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Alabama receiver John Metchie III moves atop Scouting Bureau rankings

TORONTO — The CFL Scouting Bureau provided another solid reason Tuesday why Tyrell Richards remains the favourite to be the first player taken in next month's draft.
Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (8) gets loose on a pass reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. Metchie of the Alabama Crimson Tide moved atop the CFL Scouting Bureau's final list Tuesday of the top-20 prospects for the league's 2022 draft. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

TORONTO — The CFL Scouting Bureau provided another solid reason Tuesday why Tyrell Richards remains the favourite to be the first player taken in next month's draft.

The Syracuse linebacker moved up a spot to third on the Scouting Bureau's final top-20 prospects list behind Alabama receiver John Metchie III and Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa, respectively. But both Metchie and Luketa are expected to taken in the NFL draft later this month, which would make them future considerations May 3 when Canadian teams make their selections.

The six-foot-three 232-pound Richards performed well at last month's CFL combine with both defensive linemen and his position group. He considered testing with the defensive backs, but declined amid injury concerns.

The nine CFL teams also got to meet with Richards and get a feel for him as a person as part of their overall evaluation. The franchise selecting Richards will not only get a player who'll report immediately, but one that's versatile and could contribute right away on special teams.

The Edmonton Elks currently hold the No. 1 selection.

"It (going first overall) would be an amazing thing to be a part of . . . especially to Edmonton, the Elks with their new name," Richards said during a video conference Tuesday. "But at the same time it doesn't change what I'm going to do once I get drafted . . . how I prepare for things.

"Whether I go first or 60th, to me it really doesn't matter. I just want to be out there playing football."

Richards had a career-high 24 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and two sacks in eight games (three starts) for Syracuse in 2020. He entered the transfer portal afterwards and entertained offers but couldn't make the move because he'd not accumulated enough transferable credits.

Richards ultimately decided to spend 2021 training and coaching at Clarkson Secondary School, his former high school. Richards had 54 tackles (9.5 for a loss) and six sacks in 31 career games at Syracuse.

He posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.60 seconds at the combine while recording a 37-inch vertical jump and 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Richards said moving up on the final top-20 list was nice but he wasn't putting much stock in it.

"To be honest, I don't really pay attention to the list all that much," he said. "It's cool to be on there, it's a great honour but at the end of the day I'm just working to be the best player I can be.

"It doesn't matter where I end up on somebody else's list, it's where I am in my own personal training and making sure I'm ready for camp."

Metchie, of Brampton, Ont., wasn't on the bureau's winter list released earlier this year because he still had university eligibility. However, Metchie opted to skip his senior season at Alabama and declare for the NFL draft.

Metchie had a team-high 96 catches last season for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He finishes his career at Alabama with 155 receptions for 2,081 yards and 14 TDs and in 2020 helped the Tide capture an NCAA title.

On Tuesday, Metchie received the Jon Cornish Trophy as Canada's top NCAA player for a second straight year. He joins B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke as the only players to win the honour twice.

Also moving up was Waterloo quarterback Tre Ford, who was ranked fourth. The Hec Crighton Trophy winner as Canadian university football's top player was sixth on the winter list.

Twins Jalen and Tyson Philpot, both receivers at the University of Calgary, stood fifth and sixth, respectively. Western defensive lineman Deionte Knight, Coastal Carolina defensive back Enock Makonzo, Waterloo defensive back Tyrell Ford (Tre Ford's twin brother) and Saskatchewan offensive lineman Noah Zerr rounded out the top-10.

Richards comes by his football acumen honestly as his father, Nick, played linebacker for both the Ottawa Rough Riders (1995-96) and B.C. Lions (1997-98).

"I think I do well because I have good genes, I'm athletic and I'm long," Richards said. "Honestly, I don't have a favourite position, I just love playing football.

"I grew up in high school playing corner and safety, got to college and moved to linebacker/defensive end and at the combine I did defensive line and linebacker. Looking back I wish I would've done the defensive back stuff, just to show I could."

Toronto's Daniel Adeboboye, a running back at Bryant University, also cracked the top-20 at No. 12. The five-foot-11, 220-pound Adeboboye wasn't on the winter list but attended the CFL combine.

"I haven't really seen it so I'm not sure where I am on the list but apparently I'm on it and that's a good start," he said. "But I'm just training and focusing on the future and whatever happens, happens."

Adeboboye ran for 509 yards on 117 carries (4.4-yard average) and six TDs in 10 games last fall while adding 29 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He also participated in Bryant's shortened spring season earlier in 2021 — thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic — averaging 111.3 yards per game, the program's first player since '15 to average over 100 yards per game.

But Adeboboye feels he's capable of following in the footsteps of Cornish, Andrew Harris and Jerome Messam as Canadians who were effective CFL running backs.

"I like to run the ball, obviously, but I can catch out of the backfield, I can catch out of the slot," he said. "I can block as well, if it's run-blocking or pass-blocking, I can be in the passing game as much as I am in the run game.

"They (veteran Canadian running backs) paved the way and hopefully I can carry the torch and get that chance to prove Canadians can play running back just as well as Americans, if not better."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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