The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected linebacker Henoc Muamba from St. Francis Xavier with their first overall pick at the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft on Sunday.
Muamba, whose older brother Cauchy spent the 2010 CFL season with the B.C. Lions after being selected in the fifth round (34th overall) last spring, is the first player from Xavier to be selected with the number one pick. It's also the first time since 1975 that the Blue Bombers have selected first overall in the draft.
The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba was Canadian university football's top defensive player last season. He was ranked 10th on the CFL Scouting Bureau's top prospects list in December but moved up to No. 3 in April following an impressive showing at the CFL Evaluation Camp in March.
"This is an exciting day for me and my family," said Muamba. "I've always dreamed of playing football professionally and to be picked first overall by such a great organization like the Blue Bombers, I couldn't be happier. I'm looking forward to getting to know my teammates and coming to camp ready to compete for a Grey Cup championship."
The Edmonton Eskimos selected offensive lineman Scott Mitchell with the second overall selection, picking up the four-year starter for Rice University.
The six-foot-five, 295-pound Mitchell, a Montreal native who grew up in Ottawa, was the top-ranked draft prospect by the CFL's Scouting Bureau and had been mentioned as a first-overall candidate.
The Calgary Stampeders moved up to No. 3 in a trade with the B.C. Lions and selected Calgary Dinos receiver Anthony Parker.
The six-foot-two, 215-pound Parker struggled mightily in Calgary's 29-2 Vanier Cup loss to Laval but bounced back with a stellar showing at the CFL's evaluation camp.
Calgary and B.C. swapped a total of six picks in the deal, with the Stampeders dealing the sixth, 11th and 37th overall selections to the Lions for the third, 26th and 34th pick.
Winnipeg had its second selection of the first round at No. 4 and made the first surprise of the opening round, taking Jade Etienne, a six-foot-three, 175-pound receiver from the Saskatchewan Huskies.
Etienne enjoyed a breakout season in 2010 that saw him finish third in the CIS with 721 receiving yards on 28 receptions in just seven games - an average of 103 yards per contest - while adding six touchdowns.
"Jade is a young receiver with plenty of upside," said vice-president and general manager, Joe Mack. "He is a big target with tremendous athletic ability who can make the tough catches. We're very excited to have selected him in this draft."
The Edmonton Eskimos selected receiver Nathan Coehoorn, a two-time All-Canadian, with the fifth overall pick that they acquired in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.The Eskimos sent 10th and 13th overall picks to Hamilton for the No. 5 selection and rights to import offensive lineman Zipp Duncan.
With the sixth overall pick the Lions selected Harvard University receiver, Marco Iannuzzi. The native of Calgary wrapped up his four-year career at Harvard in 2010 with six receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also averaged 34.5 yards per kickoff return in 2010, making him Harvard's all-time leader in that category and was the first player to have two kickoff returns for a touchdown in a single season.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders traded their first round pick, dealing to Toronto for the 12th and 27th selections. The Argonauts then selected offensive lineman Tyler Holmes.
"We felt Tyler Holmes was the best offensive lineman on the board and that the teams ahead of us would be looking at the offensive line," said general manager and head coach, Jim Barker. "This trade gives us a chance to get the guy we wanted and fill our pipeline."
The Grey Cup-champion Montreal Alouettes concluded the opening round by selecting kicker-punter Brody McKnight.
In 2010, McKnight connected on 14 of his 18 field goal attempts, the longest of which came from 53-yards out. He was also responsible for kickoffs and punts for the Grizzlies, where he maintained an average of 63.9 yards and 38.5 yards respectively.
With no picks in the first round, the Tiger-Cats acquired UConn offensive lineman Moe Petrus in the 10th spot. The 6-2, 281-pound native of St. Laurant, Quebec, has been a three-year starter at centre and guard.
The Roughriders' first selection came in the second round as well, 12th overall, selecting defensive back Craig Butler from Western Ontario. Butler has played the last four seasons for the Mustangs and was named an All-Canadian in his senior year.
The draft wrapped up with a total of 47 players selected; 34 coming from the CIS and 13 from the NCAA. The Calgary Dinos led the day in number of players selected with six, including two in the first round. Concordia, Laval and Western tied for the second most players selected with four.
By position, the offensive linemen led the way with 12 selections, closely followed by defensive linemen with 10 and receivers with nine. Linebackers followed with four picks, defensive backs, running backs and kickers each with three, tight ends with two and one quarterback.
There were also a total of five trades involving 14 draft picks and three roster players throughout the day, including the Lions shipping kicker Sean Whyte to the Alouettes in exchange for their first round selection in 2012.