Friday, April 21, 2017

CFL Draft 2017 Team Preview: Toronto Argonauts

Toronto will have to sit out the first round as their hard earned 1st overall pick goes to Winnipeg thanks to the infamous Drew Willy trade. I still can’t fathom how at any point (even if alcohol was involved) that ever seemed like a good trade for Jim Barker. Did Kyle Walters have some blackmail material on him? Barker's replacement Jim Popp will now be making the picks (ironically he also traded a first round pick away with his previous employer).
Picks: 6 picks, first selection is 10th Overall

2016 Draft Assessment: Mostly a lot of depth additions like O-linemen Jamall Campbell and DJ Sackey (who really missed his calling in life as a D-lineman, best name ever!). The success/failure of this draft is really tied to the 2 receivers Barker selected: Brian Jones (1st round) and Llevi Noel (4th round). When he cut his entire receiver corp late last season (bold strategy), Barker was confident these 2 could step in as replacements. Count me among those skeptical about this strategy. Remains to be seen if the new regime is as high on Jones as Barker was… especially given that Popp didn’t make Cdn WRs much of a priority in Montreal.

Potential Pipeline: TE Luke Wilson (Seattle)

Current Strengths: Starts up front where Popp now has the ability to start an all Cdn O-line like he had in Montreal. Perrett and Van Zeyl at tackle. Holmes, McEwen and Deane inside. Plus a ton of depth behind them (Dyakowski, Smith, Watman, Campbell, Sakey). Of note are the young guys like Holmes and McEwen which bodes well for the future. Jermaine Gabriel is a quality safety and they have Black and Webster for depth. Anthony Coombs can be a playmaker (particularly if Ray is the QB). Hajrullahu had a bounce back season and proved to be a quality kicker (given how terrible the Argos were he had ample opportunity to prove it).

Current Needs: Their glut of OL assets leaves them free to target other areas (a luxury not shared by many teams). Defense would be the logical place for them to start. At DL they have Daryl Waud (12th overall pick in 2015) but limited depth behind him if they want to push him as a starter (which they may choose to do for ratio reasons). They don’t really have much in terms of Cdn LBs which could impact on their special teams play. I expect Coombs to be heavily involved in the offense and so the departure of Andre Durie leaves a need for some depth at RB.

Prediction: Based on need and what’s likely to be available come the second round, the Argos are likely to take a DL with their first pick (whichever of Faith Ekakite, Junior Luke or Kwaku Boateng is still there). Keep in mind though that Jim Popp is now calling the shots so one of his early picks will be a headscratcher from that no one saw coming. My bet is a fullback. Also, because Popp has never shied away from taking players he has to wait on, I could see Popp taking a flyer on guys like Justin Senior, Anthony Auclair or Geoff Gray (depending on how NFL interest in him pans out).

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