On Tuesday, dozens of young men had their life long dreams of mediocre pay for a physically demanding job with no job security come true in the form of the CFL Draft. This was our new regime’s first draft and our first chance to see their plan for rebuilding the Canadian content of the Riders in action. I’m sure you’ve all been eagerly awaiting my assessment of the draft and the 7 prospects we had (well more specifically 6 prospects and a lottery ticket but more on that later) and your wait is finally over.
Now before I get into the Draft, I feel compelled to comment on the new Rider jerseys that were unveiled last week. I think they are okay (now’s there the high quality analysis you’ve come to expect from me). They aren’t horrible and aren’t outstanding, but they are good enough. The all green look isn’t as awful as I expected given the white striping but still… go with the white pants. I am extremely happy that we shipped the god awful tramp stamp to BC. Overall a solid 7-7.5 out of 10. And besides, whether you love them or hate them, a new set will be coming along in 2-3 years… and likely a new alternate next year.
Back the draft…
Chris Jones has a reputation as a risk taker and his 2016 draft class certainly put that on display. There were many examples of Jones swinging for the fences rather than taking safer options. So if I was to assess the draft right now I would give it a solid C. The O-lineman we got is loaded with potential but anything but a sure thing, 2 guys are currently in the NFL (1 likely for a long time)… the rest of the draft class left us with a kicker, a LB, a late round O-lineman unlikely to make the team and a receiver who doesn’t have his head on straight. We really didn’t pay a ton of attention to the glaring need for LBs. Not exactly reason for fanfare.
That said, I don’t hate what we did overall. We got one of the “stud” o-lineman (something we desperately needed). There is risk in Elie Bouka but if/when he ends up with the Riders it will be like getting a second first round calibre player for the low price of a late 3rd round pick. Obviously Jones has a longer-term view and would rather get quality players he may have to wait on rather than settle for lower calibre players he can have today.
So I’m sticking with my C draft rating at this point. If Bouka lands here I think it upgrades immediately to a B-. And who knows if we can manage to get Standford’s head out of his ass and if Oneymata by some miracle ever comes back north this may be seen as a massively important draft for us.
Let's take a closer look at our draft picks
1st Rd (1) - OL Josiah St John - The book on him is that he has all the physical tools needed to be an impact Cdn tackle and has the NCAA Div 1 pedigree. The drawback is that he doesn't have a huge body of work. He hasn't started all that many games and is still very raw in many respects. Obviously Jones believes he can be polished into a starter. I think he will be able to at least provide some quality competition for our interior guys but is most likely destined to be our 6th OL being groomed to start in year 2. But his ability to back-up at tackle is huge that regard. There's certainly risk in this pick but I think worth it.
3rd Rd (24) - DB Elie Bouka - Would likely have been a 1st round pick if not for an achilles injury derailing his final CIS season and the fact that he signed with the Arizona Cardinals. If/when he shows up we will get the impact DB/safety that we desperately need. Given that Arizona was willing to sign him coming off of an achilles injury it tells you just how talented this guy is and just how little concern they have for his ability to return from the injury. We may have to wait until September or even next year but I think we will eventually look back on this pick a huge value for the late third round.
3rd Rd (26) K Quinn Van Gylswyk - Other than his last name lacking in non-y vowels, I don't mind this pick. I could argue that we had bigger needs than a kicker but the reality is as much as I have faith in Crapigna he is far from a proven commodity. Also Van Gylswyk can punt and I have made my dislike for Josh Bartel as overt as Rod Black's love for him. John Murphy build the best kicking combo in the league in Paredes/Maver. Looks like he is trying to do the same here. A good kicker probably impacts our season a lot more than a back-up Canadian anyway.
4th Rd (35) DL David Oneymata - This pick is a lottery ticket. Odds are good that Oneymata won't be seen in the CFL for many years if ever given him being a 4th round pick of the Saints. But if he ever comes back north, its a massive jackpot for us. It's hard to argue with Jones' willingness to risk it given the general quality of players you get in the 4th round. I would say likely scenario is similar to that of Vaughn Martin who the Als drafted in 2011 and finally signed to the CFL this year. If Jones was solely concerned with this season then this was a stupid pick but its obvious with picks like this and Bouka that we are trying to build a long term pipeline of top end Cdn talent, something I have been wishing for a few years now.
5th Rd (36) LB Alex Ogbongbemigba - Good luck both pronouncing his name and fitting it on a jersey. LB was a big need for us this season and hopefully him and fellow ridiculous last name Rider Kankolongo can manage things for us this year.
6th Rd (52) OL Alex McKay - Let's be honest a 6th rd OL is likely a future training camp casualty but you need competition and depth at OL so its something we needed to do. McKay was the top rated OL in this CIS west so there's at least some potential there.
8th Rd (62) WR Joshua Stanford - I would say million dollar talent and 10 cent brain but this is the CFL so its more like a thousand dollar talent... the brain part remains valid. Stanford would likely have been viewed as one of the top WR in the draft if it were based purely on talent. But his attitude and work ethic are somewhere slightly above atrocious. He half assed the CFL combine and no-showed on many interviews and showed up to others with his hood up. If someone can get his straightened out he may have a future in this league but for now it seems Stanford could care less that he's pissing away his pro opportunities. This is another example of Jones swinging for the fences but in the 8th round I'd way rather take a huge risk on big upside than settle for some guy with no chance of developing into a pro.