Tomorrow the CFL Draft goes down. If you are new to the CFL Draft a few things to keep in mind… particularly if you just watched the NFL Draft. The CFL Draft is as much like the NFL Draft as a rusted Chevy Cavalier is like a Lamborghini. I mean sure both are technically cars but there are a few features that differ.
The two main things that differentiate the CFL draft are based around the concepts of availability and projected use.
Availability is the big one. The NFL tends not to worry about this concept as anyone with football dreams can be expected to report to the NFL team that drafts them. Hence, the NFL drafts the best player at each position first. CFL is about the best player “available to report”. So for example, the best 2 o-linemen in this draft are Matthew Bergeron and Sidy Sow. But they will not be the first drafted. In fact, it is likely Bergeron goes undrafted because he just went in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. That means he won’t be coming to the CFL for minimum 3 years if ever. Sow was a 4th round pick so maybe a team uses a 7th or 8th round pick just in case he ever does come north. Or you could use the Chris Jones approach of using a 4th round pick on an NFL draft pick like David Oneymata when he could have gotten a player with equal impact on the Riders by drafting a bottle of ketchup. So suddenly a guy like Dontae Bull jumps up draft boards not because he is the best Canadian OL but he is the best one who is likely to be in training camp later this month.
Projected use is the other. As much as there are ratio breaking exceptions, by and large CFL teams still exclusively play Canadians at OL, WR, Safety, token LB and token DL. QBs have little to no value. As much as I’d like to think the Nathan Rourke experience will change that, we are a long ways away from any major changes. Prior to Rourke, there has been an endless string of Michael O’Connors, Brandon Bridges and Andrew Buckleys. We can debate the reasons for this another time but odds are overwhelmingly good that taking a QB in the CFL draft will not impact your franchise, other than short term PR.
So where does this all leave the Riders heading into the draft? In my humble opinion (keeping in mind I am by no means a football scout, just some dude who’s been writing about the draft since the day of MySpace), there are only 2 scenarios that can be considered a draft success for the Riders.
1 – Draft OL Dontae Bull in the first round and an impact DL or LB in the
Scenario 2 – Draft an impact DL or LB in the first round and hope to get OL Phillip Grohovac in the second.
It’s really that simple. Our OL has been garbage for 2 years. This draft is thin on OL worthy of a top 10 pick. So if you are serious about building a line for sustained success you need to prioritize getting one of Bull or Grohovac. Depth behind Teitz is almost non-existent and other than Dabire we don’t really have a Cdn DL. So that’s priority number 2.
I realize that in a draft/league this small drafting for purely for position and ignoring the “best player available” is not a great strategy. But the reverse is also true. If, of I don’t know, let’s take a purely hypothetical example and say, a GM kept drafting receivers because they were the “best available” but not something we actually needed, that may have some negative consequences on other parts of the team… in theory.
I think it’s likely that one of OL Dontae Bull or DL Lwal Uguak are available at #3 when we pick. I think those should be our priorities in that order. Now, O’Day cares about as much for my opinion as the Bombers care for following the salary cap so I expect the 2022 trend of “expecting to be disappointed to continue”.
you are wondering, yes, I am always this bright and cheery on a Monday morning.