Pedersen: Riders Draft intentions point to the here and now
Barring a trade, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will have the fourth-overall pick in Monday’s 2013 CFL Canadian College Draft. The team has been pretty coy with regards to their plans but General Manager Brendan Taman tipped us off a bit this week when he said they hope to have that first-round pick in training camp come June in Saskatoon.
That means U of R Rams defensive lineman Stefan Charles likely won’t hear his name called by Saskatchewan due to the fact he signed a tryout agreement with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans last weekend. His focus will now be on the NFL, and won’t be available to the CFL this summer.
Either way, the Riders will get a quality player with their selection and you’d expect he’ll be a starter somewhere down the road. It’s a big change from last year, when the Riders owned the #1 pick and selected U of S offensive lineman Ben Heenan from Grand Coulee, Saskatchewan. Would the Riders like to be picking #1 again?
“No I wouldn’t want to be #1!,” Rider head coach Corey Chamblin laughed on CKRM radio. “That means that we would have been last!”
Indeed. That honour belongs to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013.
So rather than going into the draft knowing who they’ll get, the Riders will be forced to do some juggling at the draft table come Monday. So where does Stefan Charles fit into their plans?
“There’s an interest in Stefan Charles because when he turns it on, he’s probably one of the best players in the draft,” Chamblin explained.
Since the Riders have gone on record saying they’d prefer not to wait on an NFL prospect, then it’s possible they’ll turn their attention to Charles’ Rams teammate Brett Jones who’s rated as the top lineman in Canada West. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have enough quality Canadian offensive linemen”.
“That’s absolutely true,” Chamblin continued. “I’ve been on enough teams in this league that I know you want to have the offensive line covered. There’s a couple of guys there that are rated pretty high, that are pretty good, and Jones is one of them.”
At draft time, no matter what the league, you hear a lot of talk about teams identifying a specific need by position going into the draft versus picking the best available player when it comes to their selection. Chamblin says that’s just a lot of talk.
“I think you say one thing then once the picture gets more clear you say it’s 100% whether it’s a need or the best player,” Chamblin explained. “I think right now, for us, it may be a need. But as the draft goes along and that ‘need’ player is in the NFL, it goes to the best player available. I think you really can’t make an honest decision in the CFL until after the NFL Draft.”
TSN’s Duane Forde, a former Canadian fullback for Calgary and Hamilton, is the undisputed CFL draft expert these days. So much so, that I call him “Canada’s Mel Kiper”. He habitually nails the draft each year and has a feeling which way the Riders may go at #4.
“A lot can happen between now and the draft because teams are still making decisions,” Forde said on CKRM. “One of the guys who has a potential fit for Saskatchewan is a guy like University of Calgary linebacker Mike Edem. He played linebacker for Calgary last year, prior to that as a defensive back.
“He’s what you’d call a hybrid. I think Mike’s position in the Canadian Football League is ultimately going to be as a free safety but he’s one of the best athletes in this draft. Edem, to me, based on the skillset Corey Chamblin would like, if Craig Butler gets a shot at free safety this year, it’s an interesting fit as a player. He’s one of the names to watch for at #4.”
Last year at this time, as we mentioned, the Riders took Heenan first overall and we asked Corey if that pick was a slam-dunk going into draft day.
“I think it was one of those, I don’t want to say 50/50, but receiver Shawmad Chambers was high for us also,” Chamblin said. “He was pretty much one of those ‘best’ players but the best fit was the O-lineman and Ben was just that. It ended up being a big need for us because we had one or two guys who went down during the season and they flip-flopped at guard all year.”
Certainly the Riders didn’t expect when they selected Heenan that he’d be starting at right guard in Week 1 at Hamilton last year!
“Nope, you don’t want those young guys playing but one thing you’re excited about is it was a good draft pick for us and he did a good job for us as a rookie,” Chamblin said.
As far as Forde is concerned, Calgary Dinos defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh will be picked first by Hamilton come Monday. After that, who knows? He says it’s a different draft pool from other years.
“Better at some positions than others,” Forde observed. “Historically you look at the prime Canadian starting positions, and you evaluate by depth at O-line and receivers, and it’s not as strong as some other drafts. But as a whole, there will be some value when you get into later rounds. But there may not be as many high-end guys as you might of anticipated. And the NFL has factored into that.”
We’ll know shortly. And if you’re asking for my opinion, I expect Saskatchewan will in fact take Brett Jones. That’s without any inside knowledge but given his position and local status (he’s from Weyburn), he’d be a perfect fit for the Green & White.