The Winnipeg Blue Bombers spent a majority of Tuesday’s CFL draft bolstering their Canadian depth on a defence made up of mostly American talent.
Of course, the draft isn’t all about finding players who make an immediate impact on the starting rotation. In fact, many selected in the annual player pickup will never reach that point and instead are leaned on to adopt important roles with special teams, while some never even get that far.
Still, for a team that has six of its seven Canadian starters playing on the offensive side of the ball, the Bombers using five of their six selections on defensive players made for an interesting strategy.
“Just how the board went,” Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said in a post-draft press conference at IG Field Wednesday. “(Head coach) Mike O’Shea and I were looking at the board, the depth chart after it was all said and done and we’ve certainly, over the last few years, added some good youth on that defensive side of the ball, at all levels now. I like the way the defence is shaping up, where we’ve got the veteran group still here, but we’ve added some good depth guys.”
As mentioned, it’s unlikely any player selected by Winnipeg Tuesday will crack a starting role on a club that’s won back-to-back Grey Cup titles and has kept a majority of its roster intact. But it’s worth looking at what the Bombers have added, most of whom will be at rookie camp on May 11.
Below are the six players Winnipeg chose and a comment from Walters on each selection.
Tyrell Ford, DB, Waterloo — Second round, 13th overall
The skinny: “You just don’t see that type of Canadian athlete. He was too good not to take, it’s as simple as that. He was the best player on the board at that moment. You just look on paper and he’s as athletic as any American DB that we’ll bring in here. It’ll be good for him to compete. You saw it at the evaluation camp and sometimes in games. It’s just when you’re that good, and teams don’t throw at you, it almost looks like he gets a little bored out there. But you saw the competitiveness when he was going against the receivers at the evaluation camp, he stepped up, which was great to see. “He’s also a legitimate punt returner.”
Cole Adamson, DL, Manitoba — Fourth round, 38th overall
The skinny: “Building on that size in the (defensive) interior line, I like Cole a lot. He’s going back to school for a specific engineering course. We just figured having a big body that’s a good football player in the hopper was just too good to pass up at that size (6-5, 290 pounds)”
Chris Ciguineau, DB, Ottawa — Fifth round, 47th overall
The skinny: “The defensive back from Ottawa has a unique story. He was a soccer player who didn’t get playing football until he was 18. He was a receiver who switched to defensive back. He is a phenomenal athlete, and he’s long and athletic and competes. He was an interesting athlete at that point (in the draft), where we were just looking for the best athlete to bring in.”
Jeremy Kapelanski, DL, Guelph — Sixth round, 56th overall
The skinny: “We talked about trying to build some depth at the interior (of the defensive line). He’s a big body – 285 to 290 pounds – that can get off the ball and plug a gap and bring some size.”
Cedrick Lavigne, DB, Carleton — Seventh round, 65th overall
The skinny: “The Carleton DB is a 210-pound guy, but at this point of the draft – and we say this every year – but he had one of the best special-teams film. He plays with energy, he’s super excitable, runs around and we just liked the way he played special teams. I’m not sure where he fits in on the defence – maybe at the dime – but if he plays special teams up here and shows (special teams co-ordinator Paul) Boudreau and Mike the energy he showed (in college) he’ll be able to compete for a spot.”
Konner Burtenshaw, FB, Queen’s — Eighth round, 74th overall
The skinny: “We joked that he’s (Bombers president and CEO) Wade Miller. He’s a stalky guy, full back that doesn’t play a lot of offensive snaps but the best special-teams film. He probably had the same question that Wade had coming out (of college): athletically, can he make the cut? We’ll see. But Wade showed you didn’t need to be an elite athlete to have a hall-of-fame type CFL career. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on Konner, but he’s a hard-nosed, tough kid that plays special teams at a really, really high level.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.