May 15, 2014

Campbell: Esks look for offensive punch on Draft day

The only good news coming from a season where you finish out of the post-season is that you are given a chance to select a pretty good Canadian in over five months time.

After a one-year absence from the first round, the Eskimos made their return, starting the day with the third overall selection.

In a wild first round, which included the Ottawa REDBLACKS trading their first overall pick to the Calgary Stampeders and quarterback Kevin Glenn to the BC. Lions for the fifth overall selection, the Eskimos made some noise by trading their third and 21st overall pick, plus the rights to a negotiation list player, to the Toronto Argonauts for their 6th and 15th picks, offensive lineman Tony Washington, defensive back Otha Foster, and the rights to a negotiation list player.

The Eskimos used the sixth overall pick to select 6-foot-5, 202 pound St. Francis Xavier receiver Devon Bailey, who was ranked number five by the CFL Scouting Bureau this spring.

General manager Ed Hervey feels Bailey can be an important fixture to his offence.

“You got to able to get the ball down the field and we believe he adds to that,” Hervey explained.  “Having Shamawd (Chambers), having Nate Coehoorn, and Akeem Foster we feel we are getting much bigger at that position.”

Bailey brings something you can’t teach any player, and that’s size. The Eskimos have been searching for a short-side wide receiver ever since their current general manager retired in 2006.

It could still be Shamawd Chambers, who enjoyed a strong second half last season. Bailey, at his size, is matchup problem for opposing defensive backs.

He doesn’t seem to mind mixing it up physically, although the knock on him is his ability to escape a defender, but in time the Eskimos hope he will turn into the deep threat they have been searching for at the wide-out position.

It also helps to have the Canadian depth at receiver to give Bailey the chance to develop. Nate Coehoorn didn’t see much action in 2011, as he only caught two passes, but he was a starter in year two.

Chambers was thrust into action in his first year because of injuries and made a positive impact. Akeem Foster will receive a great oppourtunity to become the third Canuck receiver giving Bailey the time he needs to develop. 

Then again, you never know when you will get your chance.

The trade down to the sixth overall position allowed the Eskimos to fill a need along their offensive line by acquiring Washington.

He has plenty of experience as a starting tackle with Calgary and most recently Toronto where he was Ricky Ray’s left tackle. Both Pierre Lavertu and Matthias Goossen were off the board and Washington is able to come in right away to make an immediate impact.

The Eskimos used their second round pick to draft Toronto running back Aaron Milton who checks in a 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, a frame comparable to Jerome Messam. Milton could fill the role of a blocking back with some athleticism and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

In the fourth round the Eskimos selected SFX defensive back Raye Hartmann, who was out of football for two years after earning an AUS All-Star selection in 2011, but performed very well in pass coverage at the regional combine in Toronto in March.

In the sixth round the Eskimos chose Montreal kicker Zackary Medeiros, a former all-Canadian. Like Grant Shaw, he possesses a big leg but the issue with him, like Shaw, is his accuracy. Medeiros recorded a 40 punt average while playing junior football in London last season.

Rounding out the draft for the Eskimos is Michael Dadzie from the University of Regina Rams, a defensive end that needs to work on his intensity to become a consistent player at the professional level.

Ed Hervey and new head coach Chris Jones are trying to make an immediate impact in 2014. Instead of addressing his offensive line through the draft, Hervey has tried to improve his depth through free-agency and trade.

The defensive line might still be a concern as talks with Ted Laurent are not promising for a return and the question remains whether Ellie Ngoyi can make a stronger contribution in his second season in the CFL?

Overall, mission accomplished according to Hervey.

“We’re very happy when we look at our overall work,” Hervey said. 

“Just the whole day, I felt like we have improved the team immensely. We got bigger, we got more athletic. We’ve addressed the offensive line issue which was a priority. We have also created competition in this (training) camp and we think we were able to that with the selections.”

Training camp here we come!