Saskatchewan Roughriders select Nelson Lokombo with second overall pick in 2021 CFL draft

The Saskatchewan Roughriders kicked off their portion of the 2021 CFL draft by selecting Nelson Lokombo on Tuesday.

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Nelson Lokombo’s college career started in Saskatchewan and it appears so will his professional career.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders selected Lokombo, a University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ defensive back, with the second overall pick in Tuesday’s CFL draft.

He joins the Riders after making the move from Abbotsford, B.C., to Saskatoon in 2017.

“These past four years have definitely been an eye-opener for the culture change and how different it is from B.C.,” Lokombo said after Tuesday’s draft. “The love of the game is huge in Saskatchewan. I’m excited to be there and being not too far away from my alma-mater.”

Lokombo was named the U Sports defensive player of the year after a stellar 2019 season. He had four interceptions (returning two picks for touchdowns), 23 ½ defensive tackles and 2 ½ sacks during the 2019 season as a boundary halfback.

“He’s pretty darned talented and probably the best I’ve ever seen at that level,” said former CFL player and Regina product Paul Woldu, who is a defensive backs coach with the Huskies.


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Woldu, who split his time in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes and his hometown Roughriders, feels Lokombo can make an immediate impact if there is a 2021 season.

“He’s such a great all-around football player and he doesn’t lack a lot,” Woldu said. “There are some guys, especially on the back end, who can run well and can cover, but aren’t overly aggressive and can’t tackle. Some guys are great tacklers and can’t cover well. He just does it all.”

Lokombo started his U of S career as a cornerback and was later moved to halfback. He could play safety in the CFL along with contributing on special teams.

“I’m a guy who can play anywhere, similar to what I did (with the Huskies),” Lokombo said. “I can play safety, SAM or defensive halfback.”

Lokombo joins his brother, Boseko, in the CFL. Boseko is a linebacker with the B.C. Lions.

“I’m excited to see him on the football field instead of from the bleachers.” Nelson Lokombo said.

Lokombo wasn’t the only U of S product to be selected. Offensive lineman Connor Berglof was selected in the third round (24th overall) by the Ottawa Redblacks. Josh Hagerty, a defensive back with the Huskies, was selected by the Toronto Argonauts in the sixth round (47th overall).

Saskatchewan’s other selections in the six-round draft were receiver Terrell Jana (second round, 17th overall), tight end Bruno LaBelle (third, 20th), defensive lineman Alain Cimankinda (fourth, 35th), offensive lineman Logan Bandy (fifth, 38th) and defensive back Matt Watson (sixth, 53rd).


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The University of Regina Rams had two prospects selected— linebacker Robbie Lowes and running back Kyle Borsa. Lowes was picked in the fourth round (34th overall) by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Borsa was selected by the Blue Bombers in the fifth round (39th overall).

Linebacker Nick Cross, a Regina product who plays with the UBC Thunderbirds, was selected ninth overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Cross, a graduate of LeBoldus, started his CFL career with the Rams before transferring to UBC. In 2019. Cross led Canada West in defensive tackles in 2019 en route to being selected a first-team all-Canadian at linebacker.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats opened the draft by selecting former Boston College tight end Jake Burt, a Regina product who moved to Boston with his family when he was four years old.

Burt spent five seasons at Boston College before signing with the NFL’s New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Burt spent the 2020 NFL season on the Patriots’ practice roster.

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