During Duane Forde’s playing days, the occasional draft bust was no big deal.
Now earning his paycheques as a gridiron analyst, the former Calgary Stampeders fullback figures the stakes surrounding the annual CFL Canadian College Draft are much higher.
“The thing that is overlooked is the element of accountability,” Forde said.
“Everyone knows the Flames don’t have a good draft history. How many people do you hear saying the same thing if the Stamps have a bad stretch? For years, CFL teams didn’t go 100% into the draft and they would make mistakes and no one would question them on it.
“It’s getting to a point now similar to the NFL or the NHL in that if you have a couple of bad drafts and the team struggles, people will call you on it.”
The CFL’s eight organizations will dial in Sunday morning for the latest instalment of the Canadian College Draft (10 a.m., TSN).
The Stampeders hold six selections in Sunday’s prospect grab, starting with the fifth-overall choice, and GM/head coach John Hufnagel welcomes the pressure of finding contributors.
“Not only do we have to be good coaches, but we have to be good evaluators of talent and be able to make the selections that will get us the best players for our scheme, for our system,” Hufnagel said.
With the off-season departures of kicker Sandro DeAngelis (Hamilton Tiger-Cats), and offensive-line regulars Dimitri Tsoumpas (Miami Dolphins) and Jeff Pilon (retirement), the Stamps are searching for homegrown talent to step into key roles.
Hufnagel hit a pair of home-runs in his first draft as Stamps head honcho, swinging a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos and grabbing offensive linemen Tsoumpas and Jesse Newman back to back in the opening round.The jury is still out on last year’s first-rounder, safety Eric Fraser, who returned to Central Michigan University for his senior season but is expected to suit up for the Stamps this summer.
Hufnagel is hopeful his first pick Sunday will also be ready to battle for a full-time job.
Each team is required to field seven non-import starters, putting an emphasis on stocking the shelves with quality up-and-comers and maintaining enough depth to weather the storm when the injury bug bites.
That all starts at the draft table, and every league executive knows it.
“In the past, there were running jokes about teams drafting a dead guy. Stuff like that ain’t going to happen in 2010 because teams do so much more homework now,” Forde said.
“It’s an aspect of the game that is more competitive, and it’s taken more seriously.
“Teams recognize the consequences now of not drafting well.”