College Mehdi Abdesmad and Michigan State defensive back Arjen Colquhoun — are all garnering serious interest south of the border.

The NFL draft begins Thursday in Chicago and should the quartet sign NFL deals either as draftees or priority free agents, that would leave St. John as the highest remaining prospect for the CFL draft May 10.

The six-foot-six, 308-pound Oklahoma Sooners offensive tackle admits he's thought of being taken No. 1 in the CFL draft.

"I actually have," he said Tuesday during a CFL conference call. "But until it happens, it's really an unknown thing.

"But if I was No. 1, I'd be very happy and very proud. My family would enjoy it also and I'd get to go to Saskatchewan and contribute to the team."

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who posted a league-worst 3-15 record last year, have the first overall selection but head coach/GM Chris Jones has said he'll listen to offers for the top pick.

The six-foot-four, 300-pound Onyemata topped the final rankings after standing second behind Smith in December. Smith was No. 2 on Tuesday's list.

Abdesmad is third ahead of Colquhoun. Abdesmad, of Montreal, was fourth in December behind Colquhoun, a native of Windsor, Ont.

St. John, a native of Ajax, Ont., went to No. 5 after standing third in December.

Rounding out the top-10 are Laval offensive lineman Charles Vaillancourt, Montana State linebacker Alex Singleton (who was unranked in December), Virginia defensive lineman Trent Corney, Laval offensive lineman Philippe Gagnon and Acadia receiver Brian Jones, who was 18th four months ago.

"It's nice to see people acknowledge how well you did at combine and your name jump up a bit but again, at the end of the day it's just a list," a philosophical Jones said. "Teams pick their players in respects to their needs.

"It's not really the end all but at the same time it's nice to see where stack up with other players across the country."

St. John agreed.

"Obviously, it's good to be ranked high, I'm proud about the ranking I have now," he said. "But it really doesn't matter.

"It's about how you take (advantage of) your opportunity once you get there."

St. John spent three seasons at Oklahoma, playing the last two after being redshirted. He appeared in seven contests last year, making four starts at right tackle after playing in eight of 13 games in 2014.

St. John attended last month's CFL combine in Toronto and spoke with all nine teams. But he didn't work out after participating in Oklahoma's pro day earlier in the week.

Laval actually has three offensive linemen ranked in the top-20, with Jason Lauzon-Seguin at No. 17. Canadian offensive linemen are always a priority among CFL teams so all three Rouge et Or players could be first-round selections next month, with Vaillancourt another potential first-overall pick.

"For sure it would be great to see three O-linemen from Laval (go in first round)," Vaillancourt said. "I'd be so proud of these guys and these guys would be so proud.

"If ever I could end up at No. 1 it would be great but you never know what could happen on this day. Right now there's nothing I can control and we'll just wait."

And it's for that reason Jones, a native of Enfield, N.S., isn't worrying about what team might draft him and when.

"The most important thing for me is just getting my body ready for camp and getting my mindset there," he said. "The CFL draft . . . is so hard to (predict) where players are going to go so you just have to be ready when your name is called."

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press