2012 CFL Draft Preview

NFL and CFL drafts have a close relationship even though they are part of two very different leagues. The NFL draft is always held a week before the NFL draft and has become one of the biggest events on the NFL calendar. The CFL draft is beginning to become a big deal but is still nowhere near the importance of the NFL draft in the CFL calendar. The CFL continues to sell the draft as they look to showcase some of the best Canadian talent in the game. Unfortunately for the CFL the top talent from Canada will usually get a lot of interest from NFL teams. As a result of this much some of the top talent does not make it to the CFL draft. This brings a unique problem to the CFL teams as they have another factor to look at when thinking of drafting players. They not only need to consider the talent of the players but also the potential of those players to leave to the NFL. If a team picks a player in the draft and that player leaves there is nothing the team can do as they have immediately wasted a draft pick. The player may come back after cuts but there is no guarantee that this will happen. This makes the CFL draft that much harder to predict as some teams may be willing to take the risk of drafting a potential NFL player while others will look to avoid it at all costs. There is still some great talent coming out of the NCAA and CIS this year and even with some taking their turn in the NFL the CFL teams will be looking for their new impact players. Here is a look at the teams in the CFL as they get ready for the CFL Draft.

 

Saskatchewan Roughriders

 

 

 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have fallen the most from their previous years as they went from making the Grey Cup two years in a row to being the worst team in the league. This gives them the top pick in the CFL Canadian Draft as they look to rebuild their team. It will be a tough for the Riders though as they will only have 3 picks this year and will need to use all to start this rebuild. The offseason was not kind to the Riders either as they lost a number of key Canadian players leaving them with some big holes in their non-import ratio. They have already tried to add some Canadian talent in the offseason with two Canadian lineman that will add some great talent to the team. The Riders need a lot of different pieces and although they already have added some good talent to the offensive line they will find it hard to pass on another talented lineman. Offensive Guard Ben Heenan is the top ranked prospect in the draft, not taken by an NFL team, and the Riders will likely take him with the top pick. Born and raised in Saskatchewan and a starting guard on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies make Heenan a great first pick for the Riders. Picking Heenan will add more talent to the line and give the Riders a local boy to market to their fans as they continue to rebuild and that is why the Riders will likely take Heenan in the first round.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Ben Heenan, G (Saskatchewan) [Round 1, #1]

Other Draft Picks:

#15, #39

 

Edmonton Eskimos

 

 

 

 

The Eskimos had a very up and down season last year but made the playoffs and moved into the Conference finals. Even with their great performance the Eskimos picked up the second overall pick in the CFL draft from the Toronto Argonauts. This gives them two picks in the first round to continue their rebuild and help fill the holes they need. The unfortunate part for the Eskies is that they lost the core of their team after Ricky Ray, Jason Barnes, and Jerome Messam left in the offseason. The Eskimos will still try to march on with what they have and may be tempted to take a skilled player on offence in the draft. It would not be the best use of the picks as they need a Canadian Linebacker and more offensive lineman to continue building a team. With two picks in the first round the Ekimos may be able to cover both of these needs but will need to find out who to take first before they leave. With a few players already taken by the NFL the safest bet may be the best linebacker in the draft. Frederic Plesius is a part of the Big Red Machine from Laval and made on impact on the biggest stage in the CIS. Plesius can be an impact player in the CFL and the Eskimos need an impact linebacker in the middle of the defence. Plesius can do this and add a Canadian to the ratio that will help the Eskimos recover from the loss of Jerome Messam. The Eskimos could go another way though as they may get a lineman like Matt Norman or take a risk in drafting potential NFL signee Shamawd Chambers.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Frederic Plesius, LB (Laval) [Round 1 #2]

Other Draft Picks:

#6, #20, #36

 

Hamilton Tiger Cats

 

 

 

 

Hamilton last year had a bad season but still managed to make the playoffs. From there they were able to beat the Alouettes and move on to the Conference Final. That was as far as they could get though as they seemed to perform way over their heads during the playoffs. Finishing with an 8-10 record made the Tiger Cats a rarity in the playoffs and pushed them to the #3 pick in the draft this year. The Ti-Cats are a completely rebuilt team after making two of the biggest moves in the CFL this offseason after picking up Andy Fantuz and Henry Burris. With a total of 6 picks the Ti-Cats will likely be able to add some skill players on their team and fill needs throughout the draft. Although they may need to look at some defensive linemen they may find a risky skill player fall to them to add more firepower to their offence. Shamawd Chambers is the best receiver coming out of CIS schools and clearly is one of the best talents in the draft. The biggest problem is that he was just invited to the training camp of the Philadelphia Eagles for a three-day tryout. He has not signed a contract and is not guaranteed a spot but the fact that he will be travelling to the USA will cause his stock to fall. This may be the case but with so many picks the Ti-Cats may be willing to take the risk and see if Chambers will come back to Canada and add another weapon to the new look offence.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Shamawd Chambers, WR (Laurier) [Round 1 #3]

Other Draft Picks:

#10 #17 #22 #25 #33

 

B.C. Lions

 

 

 

 

The B.C. Lions find themselves sin the best position in the draft as they finished off the season in the best way possible. The Lions finished an improbable season last year as they went on a massive hot streak at the end of the season that ended when they won the 99th Grey Cup at home. Even with the win in the Grey Cup the Lions received the #4 pick in the draft from the Montreal Alouettes. With this pick the Lions can reload and take a real impact player in the first round to replace some big holes. The biggest for the Lions is in the defensive line where they have lost two of the best defensive lineman in the past two years. First it was Ricky Foley who came back from the NFL only to leave for Toronto in 2010. This year they will be without Brent Johnson who after a long and successful career retired after winning the 99th Grey Cup. The Lions depended on Johnson last year to be their emotional leader throughout the season and into the 99th Grey Cup. They will be without him this year and with no big impact replacement they will probably look for one with the 4th pick. This impact player could be Ameet Pall from Montreal, Quebec through Wofford College. Pall earned some buzz in the NFL draft but was considered too small to take. The CFL does not see size though as the Lions will look to immediately replace a hole and although he will never replace Johnson he could be a good impact player for a team that has lost some great talent in the past few years at that position.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Ameet Pall, DE (Wofford) [Round 1 #4]

