Smart move, Argonauts.
Head coach Jim Barker and general manager Adam Rita wouldn’t have been faulted if they had played the Canadian Football League draft safe and kept the No. 1 pick overall on Sunday. The 2010 draft class is a deep one, and the Argos were guaranteed of selecting an excellent prospect with the first pick.
But with no player who is head and shoulders above the rest, Barker and Co. knew they could deal the first pick and still come away with some solid young players.
And that’s what the Argos have done, as they are expected to kick off the draft by announcing they have dealt the first pick to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, along with the eighth pick, in exchange for the second and fourth picks overall and a veteran Canadian player. Further, the Argos will flip picks with the B.C. Lions, getting the third choice in exchange for the fourth, as well as the 18th, 26th and 30th, for their Nos. 20, 24 and 25.
“The Argos definitely will be trading down,” a CFL source said.
Linebacker Cory Greenwood and offensive lineman Joe Eppele should be wearing Double Blue by the end of the day.
“My understanding from speaking to the Argos organization is that they will take Cory with their first pick,” Johnathon Hardaway, the agent for Greenwood, told the Toronto Sun Saturday afternoon.
With the first pick, the Roughriders would choose defensive end/linebacker Shomari Williams, a Brampton native who starred for Queen’s after three years at the University of Houston.
Another CFL source confirmed that indeed, Williams will be the player chosen at 12 p.m., by the ’Riders.
The Lions covet wide receiver Shawn Gore, and would be free to take him with the fourth pick.
There aren’t many ways this can backfire for the Argos, unless both Greenwood and Eppele suffer devastating injuries and Williams becomes the next Mike O’Shea. If Williams, Greenwood and Eppele develop as expected, all should have lengthy and prosperous CFL careers. Now, instead of having just one of those players, the Argos will have two.
An Argos spokesperson said that nothing official would be announced on Saturday. Barker had said on Friday that the chances of trading the No. 1 pick were “50-50” and that “we’re not going to mortgage the future, but we’re going to do what we can to help this club.”
Well, not only did the Argos not mortgage the future, they went one better in making it brighter than it would have been otherwise.
And don’t forget that Toronto also has the 11th pick overall as well. With Greenwood and Eppele in the fold, the Argos could use that pick on one of the “futures” in the draft — a player such as John Bender, Danny Watkins or Joel Reinders, if any of them remain available. All could be headed to the NFL at some point, but there are no guarantees they would stick in the U.S.
Or perhaps Barker uses the pick on Guelph kicker/punter Rob Maver, who is a player the Argos could use and this also would prevent him from landing in the hands of the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who pick No. 12. But there is some buzz that Maver could go as high as No. 5 to Calgary.
There has been little — actually, make that nothing — for Argos fans to get excited about in the past two years. It’s debatable whether Greenwood or Eppele will make a huge impact right away, and one true guarantee about drafts in any pro sport is that there simply are few sure-things.
But the Argos have pulled off a shrewd move, regardless. The club won’t be turned around in one draft, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Argos lose more than they win in 2010.
However, if the draft-day moves are indicative of the future with Barker at the helm, Argos fans should anticipate cheering with a little more regularity.