The Hamilton Tiger-Cats sprung a surprise at the top of the 2021 CFL Draft. With the first overall pick Hamilton took the last player entered as a prospect. They selected Boston College tight end Jake Burt. In the process he became the ninth player from Boston College selected in CFL Draft history and the first-ever in the first round.
Burt, 24, spent last season on the practice roster of the NFL’s New England Patriots after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. The big tight end played 36 games at Boston College over parts of five seasons (2015-19), amassing 23 receptions for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
Jake Burt grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, but was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was was a late addition to this year’s eligible player list after holding the above mentioned NFL practice roster spot for New England in 2020.
This year’s top pick was described on cfl.ca as, A tight end who emphasizes the versatility in his game, Burt has the size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) to block and the hands to make plays in the passing game. He views himself as a receiver but told CFL.ca’s Chris O’Leary this past week that he “can put a lot of different hats on.”
Hamilton will be hoping he pans out better than their overall number 1 pick from the 2018 CFL Draft. Central Michigan WR Mark Chapman, opted not to sign in Hamilton and never played a down for the Tabbies. We ranked it the worst overall number one pick of the last decade. But, Hamilton will be hopeful this will pan out better and Burt will be able to wear whichever ‘different hat’ they need for him to contribute.
Hamilton and beyond: The top 10 picks
You can find a breakdown of each CFL teams’ 2021 Draft class here. But we will keep it simple and look at the top 10 selections. That way we get to have a look at the first overall selection of each of the nine CFL teams.
1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats: TE Jake Burt, Boston College
As detailed above.
2 Saskatchewan Roughriders: DB Nelson Lokombo, Saskatchewan
The younger brother of veteran CFL linebacker/defensive back Boseko Lokombo. Nelson Lokombo played DB for the Saskatchean Huskies and would feel right at home with the Roughriders. Lokombo is the 10th player from the Huskies to be selected in the first round of the CFL Draft. Lokombo had ten interceptions and 15 knockdowns in 30 career games with the Huskies.
3 Winnipeg Blue Bombers: OL Liam Dobson, Texas State
The 6’3″, 340lb O lineman played three seasons at Maine, appearing in 32 games, starting 27 and was an All-Colonial Athletic Association All-Star in 2019. (Maine did not play in 2020). He has since transferred to Texa State and will have his sights set on the NFL. This is a futures pick from Winnipeg. There is a risk they won’t see him in blue and gold but if he comes their way by 2022, the investment of an early pick will have been worthwile.
4 B.C. Lions: DL Daniel Joseph: North Carolina State
Whilst with the Wolfpack in 2020 Joseph recorded ten tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. Prior to transferring there he had been at Penn State where he registered 29 total tackles, five sacks, one pass knockdown, one forced fumble plus a fumble recovery in 32 games over three seasons (2017-19).
He is the younger brother of former No. 1 2017 CFL Draft pick Faith Ekakitie. Joseph is the first player ever drafted from North Carolina State. This is the the fourth year in a row the Lions have opted for an NCAA player in Round 1.
Like the Bombers pick with Dobson this is a futures pick for the Lions as Joseph is returning to North Carolina for another year.
5 Edmonton Football Team: DL Cole Nelson, Alberta
This is the second time in three years Edmonton has selected a defensive lineman in the first round. Edmonton picked someone on their doorstep selecting the University of Alberta defensive lineman.
He had a great Virtual Combine performance which may have elevated him here.
6 Ottawa RedBlacks: DE Deshawn Stevens, Maine
The selection of Stevens makes this the first time in RedBlacks history that they have taken a linebacker in the first round. Stevens had 28 tackles in Maine’s four-game 2021 spring schedule. This was as he was coming back from a torn Achilles suffered in September 2019. Currently registered on the NCAA transfer portal, but he has the potential to play in the CFL in 2021 if he were to go pro.
He had an amazing season for the University of Maine in 2018. That year he made 120 tackles (17 for a loss), nine sacks and two fumble recoveries.
7 Toronto Argonauts: OL Peter Nicastro, Calgary
You might argue that Nicastro is slightly undersized for a modern lineman at 6’2″ and 302lbs but he has plenty of experience at both guard and centre. Versatility is always a plus on the O line.
This is the fourth consecutive time the Argos have selected an offensive lineman in the first round. The longest run in Argos franchise history. Nicastro was a 2019 Canadian West All-Star. The Argos have been focused on rebuilding the O Line as an area of need and Nicastro could come in and compete for a spot in the trenches.
8 Calgary Stampeders: LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, Oklahoma State
Ogbongbemiga played 49 games over four seasons (2017-20) at Oklahoma State. He was voted second-team all-Big 12 and named his team’s defensive MVP in 2019. He was also a four-time member of the all-Big 12 academic first team.
Ogbongbemiga’s older brother Alex played in the CFL for Saskatchewan, Edmonton and BC. Amen won the Cowboys’ Outstanding Special Teams Player Award as a sophomore and the teams’ Defensive MVP award in 2019. He was two time team captain as voted for by his teammates.
Following the NFL Draft he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers. Calgary will monitor the situation carefully.
9 Hamilton Tiger-Cats: LB Nick Cross, UBC
This pick was yet another return on the trade of Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes for Hamilton. Which is also why we are dipping into the second round to look at the Als opening selection.
There is an inury flag here as Cross had a torn Achilles in January 2018 and a torn ACL in June 2020. However, he did lead Canada West in tackles in 2019. As well as being named a First-Team All-Canadian at strong-side linebacker.
10 Montreal Alouettes: OL Pier-Olivier Lestage, Montreal
Lestage played three seasons for the Montreal Carabins. In 2019 he was named a RSEQ first team All-Star and second team All-Canadian. This was after switching to guard having played tackle the previous two years.
Following the NFL Draft last week, Lestage signed a contract as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. The Als will monitor the situation.
It’s another futures pick but if comes off it will have been worth it for the Als.
There were quite a few risk/reward decisions being made here but that is what we expected going in.
Now, we have had a season announcement, a December Grey Cup was announced to be played in Hamilton. We have had a Draft and now CFL News on Twitter have reported that “All 6 provinces have now either verbally or in writing have approved the league’s protocol (health & safety return to play). Including the province of Ontario.”
Fingers crossed CFL fans as cautious optimism starts to take hold.
Banner Image: Hamilton made Boston Colleg TE Jake Burt the number one overall pick. Image from patspulpit.com