Friday, May 3, 2013
Austin Holds The Cards
Kent Austin was deliberately and appropriately circumspect when discussing the Hamilton Ticats’ plans for the first overall pick in next week’s CFL Canadian draft, but there seem to be two likely scenarios emerging: keep the pick and select defensive lineman Linden Gaydosh or trade it for multiple picks, immediate help or both.
Gaydosh, a 6-foot-4, 314-pound defensive lineman from Calgary, has seen his stock rise after an excellent showing at last month’s CFL combine but also because of his apparent availability: He’s one of the few top players available who doesn’t have clearcut NFL interest. Other top names, such as the offensive lineman Matt Sewell and defensive lineman Ben D’Aguilar — both from McMaster — and the University of Regina’s Stefan Charles are expected to spend at least some time south of the border and are unlikely to be available for a good chunk of the 2013 season, at a minimum.
There are a number of other teams, including Winnipeg, B.C., Calgary, Montreal and Saskatchewan, who play a Canadian at defensive tackle and could use Gaydosh. It was reported Thursday the Bombers, who sit at No. 2 overall, have offered the Ticats their pick and a prospect and sources say there are at least two other teams with active interest in making a deal to move up.
But Gaydosh makes sense for the Ticats, as well, and they flew him into town this week as part of their preparation for the draft. Hamilton signed Canadian defensive lineman Brian Bulcke in free agency and should have last year’s third-round draft pick, Michael Atkinson, available by the fall as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered during his senior season at Boise State last November. If Austin, in his first season as a CFL general manager, can’t get what he wants for the No. 1, he may be content to select Gaydosh and turn the defensive line into a non-import stronghold.
There is, however, a strong case for dealing the pick and moving down. Several of the other top players available — Sewell and D’Aguilar as well as defensive lineman Charles and linebacker Mike Edem — could also fit nicely into the Ticats’ ratio plans, even if patience is required to actually see them in black and gold. Edem, who is the other elite player in the draft without NFL options, was also brought to Hamilton this week and could make an immediate impact on special teams.
The Ticats have done a nice job at developing Canadian talent through the drafting of futures — players with college eligibility remaining — and could see highly touted prospects such as linebacker Fredo Plesius and defensive back Courtney Stephen in rookie camp later this month. The trade for offensive lineman Greg Wojt and the signing of Bulcke and fellow defensive lineman Shomari Williams from free agency means the Ticats don’t have a pressing need at any Canadian position, though a little special-teams depth wouldn’t hurt.
Another wild card is Austin himself. Having only taken the reigns in December, he’s yet to coach much of his Canadian talent, given that many of the team’s non-import players suit up on the offensive and defensive lines and weren’t at mini-camp. His ratio philosophy, at first glance, would seem to be a significant departure from his predecessor Bob O’Billovich, who picked seven Canadian starting spots and filled them. Austin would appear to favour a more fluid approach, with multiple options.
He’s also got zero track record in the draft. While O’Billovich favoured trading down in exchange for multiple picks and stocked up on futures, Austin has yet to demonstrate a preference for anything: It’s like trying to read the tea leaves while they are still inside the bag.
“We’ve got it down to just a few guys and we’re still finalizing,” Austin said on Thursday. “But we’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do.”
He might be the only one.
(Drew Edwards-Hamilton Spectator)