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Forde: Redrafting the tremendous 2008 class

Duane Forde
5/4/2013 10:24:34 AM
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The 2006 CFL draft class had some tremendous prospects and has produced three players, Jon Cornish, Andy Fantuz, and Ricky Foley, who have gone on to earn Most Outstanding Canadian Awards. And when it comes to overall depth, I don't believe that there has ever been a class as impressive as 2008.

28 of the 48 players chosen (58.3%) were still active CFLers as of the end of the 2012 season. By contrast, only 31.9% of the 47 players drafted a year later, in 2009, were still in the league. The Class of 2008 was so deep that half of the players drafted in Rounds 4 through 6 are still in the CFL five years later and even those who aren't starters represent a who's who of the CFL's best special teamers.

In fact, it was so deep that an undrafted player from the class, Jerome Messam, went on to win a Most Outstanding Canadian Award.

On the fifth anniversary of one of the best drafts in league history, I wanted to find a unique way to revisit and analyze the event. Enter the “2008 CFL Re-Draft.”

Here's how it works: I'll redo the first sixteen picks with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, looking at how the draft might have unfolded in 2008 had the eight CFL teams known how the then-prospects would turn out. However, the circumstances of the draft remain as they were in 2008. So, if a team had a pressing need at a given position at the time of the original draft, the Re-Draft selection will still reflect that need.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats, it's 2008 and you're on the clock...

1st Overall
Team: Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original Pick: Dylan Barker – DB - Saskatchewan
Revised Pick: Shea Emry – LB – British Columbia
The Tiger-Cats selection of Barker was driven in part by their need to create some ratio flexibility. In other words, over the course of a year or two, they needed to convert at least one of their import starting positions into a Canadian position and they chose to do it at free safety with Barker. The former U of S Huskie turned out to be a terror on special teams and a decent safety but, of the four seasons he was in the CFL before retiring, two of them were spent sidelined by injuries.

If they could have a mulligan, knowing what they know now, the Ticats best bet for a ratio changer would be Emry, who beat out import Reggie Hunt to become Montreal's starting middle linebacker in his second CFL season.

2nd Overall
Team: Edmonton Eskimos
Original Pick: Dimitri Tsoumpas – OL – Weber State (Edmonton traded the pick to Calgary on Draft Day and the Stampeders picked Tsoumpas)
Revised Pick: Dimitri Tsoumpas – OL – Weber State
On Draft Day, 2008, the Eskimos had Edmonton native Dimitri Tsoumpas sitting in their Commonwealth Stadium offices, waiting to be announced as their first round pick. It was a perfect fit, until the Esks succumbed to the Calgary Stampeders' offer of veteran offensive lineman John Comiskey, rookie non-import receiver Kevin Challenger, and the Stamps 11th and 19th overall picks (with which Edmonton drafted OL Greg Wojt and LB/LS Tim St. Pierre respectively) in exchange for Edmonton's 2nd and 16th overall selections (used by Calgary to take Tsoumpas and DE Fernand Kashama).

They hustled Tsoumpas out of their facility and have regretted it ever since, as Tsoumpas became an instant starter in Calgary and helped the Stampeders win the 2008 Grey Cup. Although Comiskey was Edmonton's top offensive lineman in '08, chronic knee problems forced him to retire after the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Challenger caught just eight passes in his two-year Eskimo career. The other draft choices involved balanced the deal somewhat but, on Re-Draft Day, the Eskies don't make the trade and keep Tsoumpas for themselves.

3rd Overall
Team: Calgary Stampeders
Original Pick: Jesse Newman – OL – Louisiana-Lafayette
Revised Pick: Brendon LaBatte – OL – Regina
After losing longtime offensive line anchors Jamie Crysdale and Jay McNeil to retirement in recent years, the Stampeders desperately needed a couple of OL who could start immediately, which was why they put the full court press on Edmonton to attempt to get a second pick in the Top 3. Jesse Newman fit the bill, joining Tsoumpas as an instant starter in Calgary, but LaBatte did the same in Winnipeg and has not only proven to be a better and more durable player than Newman, but he's also four full years younger.

