'We have a name in mind': Roughriders prepare for 2nd pick in CFL draft

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are getting ready to select second overall in the 2021 CFL Draft on Tuesday.

“I think you have a pretty strong idea of who you’re going to pick. When you’re not picking number one you’re never guarateed that you’re going to get the guy that you think you’re going to pick,” explained Riders' general manager Jeremy O’Day. “Obviously we have a name in mind.”

It’s the highest pick Saskatchewan has had in the CFL draft since selecting Cameron Judge second overall in 2017.

O’Day said his priority is choosing the most talented player.

“[You want to] improve your team as much as possible, so you want a guy that’s going to come in and contribute and hopefully turn into a good long-term player for you,” said O’Day. 

The CFL season was cancelled in 2020, meaning organizations haven’t had a chance to evaluate the Canadian talent they drafted a year ago. O’Day said this creates a unique situation.

“They won’t have any advantage or disadvantage, I think just the fact of the matter is you’ve already gone through a draft with addressing some needs and then now coming into this year you’re re-evaluating knowing that you already have those guys coming to training camp,” O’Day said.

Two Saskatchewan products are expected to be chosen early in the draft.

University of Regina Rams running back and Regina product Kyle Borsa had the quickest 40-yard dash. The Riffel high school alumnus ran the sprint in 4.46 seconds at the virtual national combine.

There’s also Boston College tight end Jake Burt, who declared for the CFL draft at the eleventh hour. The 24-year-old has spent most of his life in Boston, but was born in Regina. Last year, the six-foot-five, 230-pound player signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted rookie. Burt spent the season on the NFL team’s practice roster.

“I’ve always thought of Saskatchewan as my hometown, believe it or not,” Burt admitted. “Right now the CFL is the one that’s calling my name and honestly I’m extremely excited to go out there and play.”

Last year, the Riders selected Weyburn’s Mattland Riley, a former Saskatchewan Huskies offensive lineman, with their 7th overall pick in the first round. O’Day admitted that Saskatchewan roots can increase a players stock if they’re being compared to another player with equal talent.

“The advantage is you have a better ablity to keep them long term,” O’Day said.

The majority of the Canadian talent in the 2021 CFL Draft haven’t been able to play a meaningful game since 2019. However, the Riders’ GM wasn’t concerned about the lack of game tape when evaluating players.

“It’s a lot to do with their resumes, so it’s one piece of the resume, how they look how they test, their measurables, they’re all important for us,” O’Day said.

The draft has been shortened to six rounds instead of eight.  The Riders will pick 17th overall in the second round of the draft, which is a snake style draft. Each CFL team has one pick per round in a pre-determined order with the team that chooses last in the first round choosing first in the second and the order of picks reversing in each round.

“I was pro snake draft before they actually did the random draw and then after that I said, ‘I think we should just go back to the traditional way of drafting,’” O’Day joked. “But now, we all agreed on the snake draft and under the circumstances, I think it's a fair way to go.”

The draft begins at 6 p.m on Tuesday.