Friday, May 1, 2009

Draft Strategery

Well draft day is almost upon us so I figured since I call myself the Prophet I should probably make some attempt to “predict” what’s going to happen in tomorrow’s draft. Prior to reading my thoughts on the draft please read the following disclaimer:

The Rider Prophet is not, nor does he pretend to be, a scout or anything resembling someone that can tangibly evaluate football skill. He is merely an opinionated bigot who feels as though he can predict the future based on his highly biased view of Canadian Football. Any thoughts or predictions contained in the following may not actually be based on anything factual and are a product of the 15 minutes Prophet spent following the CIS this past season. Rider Prophet Media is not responsible for any falsehoods, fabrications, fairytales or outright libel contained herein. Furthermore, Rider Prophet Media is not responsible for any injuries, sexually transmitted diseases or spontaneous combustion that results from reading this material.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up here’s a team by team breakdown in terms of Canadian talent heading into the draft.

First Pick: 9th Overall (Round 2)
# of Picks: 2
Strengths: Despite the fact that we somehow managed to end up with less picks than the Bombers (how embarrassing), the Riders already have a very solid base of Canadian talent. With the addition of Rempel and St-Pierre; our plethora (good word) of receivers; and 3 established Canadian RBs, we will definitely not be drafting on the offensive side of the ball.
Needs: While we don’t have any glaring holes on defense Canadian-wise, odds are this is where we will draft. Linebacker is pretty much full with McCullough, Carter and Wagner. Stadnyk and Shologan provide some young blood for the line (though if a decent DL prospect falls low enough we may grab him). This leaves only the secondary. We obviously traded up for a reason, and I believe that reason is Tamon George. Widely considered one of the top cover men in the CIS, I think the Riders have their eyes set on adding him into the mix with Mitchell and Alexander in the Canadian corner experiment. Not to mention the fact that he fits perfectly in our new “recruit only from Saskatchewan” strategy (which I’m pretty sure contravenes NAFTA if we were ever called on it).

First Pick: 1st Overall (Round 1)
# of Picks: 7
Strengths: Given that the 1st overall pick has been a Ti-cat tradition for years (4 of last 6), they have been quietly amassing some of the top young prospects at their respective positions… Bauman, Barker.
Needs: For Hamilton to become competitive again they need to start winning the battles in the trenches. That means they should be focusing on linemen… particularly on the defensive side where they are pretty weak.

First Pick: 2nd Overall (Round 1)
# of Picks: 7
Strength: None… years of focusing on NFL cast offs has left them with very little young Canadian talent. Though the offseason acquisitions of Pottinger, Picard and Keeping help a bit.
Needs: Everything. Seriously, no matter what position they draft they will be addressing a need. They will focus very little on the O-line as they have done a decent job addressing that in the offseason. What they really need is some offensive weapons not named Bruce… particularly now that Dorsey is gone. They are also desperately in need of some defensive players.

First Pick: 19th Overall (Round 3)
# of Picks: 4
Strengths: Even less than Toronto. Guess that’s what trading away all your first round picks for the better part of a decade will get you. Outside of Brown and LaBatte (and possibly Kahn if he’s healthy) this is a sad looking bunch.
Needs: You name it, they need it. Problem is they don’t pick until the 3rd round of a weak draft so its unlikely things will look much better when the draft is over.

First Pick: 11th Overall (Round 2)
# of Picks: 5
Strengths: They’ve got 2 good Canadian RBs (at least for a game or 2). They also have some solid talent at other spots: Braidwood, Peterson, the Comiskeys. And let's not forget the blitzing sensation that is Scott Gordon. Okay maybe forget him.
Needs: Last season underlined the need for a viable back-up for Braidwood and they’re thin in the O-line. But given their draft position a more realistic chance for improvement would be a half decent Canadian LB (which they currently lack).

First Pick: 4th Overall (Round 1)
# of Picks: 7
Strengths: Buono consistently fields some of the best groups of Canadians in the league. Guys like Paris Jackson, Brent Johnson and Javier Glatt are among the tops in the league at their spot regardless of their birth certificate.
Needs: Their O-linemen aren’t getting any younger so with 3 picks in the first round this would be the perfect time to stock on some top prospects. They could also use a viable option to back-up Paris Jackson (and no I don’t believe O’Neil Wilson and viable option should be used in the same sentence). Apparently Buono is also extremely interested in Jamall Lee.

First Pick: 7th Overall (Round 1)
# of Picks: 8
Strengths: O-Line features some of the game’s best (Chui, Flory), Sanchez is a ratio buster and that Mormon receiver they have is pretty good too.
Needs: Youth! While all those names I mentioned are pretty darn talented, they are also getting pretty darn old. When half the team retires next year they will have some big holes to fill. Their priority should be O-line, receiver and D-line in that order. And as per tradition, the Frencher the name the better.

First Pick: 8th Overall (Round 1)
# of Picks: 8
Strengths: O-line is among the best in the CFL and some of them are just getting started. Names like Labinjo, DeAngeles and Teyo Johnson also stand out.
Needs: Overall Calgary has no glaring holes so I’m guessing they default to the tried a true “when in doubt draft linemen” strategy that has been a staple of this draft for years.

Two things have somewhat changed the landscape of the first round. First, OT Zac Carlson (who was pretty much a lock to be drafted top 3) didn’t have his non-import status approved in time to be draft eligible. He will instead be available in the supplemental draft on May 11th. Second, RB Jamall Lee, also a consensus top pick, signed a free agent deal with the Carolina Panthers. While Lee will still most likely be drafted high, this may drop him a spot or 2 since he will not be immediately available.

You have to look no further than last year’s draft to see the risk/reward of taking a chance on drafting someone who has signed in the NFL. Last year both Keith Shologan and Rolly Lumbala had signed NFL contracts but were drafted nonetheless and ended up on CFL rosters before the end of the season. By contrast, Samuel Giguere was also drafted but remained with the Indy Colts all last year and may not even return this year either.

Anyway, enough rambling, here’s how I see the First Round going down…

1 – Hamilton – OL Simone Rottier
2 – Toronto – DL Osie Ukwuoma
3 – Hamilton – DL Etienne Legare
4 – BC – RB Jamall Lee
5 – BC – OL Matt Morencie
6 – BC – WR Matt Carter
7 – Montreal – OL Dylan Steenberg
8 – Calgary – DL Dee Sterling
9 – Sask – DB Tamon George

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for my Live Draft Day Blogging beginning at 9am (clearly I failed to consider the start time before deciding to do this).


Luke said...

Interesting discussion on Prime Time Sports last night between Bob McCown and the CFL's COO, whose name I don't know and am surely too lazy to look up, about the complete lack of Canadian QB's and rule changes needed to change that.

It was too bad that they were short on time because it would have been interesting to hear an in-depth discussion about it. Of course the COO was just towing the corporate line, "Well, we're looking into rule changes," and "It's something we've discussed." But maybe there's some change on the horizon.

Rider Prophet said...

That's interesting. I hope they do decide to do somehting to encourage Canadian QBs. History currenlty teaches us that a bright promising QB prospect will either end up starring in a bad reality show like Jesse Palmer; playing fullback like Mathieu Bertrand; or unemployed like Teale Orban.