Alouettes GM Maciocia gears up for CFL draft under COVID-19 isolation measures

The new reality of life under COVID-19 means Montreal Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia will be physically alone in his basement while he and his staff participate in the CFL draft.

Former Grey Cup winning coach remains optimistic about upcoming season

Montreal Alouettes General Manager Danny Maciocia speaks to the media in January. On April 30, Maciocia and his staff will be participating in the 2020 CFL Draft separately from home in effort to follow COVID-19 distancing protocol. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

For the general manager of a CFL team, draft day is usually a beehive of activity and involves working elbow-to-elbow with scouts as everyone is collectively bunkered down for hours in the same room.

This year however, the new reality of life under COVID-19 means Montreal Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia will be physically alone in his basement while he and his football operations team decide which players they will pick to reshape the future of their franchise.

"I'm going to do it in the comfort of my home with probably my kids in the background and making sure that they come by and drop off a cup of coffee every once and awhile," he joked.

He's still optimistic the CFL will have a season despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and he says his picks will reflect that.

"We're going to operate on the premise that there is going to be a season and we're going to draft accordingly. That's not going to change our mindset," Maciocia said.

Already the start of CFL training camps, which were supposed to open in May, have been postponed and cities such as Calgary have banned any public gatherings on its territory until the end of August — casting doubt on whether the season could kick off any earlier than September.

Canadian NFLers could represent opportunity for Als

Several Canadian players who were projected to be high picks in the CFL draft have already been scooped up by NFL teams.

Neville Gallimore, a defensive tackle from Ottawa who was at the top of many CFL draft boards was picked in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

Others such as Quebecer Marc-Antoine Dequoy went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers.

This could represent an opportunity for teams like the Alouettes who don't have a pick in the first round this year.

"Typically we've seen players get drafted or sign with NFL clubs and they fall in the CFL Draft," Maciocia said.

Université de Montréal safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy was signed as an undrafted free agent by the NFL's Green Bay Packers, but could provide his former coach Danny Maciocia with an intriguing option during the 2020 CFL Draft. (James Hajjar/Université de Montréal)

Montreal's first pick is 14th overall and players such as Dequoy — who Maciocia coached at the Université de Montréal — could be available.

"He's definitely a force to be reckoned with," Maciocia said, but added that taking a player like Dequoy is a big gamble because he could have a long career in the NFL and it's possible he will never play a down in the CFL.

"We want to select the best player available but when we take a look at needs we're trying to address depth right now."

Maciocia said this year's draft has some good offensive line prospects and is very deep at the receiver position.

The return of S.J. Green?

If the Alouettes don't want to draft a receiver this year, it is possible they could bring back a former All-Star and fan favourite in S.J. Green.

Green — who won back-to-back Grey Cups with the Alouettes in 2009 and 2010 — is looking for a new contract and reportedly would like to come back to Montreal to finish his career.

Maciocia said he has not had any discussions with Green as of yet but added that the Alouettes should roll out the red carpet for him when he decides to retire.

S.J. Green, seen above as a member of the Montreal Alouettes during a 2015 game, reportedly would like to finish his career in Montreal. Als GM Danny Maciocia said he hasn't yet spoken with the veteran receiver about rejoining the team. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

"Regardless of if he plays another game, another down or another minute I think he's deserving to retire as an Alouette," Maciocia said.

"I would suggest strongly to the organization that when that day does come that we strongly encourage him to come down to Montreal and we have a ceremony for him, because he's been so deserving of everything that he's accomplished here as an Alouette and I think he should retire as an Alouette."

Green is 34-years-old and is a 13-year veteran of the CFL. He played 10 seasons in Montreal and was an East Division All-Star five times in a row before he was traded to the Toronto Argos in 2017. Most recently, he signed as a free agent in the XFL.

The CFL's draft is scheduled to take place on Thursday April 30th.