Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Draft Pieces Falling Into Place

The CFL Draft is now just 7 days away and the draft picture got a lot more clearer this weekend with the NFL Draft going down.

Impacts of the draft itself were minimal with the only Canadian being drafted being TE Luke Wilson who the Argos drafted last year as a red-shirt junior. He's always been more likely to end up in the NFL or MLB anyway and the Argos only used a 5th on him so not much impact.

The hours that followed the draft did affect this year's CFL draft though as some big name Canadian prospects ended up signing NFL free agent deals. Now given that I am this nation's biggest draft expert not named Duane Forde... and given that even the mighty Duane Forde has yet to pen anything, I feel it is my duty to educate you on the 3 ways a Canadian draft prospect can end up in the NFL each with widely different impacts on the draft:

1) Drafted - The 2013 NFL saw no CFL prospects get drafted but it did happen last year. When an NFL team drafts a Canadian it means they are serious about giving them a shot. You can liekly count on them being in the NFL for at least 2 years. As such, getting drafted will plummet CFL draft stock. For example, last year Tyrone Crawford was a 3rd round pick in the NFL and it dropped his CFL stock so low that no one bothered wasting a pick on him.

2) Free Agent Deal - This means an NFL team is not as committed to a prospect as those they drafted. In many cases teams are just looking for training camp bodies. The risk here is a lot less for a CFL team... but its still there. Best case scenario, the prospect will become available in September. Worst case, not for a year or 2. For example, the Riders drafted Keith Shologan in round 1 despite him having signed a FA deal with the Chargers. He was in Regina by midseason and ended up being a tremendous pick. Conversely, Toronto drafted LB Cory Greenwood in the first round but he ended up with a FA deal from the KC Chiefs... and is still there heading into his 4th season. As I said the risk is less but it is still real. A telling sign of a team's real interest in a players vs. just a camp body is the size of the signing bonus. Bigger bonus, bigger CFL risk.

3) Rookie Mini Camp Invite - This is the least risky options. Prospects are invited to an offseason rookie camp but not offered a contract... they have to earn it. This shows minimal commitment by the NFL team and more often than not leads to a very short NFL stint for the Cdn prospect. Last year both Shamawd Chambers and Frederic Plesius got these invites and neither led to a invite to main camp or a contract. Odds are good that prospects will be available for training camp this year for CFL teams.

With that little bit of draft education out of the way let's look at the impacts on the CFL Draft

DL Stefan Charles - Was expected to be drafted but was not. He did however sign a free agent deal with the Titans... and apparently with a decent signing bonus. This will predictably drop Charles to a 3rd round prospect. He for sure will be down south until September and I would guess the full year. I see him in the CFL some day but the team that drafts him will have to be patient.

DL Andy Mulumba - Was also expected to be drafted but had to settle for a FA deal from Green Bay. No word on the signing bonus so he is likely a less risky option than Charles. That said his lack of immediate availability should drop him into the 3rd round. Though it wouldn't surprise me to see a team gamble a 2nd rounder on him.

OL Matt Sewell - The top Cdn OL prospect got an FA deal with the Titans. That said I don't think this will affect his stock. No team drafting a tackle like Sewell expected him to play right away (they need grooming) so prospective teams were already prepared to be patient. He will still be a 1st / early 2nd rounder. The only thing this might do is scare off a team needing an immediate player.

DL Ben D'Aguilar - got a Mini-Camp invite from Tampa Bay. While this does add a bit of risk, it is minimal and I expect D'Aguilar to be a 1st rounder. Odds are good he'll be in training camp despite this NFL tryout. Winnipeg at #2 will still have eyes on him and if he somehow drops to #4, the Riders would definitely be interested.

LB CO Prime - Got a free agent deal with the Indy Colt. A bit surprised by this one but it definitely affects the CFL draft as Prime was quietly sneaking up draft boards and was a likely 2nd rounder (or outside chance at late 1st rounder). Teams generally like drafting LBs because they can play special teams from day 1. This will drop Prime into the 3rd round purely because other LBs will be avaialble to play on teams right away while teams will have to wait until September for Prime.

LS Jorgan Hus - So somehow this unheralded long snapper from right here at the U of R, who didn't even get mentioned in any talk of the 2013 CFL draft class, landed a free agent deal with the St Louis Rams. Who knew? Don't think this will affect the CFL Draft much since Hus wasn't on most draft boards but it certainly is interesting. That's 4 U of R Rams in the NFL for those counting (Ryan, Hicks, Charles, Hus)... personally I'm all for it since I enjoy how terribly all American announcers fail at saying Regina.

That's enough draft analysis for today. Tomorrow I will have my highly anticipated Mock Draft and Thursday a post on the Riders' likely strategy. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@RiderProphet) as I will have a bunch of draft facts and up to the minute draft news (well technically it will be "up to the whenever the hell I bother checking the interwebs" but up to the minute just sounds better).

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