We’re here… Draft Day 2012, May 3rd.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are on the clock when the draft kicks off at 3:00 PM ET on TSN. At least, that’s the way things are shaping up at the moment. Whether the Riders will be able to pull off a deal to move back in the draft or not remains to be seen.
If they do keep the pick, it sounds like it will be University of Saskatchewan offensive lineman Ben Heenan that will be the first overall pick. Heenan, the homegrown talent who was born in Regina would become an instant fan favourite the moment his name was called.
It really has become a matter of three things for the Roughriders and the number one overall selection. If it is not Heenan, it will be Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers having his name called by the green and white. Chambers impressed scouts and coaches alike with his gaudy stats at the CFL evaluation camp in March. Chambers ran a 4.42 40 time at the camp and given his height (6’3″), he could be a damaging weapon for the Riders offence.
The other option would be the aforementioned trade. Riders GM Brendan Taman says that there have been talks and potential offers for the pick, but nothing that involves the return that he is looking for. Taman was reportedly searching for two first round picks and a Canadian starter in return for the number one selection.
That asking price may not be too far off the map, considering Taman had to pay two first round picks and a starter to select Shomari Williams first overall in 2010. That starter for the Riders was punter Jamie Boreham, who became expendable for the club anyways. In that trade, the Riders also got the eighth overall pick, which was the first pick of the second round. Considering the Riders don’t pick again until 15 (3rd round), they don’t have the same luxury that the Argos had in bartering.
Eskimos GM Eric Tillman was the most public in the chase for the first overall pick. However, Tillman pulled out of the race claiming the Riders asking price was too high. Tillman though, supposedly was not willing to give up the 2nd overall pick, which is what Taman would have wanted to complete the deal.
It would make sense that the asking price would be higher if Tillman was unwilling to relinquish the 2nd overall pick to Saskatchewan.
So, what does the day have in store on Thursday? When you look at the draft board, it is a fairly deep draft overall. You have to go down the list a little bit at each position before the talent starts to fall off. At the end of the day that may leave some questionable undrafted players, but that’s part of having such a competitive draft board.
Another question will be what happens with the NFL players. If the Riders pass on Chambers, will he fall down a little bit? The Laurier product is attending mini-camp with the Philadelphia Eagles next week, and if he were to receive an offer to training camp, he would not put on a CFL jersey until at least mid to late August.
Tyrone Crawford, the top overall ranked player for the CFL draft was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. If Crawford’s stock is anything like Orlando Franklin’s was last season, Crawford may not even be drafted on Thursday. Franklin was a 2nd round pick of the Denver Broncos, and no CFL team took him in last year’s Canadian draft because of that.
Christo Bilukidi was also drafted. He went to the Oakland Raiders. Bilukidi though, was a 6th round draft pick. Still, a 6th round pick is still being drafted, which means the team has an obvious interest in the player. Bilukidi may become available, but it would be rather stunning if it was anytime before September.
Another top defensive line prospect, Bo Adebayo will be attending mini-camp with the Detroit Lions. Adebayo could possibly turn up in the CFL later this year, but the question will be when?
Austin Pasztor, the overall top offensive line prospect for the CFL Draft was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Again, proof that there is interest there. Pasztor should make it to training camp and may have a shot to stick on a practice roster. Will the fact that he wasn’t drafted, but rather just signed to a contract change his draft stock?
The biggest advantage to having several picks in the CFL, or having superb depth is being able to take risks. Calgary has a league high nine draft picks this year. Given that fact, will they possibly look to taking one of the NFL players? Montreal has also been known for their draft strategy of taking players regardless of their status.