4th Overall
Team: Saskatchewan Roughriders
Original Pick: Keith Shologan – DT – Central Florida
Revised Pick: Keith Shologan – DT – Central Florida
With Scott Schultz entering his eighth season, the Riders wanted to ensure that they had some depth behind him at nose tackle. Even in hindsight, Shologan proved to be the perfect pick, especially when Schultz ended up retiring in August of the following season.

5th Overall
Team: British Columbia Lions
Original Pick: Justin Sorensen – OL – South Carolina
Revised Pick: Greg Wojt – OL – Central Michigan
You might think that, if the Lions were going to stay with a redshirt offensive lineman in this slot, that they might take Andrew Woodruff. However, at the time, the Leos were positioning themselves to eventually transition from using two American offensive tackles (Rob Murphy and Jason Jimenez) to playing at least one, if not two, non-imports at OT. Woodruff projected as a guard and B.C. already had young guards Dean Valli and Jon Hameister-Ries, both '06 draft choices, in the fold.

Wojt could play tackle and, therefore, would've been a better fit. As an aside, the desire to play Canadian OTs was a big factor in the ill-fated Danny Watkins gamble by B.C. in the 2010 Draft. When Watkins became a first round NFL pick and Sorensen was slow to develop, the Lions had to retool their ratio plans.

6th Overall
Team: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original Pick: Brendon LaBatte – OL - Regina
Revised Pick: Jesse Newman – OL – Louisiana-Lafayette
Again, you're probably asking “Why not Woodruff?” Well, the Bombers situation going into the '08 season was that they, like Calgary, needed an O-Lineman who could start for them in Week 1. Yes, players like Woodruff (12th overall), Jon Gott (35th), and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain (48th) all developed into CFL starters but Woodruff and Gott were redshirts who didn't turn pro until 2009, and Brodeur-Jourdain also returned to school for more seasoning in '08.

The only other OL in the class who made a team's roster in 2008 was Mark Dewit (42nd) but he wasn't as game ready as Newman. While Newman's career ended prematurely due to injuries and perhaps a lack of motivation, in hindsight, he still would've been the only fit here.

7th Overall
Team: Montreal Alouettes
Original Pick: Shea Emry – LB – British Columbia
Revised Pick: Andrew Woodruff – OL – Boise State
We obviously know from the fact that he has spent the last two and a half years as their starting left guard that Andrew Woodruff is a fit for the Montreal Alouettes.

In the Re-Draft, he still ends up with the Als but gets chosen five spots higher because (a) he's now the best player on the board at No. 7, and (b) the Als would know that, in the Re-Draft, he wouldn't have made it past both Saskatchewan (10th) and Calgary (11th) for Montreal to pick him twelfth overall again.

8th Overall
Team: Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original Pick: Samuel Giguere – WR - Sherbrooke
Revised Pick: Jerome Messam – RB – Graceland
The Tiger-Cats feature back in 2008 was Canadian Jesse Lumsden. As I mentioned with the No. 1 pick, one of the big challenges that the Tabbies faced in those days was a lack of ratio flexibility. Whenever Lumsden got injured, it threw the entire roster into disarray because the Cats had to replace him with an import RB and then replace an import starter with a non-import backup at another position.

With Messam, a similar type of player, providing depth behind Lumsden, many headaches would've been alleviated in Steeltown.

9th Overall
Team: British Columbia Lions
Original Pick: Rolly Lumbala – FB - Idaho
Revised Pick: Rolly Lumbala – FB – Idaho
Fullbacks are typically drafted due to a positional need and that was a case with the Lions and Lumbala in 2008. Five years later, he's had a number of different running backs follow his blocks but Lumbala has lived up to all expectations and proven that he was absolutely the right choice here.

10th Overall
Team: Saskatchewan Roughriders
Original Pick: Jonathan St. Pierre – OL – Illinois State
Revised Pick: Jon Gott – OL – Boise State
Saskatchewan wanted to draft the heir apparent to longtime centre Jeremy O'Day in this slot. In retrospect, that would've been accomplished by taking one of the three players from this draft class who are now starting CFL centres - Gott, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, or Justin Sorensen. I chose Gott.

