It’s finally here... After weeks of speculation and discussion on how things will play out, the CFL Draft is only 2 days away. I must say I’m as excited as a hillbilly at a family reunion. Not just because this represents the first significant CFL news story in over a month but because the draft itself should be exciting. The landscape of the draft seems to be changing more often than a Bomber fan changes clothes (which means it has changed twice in the past week) and I expect a few more changes in the next 48 hours (changes in the draft that is, not the Bomber fan, having changed twice this week already they are set until Mother’s Day).
The first big change in the landscape came when the CFL released the 2007 financial information for all teams and officially announced the penalties that would be assessed under the new Salary Management System. Now if you’re a faithful reader of this blog, none of this should come as a surprise to you. To summarize: Als lose 4th overall pick; Riders, BC, Winnipeg and Montreal move up; and Hamilton gets the 8th overall pick (for reasons I still don’t understand).
Another wrench that was thrown into the mix was the NFL. While no Canadian prospects were drafted this weekend, a few notable names signed free-agent deals: Samuel Giguere (Indianapolis), Keith Shologan (San Diego) and Rolly Lumbala (Miami). All 3 were arguably the top prospects at their respective positions and were all expected to be 1st round selections. Now I still expect these 3 to get drafted but they may slip a spot or 2 based on the possibility of them sticking in the NFL. As history has shown, picking a player that the NFL has shown interest in can be risky - quite often they eventually make their way to north of the border, but there are also cases such as Toronto's 2005 first round selection of Nick Kaczur, now a starting lineman with the New England Patriots. That pick worked out about as well for Toronto as the "I'm a Colt" defense did for Kenton.
There are still a group of highly touted prospects led by Dylan Barker, Jesse Newman, Shea Emery and Dmitri Tsoumpas (by far the best name in the draft, I hope we draft him so I get to say it a lot). There’s also a bunch of other prospects that I’m sure are very talented but quite frankly I know nothing about. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I’m a joke writer, not a scout. Well okay, laziness is part of it too.
Traditionally the draft is a chance for teams to load up on linemen and pick up that token receiver. What's great for the Riders this year is that we already have a lot of depth at those positions and so we can look at drafting talent at other positions. Ken Miller has listed Defensive Backs and Defensive Linemen as a priority. He also mentioned that they aren't looking for starters for this season given our current strength at those positions.
The First Round Order is as follows:
After that the Riders have 3 more picks - a second rounder (10th overall), a third rounder (20th overall), and a fifth rounder (40th overall).
One way or another, it appears that Dylan Barker will be the first overall pick either by Hamilton or someone who trades up for the pick. Sorry to burst the bubble of any of you who thought there was a chance Barker might slip to #4 for the Riders to grab. Yes Hamilton is loaded with non-import DBs and yes Danny Maciocia is an idiot and yes Calgary does not seem to believe in investing in their defense but all of that considered, Barker still will not drop that far.
I’ll leave you with some random draft notes:
- Winnipeg still has a first round pick. I can’t remember the last time they held on to a first round pick… mainly because I’m not sure I had even been born the last time it happened.
- Some people are wondering about Regina Rams’ QB Teale Orban. IF (and this is a big if) he gets drafted it won’t be before the 5th or 6th round. And I guarantee it won't be the Riders who take a chance on him. I have nothing against Orban and hope he catches on somewhere, but Canadian QBs are about as coveted as a William Shatner music CD - sure, someone somewhere might be interested but not most people.
- One Saskatchewan product to watch is DB Paul Woldu who attended Rider training camp two years ago as a junior. He’s small but very talented.
Check back for my post draft thoughts on Wednesday.