Other Draft Picks:

#7 #14 #37 #38

 

Calgary Stampeders

 

 

 

 

 

The Calgary Stampeders are in a period of change that started last year when they benched longtime starter Henry Burris. Instead they started the young Drew Tate and he led them to a strong second half of the season. The Stamps said goodbye to Burris in the offseason as they officially handed the team over to Drew Tate. The team also moved on last year away from Joffrey Reynolds and instead let Jon Cornish take over the rushing duties. The team is in a state of flux but they are perfectly built for that as they are one of the deepest teams in the CFL this year. They have little need for more Canadians with a strong ratio and not need to start any more than they have right now. This puts the Stamps in a unique position as they have a number of draft picks and very little holes to fill. That means that the Stamps can generally take whoever they choose to take even if they will not play for the team in the next few years. That frees up the few NFL prospects in the CFL draft this year including Tyrone Crawford. Crawford has already been selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL draft. The Stampeders can wait on him though if his look in the NFL does not work out. If he does end up cracking the roster in the NFL the Stampeders will not be at a loss as they will be in a position to take the rights of the defensive end.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Tyrone Crawford, DE (Boise State) [Round 1 #5]

Other Draft Picks:

#12 #19 #27 #30 #31 #35 #43 #45

 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

 

 

 

 

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers fought all season long as they were battered and beaten much like their QB. Still the Bombers created Swaggerville and won through defence moving all the way on to the Grey Cup. They could not overcome the offence of the B.C. Lions though and ended their season as runner sup. This year the Bombers have lost some key players in their Swaggerville defence including the self-proclaimed mayor of Swaggerville Odell Willis. The Bombers have had a strong philosophy in the draft in recent years as they always will take the best player available. They have almost never drafted based purely on need and so far it has worked for them including last year when they selected Henoc Muamba who will likely start in the defence this year. The Bombers are in a different position this year as they will need to wait 7 picks and the entire first round of the draft to get their first shot at the top Canadians in 2012. Still there will be enough talent for the Bombers to be forced to make a decision in the draft as they will have to decide to stay with their philosophy or abandon it. The Bombers could use an offensive lineman in the draft this year but they might not be able to find one at their first pick this year. Instead there may be a defensive lineman that could be available at the first pick in the second round. Jabar Westerman made an impact in the NCAA and could be a strong lineman down the middle that may lessen the blow of the loss of Willis. If Westerman falls to the Bombers he will be taken but it will be a matter of who the best player on their board is at the 8th pick.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Jabar Westerman, DL (Eastern Michigan) [Round 2 #8]

Other Draft Picks:

#13 #16 #21 #23 #29

 

Toronto Argonauts

 

 

 

 

 

The Toronto Argonauts have been up and down for years as they have been unable to put together a solid team. This offseason the Argos tried to change that as they were able to land Ricky Ray from the Edmonton Eskimos. This pick up also cost the Argonauts their first round pick forcing them to the second round. They will need to watch almost every other team take their players before they can get their next player. The Argos may try to trade to get into the first round but they may not be able to get there. Instead they will sit at the 9th pick in the draft as they looks to see what talent can fall to them. It is no mystery that the Argonauts would love to land Frederic Plesius but they will need to get extremely lucky for the top linebacker in the draft to fall to them. Instead they will try to look for a player that will be in the double blue this season instead of being cut or playing the in NFL. One major point of need will be depth in many spots but more so in the defensive line. The Argos do not have a lot of depth in that position especially in the Canadian department as the Argonauts start a lot of Americans in their defence. With this in mind the best option for the Argonauts could be Justin Capocciotti who has played in the USA with the only Canadian school in the NCAA. Capociotti is likely not a starter at this point but the Argos do not need a starter they need depth and that is something that he can provide.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Justin Capicciotti, DL (Simon Fraser) [Round 2 #9]

Other Draft Picks:

#24 #28 #32 #40 #41

 

Montreal Alouettes

 

 

 

The Montreal Alouettes are consistently favorites in the CFL but last year they disappointed their fans as they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. For the Als this was a disappointment as they are used to winning almost every year. This year the Alouettes will have the same goals as they usually do and the draft will be the first step towards that. The draft for the Alouettes is usually a chance for them to add more depth to a team that rarely has holes. The Alouettes have been very successful in the draft taking some great players in the draft that have turned out to be impact players in the CFL. They have also had their moments of bad decisions taking some players that never panned out. This year one big need that the Alouettes do have will be at the wide receiver position as they need more Canadian depth in the wideout position. The Alouettes will be looking for a very skilled player in this spot but there is always an extra factor when it comes to teams in Montreal. Any chance that the Alouettes, or any team in Quebec, can land a French player they jump at the chance. This will come into play as they may have a chance at picking up Simon Charbonneau-Campeau from Sherbrooke University. Campeau was one of the best players in the RSEQ last year and will be an irresistible pick for the Als. They will please the fans by taking a French player and will get a solid Canadian receiver who may be able to crack the starting line this year.

 

First Pick Prediction:

Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, WR (Sherbooke) [Round 2 #11]

Other Draft Picks:

#18 #26 #34 #42 #44

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