Picks: 5 picks, first selection is 7th Overall
2014 Draft Assessment: Despite a glaring need at OL Ed Hervey opted to forgo logic and take a receiver (the position they were likely the deepest at) in Round 1. Devon Bailey showed promise in his rookie season so it wasn’t a wasted pick just a very weird one. Beyond that there wasn’t much to show for this draft class. RB Aaron Milton saw a couple games on special teams, DB Raye Hartmann stuck around on the practice roster… but that’s about it. The Esks did a lot of good things in 2014… this draft was not one of them though.
Potential Pipeline: DL Stephan Charles (Buffalo), LS Jorgen Hus (recently cut by Kansas City), OL Austin Paztor (Jacksonville), K Shaun Suisham (Pittsburgh), LS LP Ladouceur (Dallas)
Current Strengths: Starts at receiver where they have 3 first round picks in Nate Coehoorn, Shamawd Chambers and Devon Baily. They also have Paris Jackson and Akeem Foster for depth. Fourth year DT Eddie Steele had a breakout year for the Esks, assuming Don Oramasionwu is back to full house the DT spot is solidified. Another breakout performer was Grant Shaw. Prior to his injury he was on pace to be among the top kickers in the league (maybe the Ricky Ray trade will pay off yet J).
During his tenure Ed Hervey has drafted just 2 O-linemen, only one of which is still with the team, the other has never seen the field. So it blows my mind how they managed to turn their O-line from an embarrassment to a strength. A ton of credit goes to departed coach Jon Himebauch (that and improved import OLs). That said the Esks started just 2 Cdn OL by the end of last season and one of those (Matt O’Donnell) has jumped back to the NBA… err I mean NFL. Normally that would make OL an area of weakness but they did add Alex Krasunik-Groh (an underrated player) and Greg Wojt so between them and a healthy Simeon Rottier they should be in pretty good shape at the interior of that OL.
Current Needs: They appear to be crazy enough to think Cauchy Muamba can be their starting safety… something both BC and Winnipeg have already determined is a terrible idea. For ratio reasons I imagine the plan is for a starting Cdn safety so they had better look at contingency plans for when (not if) the Muamba experiment fails.
The Esks do have Ramsay and Sorensen in addition to Wojt, Rottier and Krausnik so in the short term they should be okay but at some point Hervey will have to change his aversion to drafting OL or it will eventually degrade back to the point where Hervey has to blame it all on Rottier again. They should also look to build up the special teams depth. The loss of Joash Gesse leaves them very thin at Cdn LB.
Prediction: I expect the Esks to be one of the few teams not snapping up O-linemen in Round 1. They will likely wait to Round 2 or 3 to target them. I could them targeting a D-lineman like Maxx Forde or Daryl Waud should he fall that far. DB Chris Ackie or Byron Archambault might be other names to watch. I honestly won’t even rule Hervey taking a flyer on Tevaughn Campbell.