In 24 hours, the lives of several young men will change forever as their names will be called and they will be invited to join the ranks of the Canadian Football League. In an interesting twist, several of this year’s top Canadian prospects have either been drafted/signed by an NFL team or were invited to attend the New York Giants’ rookie mini-camp this past weekend. Until today, there was some uncertainty on which direction CFL general managers were going to go for the draft. Would they be willing to select a player whom the team may not see for a couple of years down the road, if ever?
As it turned out, none of the players who attended the Giants’ camp impressed New York’s football brass enough to be offered a contract. Thus, these next 24 hours are crucial for CFL teams and their scouts as they go over any last minute film on these young hopefuls in order to decide just who they will take with their respective picks.
The Montreal Alouettes will select fourth overall in the first round, then select again at the #13, #31, #36, #40, #48 and #57th overall positions. Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp got very aggressive in free agency and signed a lot of talent over the winter, but a team can never have too many top-notch Canadian-born players. So which way will Popp go tomorrow evening?
Popp has said in the past that he will always go for the best player available as opposed to drafting solely on team needs. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if at some point you hear one or more of the following names being selected tomorrow evening to join the Montreal Alouettes:
Daryl Waud: The one area I see immediately with the Alouettes that needs attention is along the defensive line. Waud would fill this need nicely, bringing along his speed and ability to swim past the O-Line towards the opposing quarterback. Pair him with Mike Klassen or Khalif Mitchell and opposing QBs are going to have to think fast to survive. Also, he’s a Canadiens fan! Putting him in Montreal’s blue/red/silver makes perfect sense!
Lemar Durant : The Alouettes have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their receiving corps. That being said, the health of Nik Lewis is not a 100% sure thing, Fred Stamps is not getting any younger and I will be stunned if Chad Johnson actually bothers to show up at training camp. Montreal has to think young and long-term with receivers and Durant’s playmaking prowess will only get better with time.
Karl Lavoie : Offensive linemen are traditionally more treasured than gold in the CFL draft and this year’s class is no exception. The cat is out of the bag though when it comes to selecting players from Universite de Laval as it used to almost feel like the collegial powerhouse was the Alouettes’ farm team. No longer, as the other CFL teams have taken note that the Rouge et Or have been able to produce top-tier talent for over a decade now. If Lavoie is still available in the second round, Montreal would be wise to snag him to bolster their roster of all-National O-Linemen.
Maxx Forde : He’s extremely raw, but I can see defensive coaches Keith Willis and Anwar Stewart turning this former University of Idaho Vandal into a pet project. Like Waud, he can be a force along the D-Line with a bit of seasoning. His father is former NFL/CFLer Brian Forde, so this league is in his bloodlines. If no one else has wised up to him by the 5th round, I’d be thrilled to see the Als snatch him up.
Brandon Bridge: The dream of a Canadian-born quarterback playing full-time still lingers for CFL fans. Bridge could have been that hope, except for the fact that he has signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. Jim Popp could draft Bridge in the 6th or 7th rounds if still available and wait out those NFL aspirations. Popp is always looking for his next great QB and should the NFL dream not happen for Bridge, he can come north and be schooled by a coaching staff that features one of the greatest signal-callers in Anthony Calvillo.
It’s highly unlikely that the Alouettes will be able to get all of this aforementioned talent unless they can work some trade magic out. But for a roster with no glaring needs, Montreal can get creative and still find ways to add depth to this talent-laden football team.
Tomorrow’s draft will be featured both on television and online. You can catch the first two rounds on TSN2, then the remaining rounds on TSN.ca and with the TSN GO app on your smartphone. I sincerely hope that last year’s debacle served as a lesson for the CFL’s lead broadcaster to have all their technical ducks in a row, as draft coverage was a complete gongshow to watch unfold live last year.
I’m still of the opinion that the network could show all seven rounds of the CFL Draft on, say, TSN 4 and that would be perfectly fine. A quick glance at the TV schedule has NBA playoff games being shown on 4 of the 5 TSN channels. I certainly do not doubt the place of playoff basketball among sports fans in Canada, but I think you could have spared one of these channels to broadcast the entire draft and roundball fans still would have gotten their fix. Just my personal opinion.
Keep your eyes here on 3 Down Nation as our talented group will be sure to break down each team’s draft picks and put them into context with the current roster. I’ll be back later in the week to weigh in on what Jim Popp and the Montreal Alouettes do tomorrow as they decide who will become the newest members of the Birds of Prey.
What about you, the fans? Who do you see the Alouettes taking in tomorrow’s draft? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know who you think Montreal will pick up. The new CFL season is close at hand, football fans! I can’t wait!
GO ALS GO!!!