Winnipeg Blue Bombers trade down to select receiver in 2nd round of CFL Draft

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were looking to fill some small holes with their 10 picks in this year’s draft. In the end they got the star of the CFL Combine, the smallest player in the draft, and a top-10 prospect from the CFL Central Scouting list.

The Bombers started the night with the 8th overall pick. They packaged it with their 3rd-round pick in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders. The Bombers got back the 13th and 14th picks. And when they finally chose, the Bombers got some help for the league’s top offence.

They chose receiver Kevens Clercius at 13th overall. Clercius has good size at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, but not a lot of production in college. He had 49 catches in three seasons at the University of Connecticut. He could provide depth behind Nic Demski and Drew Wolitarsky.

At 14th overall they selected running back Michael Chris-Ike from Delaware State. Chris-Ike shone at the Combine, posting the fastest times in the 40-yard dash (4.51), the 3-cone (6.71) and short shuttle (4.19).
At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds he has a big body for a CFL back. And Chris-Ike has significant experience on special teams, which no doubt will appeal to Head Coach Mike O’Shea.

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Offensive lineman Gabe Wallace was their choice at 17. At 6’6, 333 pounds he started 28 games at guard and nine more at tackle at the University of Buffalo. The Bombers had seven offensive linemen on the roster for every game last season. If they do that again, Wallace will have a shot at playing every week.

In the 5th round the Bombers selected offensive lineman Giovanni Manu from UBC. He was eighth in the CFL’s Scouting Bureau Rankings. Manu lasted this long because he was a 4th-round pick of the Detroit Lions in last week’s NFL draft. With him going so high in the NFL draft you expect it will be years before the Bombers get a chance to sign him.

The smallest player in this year’s draft was Bisons receiver AK Gassama. The Bombers chose the Vincent Massey grad in the 6th round (55th overall). At 5’9, 158 pounds, Gassama may be a small package, but he packs a punch. He’s a two-time U Sports All Canadian. He had 38 receptions for 465 yards and four touchdowns for the Bisons last season.

The Bombers had 10 picks in total:
2nd round (20th overall): DT Kyle Samson, UBC
6-3, 290 lbs, 23-years-old. He played 25 games in his Canada West career. He was a second team All-Canadian in 2022 and 2023. He joins a crowd at the Canadian defensive tackle spot—starter Jake Thomas, Cam Lawson and Tanner Schmekel saw all snaps there last season.

4th round (37th overall): Long snapper Ian Leroux, Laval
6’1”, 225 lbs, 24-years-old. Leroux intends to return to school for the 2024 season according to JC Abbott of 3DownNation. Leroux could be a future replacement for Mike Benson. Benson turns 37 this month and has played 139 regular season games.

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5th round (40th overall): OL Ethan Kalra, Waterloo
6’2”, 309 lbs, 24-years-old. Started all 29 games in his U Sports career. Kalra earned a spot in the National Combine with a great performance in the Invitational Combine. Both of his parents were rugby players in university. He’s expected to return to school.

7th round (64th overall): OL Michael Vlahogiannis, McGill.
6’3”, 312 lbs, 25-years-old. Played centre and long snapper in university.

8th round (73rd overall): DE Owen Hubert, McMaster
6’4”, 263 lbs, 24-years-old. He had 5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss last season.

Bombers rookie camp begins on Wednesday, May 8.

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