May 7, 2010

2010 CFL Canadian draft wrap

By Jack Bedell,

Hammond, LA – I know I sound like a broken record saying this every year, but it’s as true as ever. If you’re going to grade the CFL Canadian Draft, you better have a three-year plan.

Considering the facts that many of the players chosen in the draft have college eligibility remaining and/or NFL opportunities and that the CFL represents a considerable step up in competition for many of the draftees, there’s just no way to judge the impact of a draft class immediately after the event.

The only “sure thing” at this point is that we’ll have to wait a while to see the real winners and losers of May 2’s CFL draft.

No matter how many statistics you read, how much film you watch, or how well you know the rosters of the teams drafting, each team has it’s own set of standards in regards to ability, fitting into offensive and defensive schemes, and matching the chemistry of the locker room, so there’s just no way of predicting how draft boards will look around the CFL.

As they say, talent is in the eye of the beholder, and you can bet all eight teams in the league believe they caught a boatload of talent in last weekend’s draft.

So, with all the talent available, how did the Alouettes do in the draft?

Popp’s picks
With three picks in the first two rounds of the draft, the Als managed to snag a top-five interior offensive line prospect in Concordia’s Kristian Matte, the consensus number one defensive end in the draft in Wilfrid Laurier’s Chima Ihekwaoaba, and a top-four linebacker in North Dakota’s Curtis Dublanko.

Matte has perfect size and hand/foot speed to fit right into the Als’ offensive line rotation. He should provide nice depth at one of the team’s positions of strength. And it might just be me, but I love the move of a taking a local product off the board with the first pick.

Ihekwaoaba impressed scouts all over North America with his athleticism this past season at WLU. Add to his on-field skills some top-shelf measureables, and it’s easy to see why the NFL’s Detroit Lions signed him to a one-year deal. If Ihekwaoaba fails to stick in Detroit, he’ll certainly be an asset to the Alouettes’ mix at defensive end.

Dublanko is coming off a breakout junior year at North Dakota that saw him named the Fighting Sioux’s defensive player of the year. He’s a high-motor tackler with disruptive skills behind the line of scrimmage who should continue to develop in his last year of NCAA eligibility. By the time he gets to Alouettes’ camp in 2011, he’ll be ready to make an immediate impact on special teams and should add some much-needed Canadian depth at linebacker.

Going with the intangibles
The team might just have made the first jaw-dropping pick of the 2010 draft with its third-round selection of University of Montreal quarterback Marc-Olivier Brouillette. While Brouillette posted respectable completion percentages and touchdown-to-interception ratios with the Carabins, it’s going to be his physicality that gives him a chance to stick on the Als’ roster, not his arm. At 6’0”, 230 lbs, Brouillette has the build to play multiple positions on both sides of the ball in the CFL. Posting 35 reps on the bench press during the NIC this past year certainly shows he has the strength to get the job done at free safety, fullback, or slotback.

With their fourth-round pick, the Als got some serious versatility on the O-line in Guelph’s Ryan Bomben. Bomben played offensive tackle collegiately, but has more than enough foot speed to move into the interior line at the CFL level. He has the perfect size and attitude to make a good impression.

Rounding out the Als’ picks were a couple of scrappy linebackers – Simon Fraser’s Brian Ridgeway and Bishop’s Gaiter Justin Conn. If Ridgeway can recover from concussion issues suffered while at SFU, he will make an excellent addition to the Als special teams, as would Conn.

If you listed the need for an injection of youth on the offensive and defensive lines, the addition of more speed on teams, and a little depth at linebacker among the Alouettes’ wishes going into the 2010 CFL Canadian Draft, you’d have to consider these six picks spot on.

In the end, though, we’ve got a month before rookie camp to debate the relative worth of this draft, and years before we’ll have the bona fide facts to decide. All in all, I’d say I’m excited about the way the 2010 draft went down, and I can’t wait to see how these picks turn out on the field the next couple of Junes.