First and then?

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

It is an educated guess, at best, and a roll of the dice for all CFL teams.

Today's annual entry draft spreads the top Canadian talent throughout the nine-team league, including the Calgary Stampeders, who hold the first-overall pick.

Yet, while every CFL club does its utmost to research the Canadian products available -- save for the year Ottawa selected a deceased player -- a weak draft makes the process much like rummaging through the grocery store's produce counter.

Almost everything looks tasty enough but until you actually sink your teeth into it, nobody knows what's most palatable.

Magnifying the problem is the consensus there are few, if any, starters among this year's homegrown crop.

The Stampeders are expected to pass on running back Jesse Lumsden, who signed a free-agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks, unless they pick the McMaster product only to trade him away.

As of last night, the Stampeders were still fielding offers from teams intent on being No. 1 while VP of football operations Tom Higgins would love a Canadian starter in exchange before the draft kicks off at 9:30 a.m. this morning.

"As of this evening, we're going to go to bed with the No. 1 pick but it's still a very good possibility it could get traded," Higgins said.

"It would have to be an early morning call and it wouldn't be off base that even if we make our selection, somebody might still want to make a deal.

"You might be making the assumption that's Lumsden but I can't guarantee that's who everyone in the league is coveting or would like to have.

"Everybody else is playing it close to the chest, too, not really telling us what they want. If we're going to give something up, we've got to get something else in return that makes sense to us.

"We could end up keeping all six of our picks, too, and end up very well."

Rumblings last night suggested more deals were in the works.

The Edmonton Eskimos were rumoured to be interested in shipping receiver Terry Vaughn to Ottawa, which holds the No. 2 pick in the first round today.

Unless Higgins gets the asking price for the first pick overall, the Stampeders could call Laval defensive lineman Miguel Robede's name with the opening selection this morning.

The two-time CIS all-star could step in as a backup DL and see plenty of action on special teams with the potential to earn a starting role one day.

"I would be pleased. It would be good for my ego," the Montreal native told Sun Media about the potential to go first overall. "But I don't have any preferences. I would go anywhere."

University of Calgary Dinos offensive linemen Tim O'Neill and Evan Haney, along with running back Jess Butterfield, have all drawn some interest from various CFL clubs.

Although no University of Calgary players were invited to last month's CFL combine in Ottawa, Dinos head coach Tony Fasano said until they walk onto a CFL field, nobody knows what his players can provide.

"That's always the best test -- what coaches call the eyeball test -- get them on the field and see if they can play," said Fasano, Dinos coach since 1996. "Kids look a lot different with their pads on than without and I think that's the ultimate test."

O'Neill is 6 ft. 3 in. but rather light at 271-lb., while the 6-ft. 4-in. Haney weighs in at 285.

"There's been lots of calls but it's still difficult to say if any of them will get drafted," Fasano said. "You're always excited for the young men because they work so hard when they get here and are excited for a chance to play at the next level."


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