Leading up to the 2008 CFL Canadian Draft, the buzz was all
about how deep the draft class was this year. Aside from some speculation over where NFL signees Samuel
Giguere, Keith Shologan, and Rolly Lumbala would fall in the draft order due to
their prospects south of the border, there was definitely a consensus amongst
draft gurus that the lists of legitimate talents were five deep at every
While it’s certainly not scientific, one indicator of the depth
of a draft pool is how quickly a jaw-dropping reach, like the Eskimos choosing
kicker Warren Kean with the second overall pick in 2007, shows up on the
board. This year it could be
argued that reach never occurred.
Sure, there were several instances of teams logging
“futures” picks on players with eligibility remaining, or on players with NFL
opportunities. But for the most
part, the board filled up as it was expected to.
Any quibbling would have to be over slight deviations in the
order of the picks, like Calgary’s choice of Fernand Kashama with the 16th
pick when higher-rated rush ends were available. However, those calls really came down to matters of taste
So, who pulled off the top picks, and who caused the most
surprises? Here’s a quick look at
my read on the draft.
Dylan Barker, Safety (1st overall to Hamilton)—the
perfect conflation of need and best available for the Ticats; Barker has size,
speed, and a high football I.Q.
Shea Emry, Linebacker (7th overall to Montreal)—sideline
to sideline middle backer blessed with great athleticism; Emry is ready right
now to make an impact on special teams and may push for playing time at LB.
Dimitri Tsoumpas, Offensive Lineman (2nd overall to Calgary
via trade from Edmonton)—cost the Stampeders John Comisky and Kevin Challenger in the trade, but should be well worth it; Tsoumpas is probably the
player most physically prepared to play in the CFL right out of the
draft, a great technician with good feet and power.
Jean-Nicolas Carriere, Linebacker (21st overall to
Toronto)—great value in the middle of the third round for a player
perfectly suited to play in the Argos’ system; Carriere is lightning-fast with
good instincts and should be a monster on special teams right away.
Sammy Okpro and Jonathan Hood, Defensive Backs (25th and 26th
overall to Edmonton)—two gifted young DBs who should be able to inject
speed and youth into the Eskimos secondary; Okpro is a three-time All-Canadian
with good quickness and play-making ability; Hood is sticky in coverage and
very athletic; both should play in the league for quite a while.
WAIT-AND-SEES AND SURPRISES
It will be interesting to see what impact (if any) Shologan,
Giguere, and Lumbala have in the CFL in 2008. With all three having chances at NFL camps this summer, it’s
likely Saskatchewan, Hamilton, and B.C. will have to wait until August to get
their hands on any of these players.
All three are worth the draft gamble, though.
Drafting red-shirt juniors with eligibility remaining is
always a wait-and-see proposition, especially when those players are projected
as NFL draft picks, too. Both B.C.
and Montreal took flyers on high-quality offensive linemen (Justin Sorensen and
Andrew Woodruff respectively) who have their senior years in the NCAA left, and
who are on the NFL’s radar. If
either of these players dress in the CFL in the next three years, I’ll be
shocked. Again, they’re well worth
the gamble, though.
Edmonton trading out of the first round and then using their
second round pick on a “futures” player (Greg Wojt, Offensive Lineman) was a
mild surprise, especially considering the Eskimos could use Canadian talent all
over their roster now.
The back end of that first-round trade with Edmonton was a
mild surprise, too. Calgary paid a
steep price to trade up for the right to choose Tsoumpas (two players and two
picks). There’s no doubt it’s a
solid pick, but it may take a while to judge the value of the trade.
The biggest surprise of the draft for me was Jerome Messam
falling completely off the board.
Projected by many as the second-best running back available, Messam went
untouched. Off-field issues forced
him to play at tiny Graceland College, and it seems like that may have chased
teams off the talented player in the CFL draft as well.
With a little over a month to wait before training camps
open around the league, there’s plenty of time to debate draft grades for the
2008 CFL Canadian Draft. No doubt
there are as many opinions on which teams were winners and which were losers as
there are fans debating the issue.
As they say, though, only time will tell how successful a day it was.