April 26, 2012

Eskimos look to take advantage of a deep draft

Dave Campbell

The name of the league is the Canadian Football League, emphasis on the word Canadian.  If you don’t have good Canadian content then you’re likely not going to have success.  It all starts with the CFL Canadian College Draft on May 3rd.  Teams spend months compiling their lists and identifying the best players available.  Some drafts are really good, some are just average.
Head Coach Kavis Reed feels the 2012 crop of talent is very deep. “It’s a very deep draft from top to bottom; we won’t have any problems coming up with a list of 48 names that will allow us to get through to the entire draft.”

There are about 435 total eligible players for the draft and the process of whittling down that list, according to Reed, began in October.  The list gets reduced to the 60 best names in between E-camp and the draft itself.  Reed says the Eskimos have gone through four or five mock drafts and already have a good idea of who they’ll pick.  

Like last season, the Eskimos hold two first round draft picks.  Thanks to the Ricky Ray trade back in December, the Eskimos acquired the second overall pick from the Toronto Argonauts.  The Esks also have the sixth overall selection.

Last season, they held the second overall pick and drafted offensive lineman Scott Mitchell.  General Manager Eric Tillman traded for the fifth overall pick and selected receiver Nate Coehoorn.   Kavis Reed feels the Eskimos need to make their two picks count in the first round, especially since one of the picks is related to the Eskimos’ former franchise player.

“The pick that we make at number two will be forever tied to Ricky Ray.  Not for that reason alone, but it’s a very important pick for this franchise,” Reed explained.  “We’ve done our homework very deliberately; we’ve made certain that we’ve identified three individuals that we feel we can’t miss on.  We’re confident that the person we get is going to be someone who can contribute to this organization for a long time, barring injuries.”

Who those three players are is anybody’s guess.  Saskatchewan offensive lineman Ben Heenan is ranked at number two, according to the latest Scouting Bureau list.  Fellow O-lineman Austin Pasztor out of Virginia is listed at four.  Laval linebacker Frederic Plesius is ranked at number five.  Three defensive ends are in the top-eight, including Boise State’s Tyron Crawford at number one.  Is it likely the Eskimos trade up to the number one spot or from number six?  The answer to both is yes, for the right deal of course.  It looked like Wilfred Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers would be a sure choice for the Esks, but the signings of Matt Carter and Aaron Hargreaves might make Chambers less attractive.   

The classic draft question always is: Do you draft by need or the best player available?  Reed says that depends on a number of factors.

“The way that question is going to be answered is what happens in the NFL draft and what Saskatchewan does with the first overall pick,” Reed said.  “It’s going to be one of those situations where we’re always going to look at the offensive line; we’re always going to look at the defensive line.  Saskatchewan obviously holds the keys to the car.  The NFL draft is coming up and it may change the outlook.  If the guys are not available that we’ve targeted then it’s going to be best player available.”

Whoever the Eskimos pick in the first round, don’t expect those players to make an impact in 2012.  It took offensive lineman Gord Hinse over three seasons before he made his first ever CFL start at centre last season.  Scott Mitchell is still a ways away. Nate Coehoorn on the other hand may very well supplement  Andrew Nowacki  in the starting receiving corps.

So far the Eskimos have no selection in the second round.  They have one selection in the third round, nothing in the fourth round, one in the fifth round, and none in the sixth round.  In total, the Eskimos have four picks overall, putting major emphasis on the two picks in the first round.  

Last year, Tillman made a deal to acquire another first round pick and a second round pick.  You know never know what he has up his sleeve.  Given this year’s draft is supposed to be very deep,  don’t be surprised if Tillman will attempt to steal the show once again this year.