DRAFT WINDS ROLL THROUGH MOSAIC STADIUM
By Mitchell Blair
It is well known across the CFL that a team is only as strong as its Canadian content. The Riders may arguably lead the league in Canadian talent and they will add to it Saturday as the CFL’s annual draft is held.
Andy Fantuz, Luca Congi, Gene Makowsky, Chris Szarka and Scott Schultz are household names across Saskatchewan for their play on the gridiron and all of them have come to Riderville after the draft and in 2008, the team selected what they believe will be future starters and stars by selecting defensive lineman Keith Shologan and Mike Stadnyk along with offensive lineman Jonathan St. Pierre. The Riders sacrificed some of their 2009 picks in order to get guys like St. Pierre and Stadnyk last season knowing the 2009 class would not be deep. However that doesn’t mean the Riders aren’t doing their homework going into Saturday’s draft because they only have a second round (9th overall) and a third round (17th overall) choice.
Special teams and linebackers coach Alex Smith is once again the football team’s draft co-ordinator. Smith has been watching a lot of television in the office over the past few weeks but he hasn’t been watching “Maury” or “Days of our Lives”. Smith admits the urgency is not there this year as it would if they had a couple of first round picks but that hasn’t stopped him from viewing a lot of tape.
With the Riders being so strong in many areas when it comes to Canadian content, it asks the question just what approach will the football team take when it comes to their first choice which is 9th overall. Saskatchewan football fans would like to see the team take one of three players from the province’s two Universities who are ranked in the top 15, but there may be no room for two of the three. The team has enough Canadian receivers so it is doubtful they would take U of S Huskies slotback Scott McHenry. With the selection of Shologan last year and the presence of Schultz and Luc Mullinder, it would be doubtful to see U of R Rams defensive lineman Stan Van Sichem get selected but there is a chance Van Sichem’s Regina teammate—defensive back Tamon George could get a call.
Smith tells “The Regina Leader-Post” that the ninth player selected will be a good one. He says “Our roster is deep with Canadian players so to get on it will be difficult. We many look at a good future individual or pick the best player available.” That player could be an offensive lineman as there are several blue chip prospects available who could still be on the board like Windsor’s Matt Morencie or St. Francis Xavier’s Steve Middleton. Perhaps they take linebacker James Yurichuk of Bishops or Mike Cornell of Ottawa.
Rider fans can be certain of one thing though. If the past few years are any indication, expect two guys to be taken who could be joining Fantuz, Congi, Makowsky, Szarka and Schultz as household names in the next few years.
Rider fans can follow the CFL draft by going to the CFL website at www.cfl.ca or by tuning in TSN at 9:00 am (11:00 am Eastern).