11th Overall
Team: Calgary Stampeders
Original Pick: Greg Wojt – OL – Central Michigan (Calgary traded the pick to Edmonton on Draft Day and the Eskimos picked Wojt. We established at the No. 2 overall pick that, given a do-over, Edmonton wouldn't have made that deal.)
Revised Pick: Luc Brodeur-Jourdain – OL – Laval
With Edmonton keeping Dimitri Tsoumpas for themselves in the Re-Draft, the Stampeders were only able to fill one of those two gaping holes on their O-Line in the first round. After Tsoumpas, LaBatte, and Newman, Brodeur-Jourdain was the next offensive lineman in this draft class to become a full-time starter in the CFL so he gets the call here.

12th Overall
Team: Montreal Alouettes
Original Pick: Andrew Woodruff – OL – Boise State
Revised Pick: Samuel Giguere – WR – Sherbrooke
2006 draft picks Eric Deslauriers and Danny Desriveaux had just joined the Als during the 2007 season, giving them enough youth and depth behind veteran receiver Ben Cahoon to allow them to wait four years for the NFL-bound Giguere, whose Quebec roots give him added value in Montreal.

13th Overall
Team: Toronto Argonauts
Original Pick: Mike Bradwell – SB - McMaster
Revised Pick: Don Oramasionwu – DT – Manitoba
The Argos never really had a backup or succession plan as injuries began to catch up to veteran defensive tackle Adriano Belli. Oramasionwu, originally the 39th overall selection, would've provided some much needed relief for the Kissing Bandit.

14th Overall
Team: British Columbia Lions
Original Pick: Mike Stadnyk – DL – Montana (B.C. traded this pick to Saskatchewan on Draft Day for a 2009 first round pick, and Saskatchewan picked Stadnyk, a Regina native. In hindsight, Saskatchewan wouldn't have made the deal to take Stadnyk, who turned out to be one of the few disappointments in this draft.)
Revised Pick: Mike Bradwell – SB – McMaster
Bradwell, who has averaged about 20 catches a year, didn't enter the CFL until 2009 because of a nagging hamstring injury. However, if the Lions had grabbed him here to back up Paris Jackson and Jason Clermont, they might not have used four of their eight picks in the 2010 Draft on receivers, as they needed to restock the cupboard.

15th Overall
Team: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original Pick: Aaron Hargreaves – WR – Simon Fraser
Revised Pick: Justin Sorensen – OL – South Carolina
Hargreaves averaged about thirteen receptions per year over four seasons in Winnipeg, primarily in backup duty. He wasn't a bad pick at this stage of the draft but, in the Re-Draft, there are three other players on the board, DE Fernand Kashama, LB Pierre-Luc Labbé, and OL Justin Sorensen, who have also played significant snaps for the Bombers in recent years.

I chose the latter because (a) he has emerged as the only full-time starter of the group, and (b) although he was drafted as a tackle, he's being re-drafted with the knowledge that he'll play inside in the CFL, making him a good fit given the uncertain health status of former Blue Bomber Obby Khan around 2008, and the knowledge that Winnipeg's Re-Draft first rounder, Jesse Newman, would have a relatively short career.

16th Overall
Team: Edmonton Eskimos
Original Pick: Fernand Kashama – DE – Western Michigan (Edmonton traded this pick to Calgary on Draft Day and the Stampeders picked Kashama. We established at the No. 2 overall pick that, in hindsight, Edmonton wouldn't have made that trade.)
Revised Pick: Jason Arakgi – LB - McMaster
Labbé and Kashama both received consideration here as well but, with no future full-time starters on the board, I opted for the best special teamer. That would be Arakgi, who was once a finalist for the CFL's Outstanding Special Teams award, the only kick cover guy to ever achieve that distinction and, besides Messam and Emry, the only other player in the class to be a finalist for any Outstanding Player award.




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