TORONTO — Godfrey Onyeka wasn’t about to backtrack.
Sitting in the hotel answering questions about the draft, some time in between interviews with GMs and coaches from various CFL teams, the defensive back out of Laurier hesitated and maybe even smirked before answering the question.
Why should he be the first overall pick in the draft?
“I’m pretty versatile,” he reasoned. “I can do quite a few things pretty well. I think for the most part I have a high ceiling. I’m very coachable, willing to take criticism. Physically I’m not too far off right now, and with the right coaching and the right weight program and the right mentoring, I think I could be really good.
“So yeah, I should be first overall.”
“AFTER SECOND YEAR I WAS A FIRST-TEAM ALL-CANADIAN, AND I WAS LIKE ‘WOW, I’M NOT TOO BAD AT THIS STUFF’.”
Onyeka had already taken some heat for telling reporters that he should be the first selection in the 2018 CFL Draft on May 3. But it’s that level of certainty in himself that makes him the type of player he is.
The Brampton, Ont. native went on to dominate one-on-ones a couple of days later at the combine in Winnipeg, and while he may not be the first overall pick, he remains a sure bet to be picked in the first round.
“Godfrey’s instincts and reaction time are among the best of any defender at all three levels of the defence in this draft class,” said CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson, who projects Onyeka to go fifth overall based on his most recent mock draft. “He should not get out of the first round.”
Success has always come naturally for Onyeka, whose brother, Kene, is also a highly-touted player in this year’s draft. Godfrey made an immediate impact as a fresman at Wilfrid Laurier, recording six tackles and an interception in four regular season games.
By 2017 he had emerged as one of the country’s top defensive playmakers, recording two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and three pass breakups, earning the nod for U SPORTS First-Team All-Canadian for the third consecutive year.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that if I really wanted to focus on something, I could do a lot of things athletically,” said Onyeka. “But it didn’t really kick in until second year. After second year I was a first-team all-Canadian, and I was like ‘wow, I’m not too bad at this stuff’.”
The biggest question for Onyeka will be where he projects at the next level. It’s a given that he’ll need to make an impact on special teams, but where will he line up on defence? The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defender was a boundary corner in university, but does he have the speed to play corner in the pros?
Safety might be the most natural spot for Onyeka, but some suggest he could put on some mass and play WILL linebacker.
Whatever happens, the next step is on May 3 when the 2018 CFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET.