CFL Pass

CFL Draft news roundup: Everyone wants an offensive lineman

On the eve of the CFL Draft, what are the home markets thinking? CFLpass presents a roundup of local media coverage on the big day for Canadian prospects – with a certain motif indicating a few management teams may be disappointed.

The Vancouver Sun is today running a nice long piece about NFL minicamps and the ultimate effects on a borderline player’s CFL draft status, though little on the ways in which the BC Lions brain trust will be thinking tomorrow.

Important info is dropped by writer Mike Beamish in the piece on a few Canadian prospects looking to crack an NFL roster, however, particularly Rice DT Christian Covington. Ridley Scouting is quoted as stating, “I think his chances with [the Houston Texans] are pretty good.”

The book on story centerpiece Lemar Durant of Simon Fraser University, one of 11 Canadian/CFL players at the New York Giants rookie minicamp, is unfortunately a tad terse, with a Giants exec offers no comment on Durant’s chances.

The Hamilton Spectator, meanwhile, does some nice logical guesswork vis-à-vis the Tiger-Cats’ possibilities in round one. Writer Drew Edwards reckons that the “Ticats may look to go big at the CFL draft” but, that, with a relative paucity of quality offensive linemen likely to be available after round one, “The Ticats may well need to use that first round pick if they want to nab [an OL]. It may be time to break the streak and get back to taking some big boys who can push the pile.”

The streak to which Edwards refers comes back to his excellent lead pointing out that in two years as Hamilton general manager Kent Austin “has never drafted an offensive lineman.”

This morning’s Calgary Herald figures fairly certainly that the defending champion Calgary Stampeders are going for offensive linemen early as well. And with an embarrassment of riches at their disposal – namely, five picks in the first three rounds – the Stamps can actually afford to look in many areas.

Writer Rita Mingo quotes Stampeders scout Brendan Mahoney as musing that “also the skill positions are pretty interesting at receiver and at running back. … there’s Shaquille Murray-Lawrence from UNLV and Dillon Campbell from Laurier who are capable backs [that] could have a future in the CFL.”

Further, “And also you get into the D-line position. … the most players that you’ll see go in the later rounds are the linebackers; there’s a lot of good linebacker body types in this draft.”

In any case, right now they’re cool in Calgary. Says Mahoney: “I’ve looked at the top 27 and we’re going to be happy with the five guys we get out of those guys.”

Meanwhile, in Edmonton Eskimos land, guess what position the team’s thinking about. Writes Chris O’Leary of the Edmonton Journal: “The main position Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey has spoken about this off-season is the offensive line, whether it’s as a priority in free agency or a target in the draft.”

Ridley Scouting is again called upon in speculating on the Eskimos’ first pick or two; opines Ridley, “I know a lot of the mock drafts have them going with [Wilfrid Laurier University DB] Chris Ackie, but I really feel like a guy like Sukh Chungh or Sean McEwen would be a really nice addition. If they don’t crack the roster this year, they’re not that far away. [Either] could be a guy who come September is ready to be the backup regularly.”

Wayne Scanlon of the Ottawa Citizen couldn’t get any concrete details on plans for the Ottawa Redblacks’ no. 1 overall pick and subsequent selections from team GM Marcel Desjardins, but we do know a couple of tactics the Redblacks definitively will *not* employ in this CFL draft.

First, “there is close to zero chance — ‘highly unlikely’ — [Desjardins] will trade the selection.” Second, “We wouldn’t want to take a chance on [an] NFL guy.”

Scanlon’s piece notes that “Two local players are high on the CFL scouting bureau list, and figure in Ottawa’s plans.” (Can you guess what’s coming here?)

“Danny Groulx of Gatineau, a 6-6, 325-pound offensive tackle from Laval University would look very good in a Redblacks uniform. Groulx is one of several Canadian prospects attending the weekend camp of the NFL New York Giants. Groulx is the top-ranked CIS player, and fifth overall, heading into the draft.

“The other local possibility is Ottawa’s Alex Mateas, a 6-4, 309-pound centre from the University of Connecticut. Mateas, ranked third overall, is scheduled to attend a New York Jets mini-camp this weekend…”

Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press puts forth a scintillating possibility for his Blue Bombers, picking at no. 2 overall: “What if the club went against the common thinking here and grabbed a receiver, especially one as talented as Nic Demski, the University of Manitoba/Oak Park High School product who has grown up right in their own back yard? Wouldn't that fill a need as well?”

Tait does admit, though, that “The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will call out the second name in Tuesday's CFL Canadian Draft and the safe pick – the always easy pick – is to select a homegrown offensive lineman big enough to double as a grain silo.

“Depending on who the Ottawa Redblacks take first overall, any one of Sukh Chungh, Sean McEwan, Alex Mateas (of University of Connecticut) or Danny Groulx (Laval University) would be a good fit along the Bomber O-line.”

Okay, look. Clearly not every team can take an offensive lineman in the first round, right? So let’s go to a couple of mock drafts to get a hint of who may be, apparently, disappointed.

Garry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Sun reminds that his ‘paper produced a CFL mock draft for 2014 that nailed 10 of the first 11 choices, so CFLpass will definitely consult with his ’15 edition. Ubiquitous CFL.ca reporter Justin Dunk filed what he promised was his final mock CFL draft for 2015 last Thursday and – despite a few signings made since then – we’ll run with that one as well.

Collectively, Moddejonge and Dunk have taken much of the mystery out of the first round, agreeing on five of the top seven selections. Both like – go head, take a wild guess – the top four to be OLmen Groulx, Chungh, Mateas and Jacob Ruby to Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, respectively. And both have DB/LB Chris Ackie of Wilfred Laurier landing in Edmonton at no. 7.

At no. 5, Dunk stays with “the safe pick,” liking Sean McEwen for BC; more interestingly, Moddejonge has the Lions taking the top “skill player” around, Durant. Durant goes to the Stamps to close out round one in Dunk’s mock. Moddejonge then proceeds to get delightfully wacky, gambling on the Blue Bombers finagling a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to land Demski at no. 6. (Ah, Winnipeg media would be proud!) The again more-conservative Dunk gives LB Byron Archambault – really nice fit here – to Saskatachewan.

By the time the Tiger-Cats are on the virtual mic at no. 8, the two mock drafts have completely diverged. The skill-player pick would appear to be WR Addison Richards (as Moddejonge posits) or Hamilton could go with a good ol’ lineman such as Karl Lavoie (so says Dunk).

Finally, could DT Daryl Waud really drop out of the first round in the OL craze? Dunk thinks so, but Moddejonge has him hanging in there to go to Calgary at no. 9.

Right, then. Now, we may take all the speculation, figure that even the most inside of local journos probably knows 20% to 30% of the “war room” mentality, and enjoy pondering for the next 24 hours or so.

A different CFL draft from Brad Wall on Vimeo.