Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters says the team’s Canadian depth has improved to the point, where for the first time in several years, the Blue and Gold war room will be focused on taking the best player available with their first pick in the CFL Draft set to start shortly after 6 p.m. CDT on Tuesday evening.
Because Winnipeg selected DB Garrett Waggoner in last year’s Supplemental Draft, the Bombers forfeited their first round pick for 2016. But as a result of the Chris Greaves trade with Edmonton last season, Winnipeg will have the first two selections of the second round with the 9th and 10th overall picks.
“When you look at the board, we’re going to get two good football players. I just don’t know what position,” Walters told a media gathering Friday Morning during his final availability session prior to Tuesday Night’s Draft. “That’s a little bit different from the draft last year where I stood here and said, yeah we’re taking an O Lineman. It’s a done deal. We’ll see which one.”
That #2 overall pick turned out to be Calgary Dinosaurs Sukh Chungh. But the second year Right Guard is only one of four Canadian O Linemen under contract to Winnipeg heading into Training Camp, so unless that scenario was to change before Tuesday, it would appear as though there is still a need. And there 6 players at that position ranked among the top twenty prospects.
Oklahoma State’s Josiah St. John of Pickering, Ontario could well become the #1 overall pick by Saskatchewan, unless Roughriders Coach and GM Chris Jones finds a trading partner he has reportedly been seeking.
St. John’s rise up the draft board could be a result of the four players rated ahead of him all headed to the NFL.
Happy to let everyone know I'm going to be a Dallas Cowboy!!!!— Arjen Colquhoun (@thecanuck36) April 30, 2016
Walters says he and his peers were prepared for Onyemata to be taken out of the picture. But everyone has been forced to “audible” their draft boards because of the impact of the signings of the other three Priority Free Agents. “When you’re talking about 20 kids, and about a quarter of them now, you have to be tag that, I don’t know when we’re going to see them. It certainly challenges the big picture thinking of where you rank guys,” said Walters. “Our initial ranking before all of this, it looks substantially different.”
Who knows what the trickle down effect will be on the rest of the pecking order. Unlike the other top prospects headed to mini camps this weekend, and whose status will be known by Monday before the draft, Smith-Abdesmad- and Colquhoun will remain question marks until at least sometime in August when NFL Main Camps start to reduce their rosters.
So if Winnipeg gets to round five or six of the draft, expanded earlier this week to eight rounds, would Walters risk a late round selection on Onyemata if the Bison Defensive Lineman was still not taken? “Yeah for sure, David will get drafted,” was Walter’s response. “David will be given every opportunity to make the New Orleans Saints, being a draft pick. So now, not only are you not going to see him in September. Are you going to see him in three years, or four years, or ever. Do you take the next guy who we really don’t think has a shot? Then we might as well take David Onyemata with an outside possibility.”