Morris: Anticipation mounting at BC headquarters | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

The 2013 Expansion Draft to stock the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ roster will be held Monday, but for the BC Lions the process to determine which players to protect began at training camp two seasons ago.

“The process of who you were going to protect started in 2012,” said Wally Buono, the Lions’ general manager and vice-president of football operations.

Mock Protection List

Jim Morris says that picking which quarterback to protect is a no-brainer.  However, with a veteran but aging secondary, which imports should be kept off the Ottawa REDBLACKS's list?

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“2013, I don’t want to say verified some things, maybe altered slightly some other things.”

Head coach Mike Benevides said the final decisions were based on what would make the Lions a better team in 2014, especially with BC Place Stadium hosting the 102nd Grey Cup game next November.

Things like a player’s age, contract situation and development were all factored into the decision.

“You have to take a look and base it on what you want,” said Benevides.

“Where you see the team going, where they (the players) are in their careers, all those things were factors. The biggest one was, where do you see the team next year because you are trying to put things in place.”

The Lions finished 2013 third in the West. They held a nine-point lead in the Western Semi-Final before losing 29-25 to the eventual Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders.

When planning for the Expansion Draft, deciding on your own team’s needs makes the most sense because trying to get into the heads of Ottawa general manager Marcel Desjardins and head coach Rick Campbell is too much of a gamble.

“You could miscalculate on what they are thinking, what they might do, how they might approach contracts or age,” said Benevides.

“You have to look at yourself and say I’m going with this list because this is what I believe in.”

The Draft will last three rounds. During the first round the REDBLACKS can select eight import players, one from each team. Ottawa can then take eight non-import players, one from each team, in the second and third rounds.

Each CFL team has submitted a list of protected players. They could initially protect one quarterback, six non-imports and 10 imports. After the first non-import round, an additional six home-grown players can be protected. Each team can only lose three players.

The process is complicated because each team’s list of protected players is secret. Only the REDBLACKS know which players are available.

The different philosophies of coaches, and the kind of players they like, also comes into play.

“You don’t know who is available to them,” said Buono. “If you look at it from the perspective of the imports, what do they you want in an import?

“Do you want the best player, do you want the best player that gives you leadership? I’m not building that team. I know if I was building that team I would have certain criteria.”

While talent is a cornerstone, factors like past injuries, future potential and personality also influence who to protect.

Veteran right guard Dean Valli said he’d retire if Ottawa drafted him.  Do you protect centre Angus Reid even though he’s 37 years old and missed all last season with a back injury?

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Running back Stefan Logan may be 32, but the Lions’ ground attack didn’t find legs until he arrived late in the year. Do you gamble losing him? Does second-round draft pick S. J. Haidara have more potential than the talent wide receiver Shawn Gore has already shown?

“When you go into a draft everybody has a different approach, everybody has a different philosophy,” said Benevides. “I don’t think anybody truly knows what Ottawa is thinking from a philosophical approach.

“You make decisions based on what you believe, go with your instinct, go with what you believe in. We are making decisions for tomorrow. I have no idea what they are going to do. I can’t worry about it. We don’t control it.”

Benevides smiled when asked if there are any surprises on the Lions’ protected list.

“There is always going to be a situation where people will always be surprised,” he said. “It’s about opinions. Every single person always has a different opinion.”

The only certainty for BC is the team will lose three players.

“Do we want to lose any players, no,” said Buono. “Unfortunately we don’t have a choice.

“We are put in a position where we have to make choices. Not everybody is going to agree with our choices. At the end of the day, we as a collective group, feel these are the players we want to make sure we don’t lose.”

Buono shrugged when asked if he knows who he will lose.

“I can guess,” he said.

Benevides said waiting for the draft has been a little bit like trying to guess what’s in that big parcel under the Christmas tree.

“There is going to be a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement,” he said. “We’ll see exactly where it goes. It will be kind of strange waiting for that list to see who they selected. It’s different.

“You make the decisions you believe in, how it’s going to help us move forward next year. After that you just kind of leave it.”

About Jim
Jim Morris has spent over 30 years working as a journalist, mostly with The Canadian Press. He has covered the CFL in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver, where he now lives. Follow Jim on Twitter @jememorris
Fan Comments
als rule
wallyworld leaves benevides unprotected and ottawa selects him and all the leos fans CHEER!!
December 15, 2013 - 9:30pm
That would have been excellent but unfortunately Benevides stayed. I still believe DeMarco and Benevides´ stubbornness cost the Lions a trip to the GC. Ottawa better hope Glen stays healthy otherwise with DeMarco they will be last.
December 17, 2013 - 8:25pm
"They could initially protect one quarterback, six non-important and 10 imports."

So each team has to protect 6 players they don't really care about?
December 14, 2013 - 3:15pm
als rule
@G: what's this could business?!! it's a FACT!! 6 players they don't care about WHAT?!! explain?!!
December 15, 2013 - 1:08pm
I don´t agree with this way of "leeching" teams for their players. It weakens the other teams and lowers quality.
December 13, 2013 - 9:50pm
It does suck that each team loses a bit of talent but without being able to get some sort of veterans it would be nearly impossible to have any sort of competitive team in Ottawa. Don't worry LionsWhiskers BC won't be missing much when it's all said and done.
December 14, 2013 - 10:42am
als rule
@LW/T13: "leeching, weakens and lowers quality" is 100% totally false!! sad that a fan is so negative on the league growing!! ottawa paid the CFL big money to enter the league and how much was B.C.'s cut? if the lions can't over come losing 3 players than I guess they weren't that powerful to begin with!!
December 15, 2013 - 9:05pm
Each team will lose only a maximum of 3 players....that clears things up nicely, and is a recoverable number for any team. Lets see what the 'Ottawa Sawblades' have up their collective sleeve!! Time to make some homemade Campbell soup hey Rick!!!
December 13, 2013 - 9:16pm
Christmas comes early this season for the REDBLACKS but it certainly won't be fun for the other eight teams!
December 13, 2013 - 2:43pm