TORONTO — Linebacker Jordan Williams was the first player taken in the 2020 CFL draft Thursday night.
The B.C. Lions opened the draft with a bang, moving up from third overall to secure the No. 1 pick from the Calgary Stampeders, then taking Williams.
The five-foot-11, 219-pound Williams hasn’t played football since 2017 when he finished second in tackles at East Carolina with 89 — including three for a loss — with a forced fumble.
The 27-year-old is an American by birth but is deemed a national for the draft because his mother is Canadian.
Last year, the Ottawa Redblacks offered Williams a practice-roster spot after he attended one of the club’s free-agent camps. But upon learning of his mother’s nationality, the club recommended Williams investigate taking that path into the league.
Had Williams accepted Ottawa’s invitation, he would’ve been registered with the CFL as an American and his status couldn’t have been reversed afterward.
Welcome to the Den Jordan 💪
— BC LIONS (@BCLions) May 1, 2020
Williams shined at last month’s Ontario combine, the CFL’s final due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press, 39-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 8.5 inches.
He finished ranked No. 8 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final top-20 list after not being on the previous one.
B.C. (5-13) finished last in the West Division last season and made a coaching change. DeVone Claybrooks was fired and replaced by Rick Campbell after he stepped down from that post with the Ottawa Redblacks.
There was a break from tradition as CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie didn’t announce any of the selections. However, he did deliver a pre-draft address.
The Toronto Argonauts took Virginia receiver Dejon Brissett, the older brother of Toronto Raptors guard/forward Oshae Brissett at No. 2. The six-foot-one, 195-pound Brissett, a native of Mississauga, Ont., appeared in 12 games last season with Virginia after transferring from Richmond, recording two receptions for 18 yards.
Brissett appeared in 33 games at Richmond, recording 86 catches for 1,282 yards and nine TDs. He also returned 41 kicks for 941 yards and one touchdown while amassing 2,388 yards of total offence. He was fifth on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 list.
At No. 3, Calgary took Southeastern Louisiana defensive end Issac Adeyemi-Berglund, a native of Dartmouth, N.S. The six-foot-two, 243-pound Adeyemi-Berglund can also play special teams, which he did in college.
He was No. 12 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 list.
The Edmonton Eskimos selected Buffalo offensive lineman Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, of Montreal, at No. 4.
The six-foot-four, 300-pound Jack-Kurdyla is regarded as being pro ready as he was a four-year starter for a Bulls team that ran for a school-record 3,256 yards (296 yards per game) and averaged five yards per carry while allowing a program-low eight sacks.
With the fifth pick, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats used the first of their two opening-round selections on Guelph offensive lineman Coulter Woodmansey. The six-foot-five, 295-pound Toronto native is regarded as a tough player who plays with some nastiness, solid attributes for a franchise that recorded a team-recod 15 regular-season wins last year.
The Ottawa Redblacks (league-worst 3-15 record) followed by taking versatile Adam Auclair of Laval.
The six-foot-two, 213-pound Auclair, whose brother, Antony, is a tight end with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, can play at linebacker and in the secondary as well as contributing on special teams.
With the seventh selection, the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t look far, taking Mattland Riley, an offensive lineman at the University of Saskatchewan. The six-foot-three, 285-pound Riley is a native of Melfort, Sask., and was a 2018 second-team All-Canadian.
With its second first-round pick, Hamilton took North Dakota defensive end Mason Bennett. The six-foot-four, 258-pound Winnipeg native appeared in 43 career collegiate games, recording 128 tackles — 31.5 for a loss — with 20 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
And Toronto, which posted a second straight 4-14 campaign last year, completed the opening round at No. 9 by selecting Regina offensive lineman Theren Churchill. The six-foot-six, 295-pound native of Stettler, Alta., made 25 career starts at right tackle for the Rams.
Neither the Montreal Alouettes nor the Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers had first-round picks.
THE CANADIAN PRESS