Sunday, April 26, 2009

CIS Corner: Western's Martin bolts for San Diego

It was no risk at all Vaughn Martin to declare for the NFL draft. It's a great day for him, first and foremost, getting drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round, 113th overall. It's a great day for Canadian university football, too.

(And a commenter called it!)

Martin is an outlier, since 330-pound men who are hostile, mobile and agile don't come along too often in Canadian university football. Point being, defy anyone to find a downside to having an underclassman drafted by the NFL out of CIS. It's a good advertisement for the game, as far as most media and fans are concerned.

One bit of subtext here is that the Canadian Football League is going to have to examine its drafting procedures. These were exceptional circumstances, but the league should wonder if something's wrong when its rules don't let it draft an exceptional player from a Canadian school.

The focus is on Martin, though. It helped him that the 3-4 defence (three down linemen, four linebackers; most pro and collegiate teams in Canada run a 4-3) has enjoyed a renaissance in the NFL. At the start of this decade, it seemed like a football anachronism and has almost disappeared from the NFL.

Half a dozen teams use the 3-4 full-time and a couple others are working it into their defences, since it gives them another fleet defender. Martin seems to have the physical specs, namely the size and longish arms to help hold off blockers. As National Football Post, on behalf of Yahoo! Sports, says:
"Martin is one of the most intriguing talents in this draft. He's a massive 6-foot-3, 330-pound nose tackle who played the past year in Canada. But he is a gifted athlete who has the makings of a potential steal and the guy who could take over for Jamal Williams in the coming years."
Williams is 33 years old. Nosetackles can have surprising longevity considering the beating they take (the Vikings are going into the season with 37-year-old Pat Williams), but the Chargers have to budget for Williams' decline.

San Diego's roster seems to reflect that with interior defensive linemen, it really doesn't matter what school you attended. Three of their DLs, Jacques Cesaire (Southern Connecticut St.), Andre Coleman (Albany) Keith Grennan (Eastern Washington) played below the NCAA's top division.

The Chargers also have their share of small-school or "project" players. Their all-everything tight end, Antonio Gates, is a converted basketball player. Starting wide receiver Vincent Jackson played at Northern Colorado, a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1-AA) school.

As for the impact on Western, the Mustangs are relatively well-stocked in the middle of the defensive line. Mike Van Praet, who tips the Toledos at 300 lbs., entering his sophomore season after playing as a true freshman in 2008. Chris Greaves, listed at 6-foot, 275 lbs., would be entering his fourth season. Greg Best was limited to two games last fall, but he was nimble enough to occasionally serve as a blocking back for running back Randy McAuley during the 2007 season.

(Cross-posted to It seemed like no one else would bother posting on this on a Sunday, so I apologize for the obscure topic.

Martin is the first underclassman from a Canadian Interuniversity Sport school taken in the NFL draft. Of course, underclassmen weren't allowed to enter it in the mid-1980s when Mike Schad from Queen's was taken in the first round by the L.A. Rams and yes, pointing that out is a total dick move.)

1 comment:

Mike Radoslav said...

Nice write-up!

It's great for the CIS that Martin got drafted, and reports are that Jamal Lee out of Bishop's was signed on with the Panthers as a FA after the draft as well!

There's plenty of talented players here in Canada playing football in University, it's not just limited to the States. Hopefully people realize this and show up in the stands a bit more on Saturday's to see what's going on out there on the field.