Friday, May 01, 2009

CFL: It's always sunny on draft day

The upshot of tomorrow's CFL Canadian college draft is that the players selected face long odds of having a lengthy pro career. However, player agent Darren Gill says there is a corollary between the teams who put time and thought into the draft and the ones who can't or won't:
"Gill also notes that the Grey Cup-champion Calgary Stampeders have amassed the highest percentage of starters from the draft during the six-year span (from 2002-07) at 18.2 per cent. At the other end of the spectrum, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — who select first overall Saturday after posting a league-worst 3-15 record — have seen almost 45 per cent of their draft picks never play a down in the CFL, compared to just 20.5 per cent for the Stamps."

It's central to understanding the three-down Canadian game that scouting is relatively unsophisticated compared to the major pro sports leagues and the NHL. GIll notes, "Limited financial resources simply means that teams cannot dedicate the necessary funds for dedicated personnel to scout the upcoming draft talent ... With that being said, I believe that teams do see the positive effect of a good draft and many are starting to put more effort into their scouting efforts."

However, it is reassuring to read the teams which do right by Canadian players are rewarded on the field. The ones who aren't, such as Hamilton and the Toronto Argonauts, don't. Paraphrasing what Barry Alvarez said when he took over the woebegone Wisconsin Badgers two decades ago, the heart and soul of the CFL comes from Canada; the arms, hands and legs come from somewhere else. (The draft is pretty heavy in linemen.) It seems important to keep that in mind ahead of Saturday's selections.

The B.C. Lions have a deal in principle to move up to the No. 3 overall pick and take the hometown kid, record-setting Bishop's Gaiters running back Jamall Lee (who was coached by Napanee native Leroy Blugh).

Incidentally, it's impossible to resist passing along a column from South Carolina actually dedicated to the CFL draft and the fact Americans are not eligible:
"As for the CFL, its top pick is expected to be Alberta offensive lineman Simeon Rottier. By the time the draft is done it’ll read like a who’s who of Canadian stars, although those of us unfamiliar with Canadian college ball might be asking, 'Who?' "
That could go for much of Canada, but that is neither here nor there. It's going to be a very special day for some Canadian footballers.

CFL agent Darren Gill offers his clients some sage advice (The Canadian Press)


Andrew Bucholtz said...

Very interesting stuff. One corollary I've noticed; at least in recent years, the top picks in the CFL draft tend to pan out more than the top picks in the NFL draft. There was a good piece on the #1 overall picks on the CFL site this week, and since 1999 (as far back as they went), every player (except Tyson St. James and Robert Meier) is still in the league and making a significant impact. Meier isn't only because he's in the NFL. By comparison, three NFL #1 overall picks in that span are out of the league, and only Michael Vick is out for non-performance reasons, while two more are serving as disappointing backups (David Carr and Alex Smith) and a third is a disappointing starter (JaMarcus Russell). Of course, it's much tougher to predict quarterback success than almost any other position, but I found it interesting that most of the CFL's top picks have done quite well for themselves given the flameout rate south of the border.

sager said...

Good points. That might be it, that CFL teams use the Canadian college draft to fill needs on the offensive line or defensive line.

Wow, the CFL has two CIS coaches on their draft panel, and neither is Greg Marshall. Canadian media acknowledging there is another university football team beyond Western? Unprecedented.