Dublanko First Off The Board In CFL Draft

By Chris Lawton

Joel Dublanko LB, formerly of the Cincinnati Bearcats was the first player taken in the 2024 CFL draft by the Edmonton Elks. His combine testing was excellent, and the man who was named first-team All-AAC as a member of the Bearcats in 2021 before spending time in the USFL and with the Saints and Seahawks has drawn comparisons to former Most Outstanding Defensive Player Alex Singleton. If the Elks get anything like the production Calgary got from the two-time CFL all-star Singleton, then they will be very happy with this pick.

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26-year-old Dublanko had a great CFL Combine in Winnipeg, improving on almost all the testing numbers he recorded during his pro day in 2022. The man who played 63 games for the Bearcats and appeared on special teams and Defence seems like a perfect fit for the CFL game.

The first round saw 8 of the 9 CFL teams making a pick, as Calgary had two first-round selections. Winnipeg waited until round 2 to draft their first player, Connecticut receiver Kevens Clercius at 13th overall.

A little bit of history was made with the second pick too. The Ottawa REDBLACKS took Nick Mardner, WR, who is the first player out of Auburn to be selected in a CFL draft.

2024 CFL Draft - First Round

​(Team | Position | Name | School)

  1. Edmonton | LB | Joel Dublanko | Cincinnati.
  2. Ottawa | WR | Nick Mardner | Auburn.
  3. Saskatchewan | OL | Kyle Hergel | Boston College.
  4. Calgary | DB | Benjamin Labrosse | McGill.
  5. Toronto | WR | Kevin Mital | Laval.
  6. BC | OL | George Una | Windsor.
  7. Hamilton | OL | Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay | Laval.
  8. Calgary | OL | Christy Nkanu | Washington State.
  9. Montreal | LB | Geoffrey Cantin-Arku | Memphis.

Of course, this being a CFL Draft you always get a mixture of picks. From ones that the teams will be hoping to see in training camp, to future picks where if they don’t catch on in the NFL, having their rights through the draft could be a boon down the road.

The Global Draft

The Elks also had the first pick in the CFL Global Draft and took linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements with the first overall pick out of the University of Nebraska. Eteva Mauga-Clements saw action on both defence and special teams in every game in 2022 while starting two games at linebacker. He posted a career-high 39 tackles with 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack and one forced fumble. The Elks will look to utilise him on special teams to begin with.

Perhaps of most interest in the Global Draft for UK based fans was the second selection Edmonton made (10th overall) of DL David Olajiga, the English player out of Central Missouri.

Olajiga is a 6-foot-3 287-pound defensive tackle. In 2023, he put up 41 tackles, 8.0 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and seven quarterback hits. He also blocked three kicks!

Right now, he is singed as an undrafted free agent to the Rams, but the Elks will be keeping an eye on his availability.

2024 Global Draft - Full List

1 (1): Edmonton Elks – LB Eteva Mauga-Clements, Nebraska

1(2): Ottawa RedBlacks – P Matt Hayball, Vanderbilt

1 (3): Saskatchewan Roughriders – DL Tyrone Taleni, USC

1 (4): Calgary Stampeders – TE, Ron Tiavaasue, New Mexico State

1 (5): Hamilton Tiger-Cats – P Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M

1 (6): BC Lions – K Carl-Heinrich Meyer, No College

1 (7): Toronto Argonauts – P Jeremy Edwards, Eastern Kentucky

1 (8): Winnipeg Blue Bombers – LB Fabian Weitz, Cologne Centurions

1 (9): Montreal Allouettes – P Sam Clark, James Madison

2 (10): Edmonton Elks – DL David Olajiga, Central Michigan

2(11): Ottawa RedBlacks – LB Heston Lameta, Northern Arizona

2 (12): Saskatchewan Roughriders – P Jordy Sandy, TCU

2 (13): Calgary Stampeders – DL Julius Welschof, UNC-Charlotte

2 (14): Hamilton Tiger-Cats – WR Thomas Yassmin, Utah

2 (15): BC Lions – P Tory Taylor, Iowa

2 (16): Toronto Argonauts – DL Denzel Daxon, Illinois

2 (17): Winnipeg Blue Bombers – DB Lucky Ogbevoen, Tirol Raiders

2 (18): Montreal Allouettes – OL Nouredin Nouili, Nebraska



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK