The Roughriders opened their draft night by selecting Louisiana Tech University wide receiver Samuel Emilus in the first round, seventh overall.
“It is just great to finally be able to play pro football and have a dream come true,” said Emilus.
The Montreal native spent his senior season playing eight games with the Bulldogs last year. In those eight games, Emilus recorded 17 receptions for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The 24-year-old also returned three kickoffs for a total of 66 yards.
“We had him as our top guy on the board, outside of a couple of guys who are going to the NFL,” said Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day.
Before his senior season at Louisiana Tech, Emilus played three collegiate seasons at the University of Massachusetts, playing in 22 games as a receiver and one as a returner. While playing in Massachusetts, he recorded 59 receptions for a total of 653 yards and seven touchdowns while returning six kicks for 114 yards.
“We liked his toughness, we like his ability to go up for the football, runs well, has good size, he’s tough, he’s physical, a lot of attributes we like here in Saskatchewan,” said O’Day.
“Whenever the ball is in the air, it’s my responsibility to go get it,” said Emilus. “That’s one of my strengths and I’m proud of it.”
Emilus’ addition comes at a timely period for the Roughriders, after they saw the departure of wide receiver Brayden Lenius this offseason, who signed a deal with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. Lenius led Saskatchewan with four touchdown catches last year. The Roughriders also saw last year’s second-round pick, Terrell Jana, retire during the offseason.
Emilus was ranked 11th in the CFL’s final prospect rankings before the draft. He has also been invited to attend the Arizona Cardinals’ rookie camp.
Roughriders pick up talent in later rounds
Saskatchewan followed up their first-round pick with seven more in the later rounds.
The Roughriders selected Western University offensive lineman Zack Fry with the 16th pick in the second round. The London, Ont., native made 28 starts at right tackle in 2021. Fry was an OUA First-Team All-Star in both 2019 and 2021, a U Sports Second-Team All-Canadian in 2019 and was named to the OUA All-Rookie Team in 2018. This past season saw Fry help the Western Mustangs capture their eighth Vanier Cup in school history.
“He was a very good offensive lineman on a team that won the Vanier (Cup), a very decorated offensive lineman in U Sports, and we’re excited to have him.”
In the third round, Saskatchewan chose offensive lineman Diego Alatorre Montoya with the 27th pick in the draft. Alatorre Montoya, a Canada West Conference All-Star last year, played 31 games across four seasons at the University of British Columbia. Over his collegiate career, he has played both left and right tackle before moving to left guard in his senior season. Last year, Alatorre Montoya was UBC’s only senior and helped Thunderbirds running back Isaiah Knight rush for 701 yards and three touchdowns on 113 carries.
Saskatchewan selected WilfrId Laurier linebacker Tommy Bringi in the fourth round. The 21-year-old was an OUA First-Team All-Star in both 2021 and 2019 and recorded 147 tackles, nine and a half tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions over 23 collegiate games.
Defensive back Tristan Fleury was selected out of McGill University in the fifth round. Fleury made 120 career tackles, including two tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions and seven pass breakups in 32 games as a Redbird.
In the sixth round, the Roughriders took Albert defensive back Jayden Dalke, who recorded 94 tackles, one and a half tackles for loss and three interceptions in 16 collegiate games and was a Canada West First-Team All-Star and a U Sports Second Team All-Canadian in 2021.
Hillsdale College defensive back Zach Herzog was taken in the seventh round by Saskatchewan. Over five collegiate seasons, Herzog was a three-time First-Team All-Conference player and recorded 244 defensive tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.
The Roughriders final eighth-round pick was used to select University of Regina wide receiver Riley Boersma. Boersma, who’s from Cambridge, Ont., earned 39 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns in 19 games with the Rams. He had a strong showing at the CFL combine, recording the second-best 40-yard dash time at 4.49 seconds and tying for the best vertical jump at 40.5 inches.
“It was a bonus that he’s local,” Roughriders assistant general manager Kyle Carson said.
“We liked the kid. He’s one of the fastest kids in the draft, productive for two seasons in Regina. … Good tape, good character, and we really liked his route-running ability.”
Carson also noted that the team had Boersma ranked higher than where he went, so they were pleased to be able to select when they did.
“I’m looking to go and earn my spot on the roster, that’s my goal,” said Boersma. “But I do still have five classes left so if the Riders want to send me back for another year (to school), I’d go.
“I have two years of (university) eligibility left so I can go play a year and finish up my classes so that’s not a bad back up plan.”
Overall, the Riders brass say they felt good about how their selections in this year’s draft.
“We felt like there was a couple of areas that we needed to create some depth at … and we feel like we’ve done that. … We feel good about it and we’re happy with the guys we picked,” O’Day said.
Plenty of Saskatchewan talent showcased in draft
Aside from the Riders’ selection of Regina’s Boersma, this year’s CFL draft was rich in homegrown Saskatchewan talent.
University of Saskatchewan defensive lineman Nathan Cherry led the way, being selected third overall by the BC Lions. The Saskatoon native had six sacks and 24 tackles in 10 regular season and playoff games for the Huskies in 2021.
The Lions also selected two other Huskies, picking up Langenburg-born offensive lineman Noah Zerr 12th overall and Saskatoon native Riley Pickett 41st overall.
In the third round, the Lions also looked to the Regina Rams, selecting Regina native Ryder Varga 29th. Fellow Ram Joel Braden went to the Calgary Stampeders in the fifth round.
Regina-born defensive back Eric Sutton was also drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the sixth round. He is the son of Eric Sutton Sr., who was a former Roughriders defensive back.