Lining up replacements

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

The Calgary Stampeders needed a heavy dose of Canadian talent and they found it in yesterday's draft.

Of the six picks the Stamps made in the CFL Canadian college draft, four will ply their trade along the line of scrimmage.

Only one of those -- first-overall pick Miguel Robede -- doesn't play on the offensive side of the ball, as the Stamps stocked up for the future with big men.

Many trade overtures were made to senior VP of football operations Tom Higgins and GM of player personnel Jim Barker for the top pick but none was enough to pry the 6-ft. 3-in., 280-lb. Robede from their grasp.

Although the Stamps already have Canadians Sheldon Napastuk and Randy Chevrier in Robede's position, Higgins couldn't pass on the monster quarterback chaser who anchored the two-time Vanier Cup champion Laval Rouge et Or.

"Sometimes you draft the best player available and sometimes you draft for need," said Higgins.

"This is both. He was the best player available and, in one or two years, it addresses a need.

"He's a beautiful addition because he played so dominantly at Laval.

"Laval has had great success and it's showing up in the Canadian college draft."

Five Laval players were taken in total, a record from a Quebec conference school. The only University of Calgary Dinos player selected was offensive lineman Tim O'Neill, who went in the third round to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Highly touted McMaster running back Jesse Lumsden, who has already signed with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, fell to No. 6 where his hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats jumped at him.

In the next four rounds after selecting Robede, the Stamps stocked up on o-linemen, taking heavyweights Godfrey Ellis (300 lb., Acadia), John Comiskey (295 lb., Windsor) and Kyler Jukes (280 lb., Regina).

Higgins doesn't expect any of the new hogs to start this season but all will be groomed as future replacements for veterans such as Jay McNeil and Jamie Crysdale.

"We don't have to kill the front-line guys in practice," said Higgins.

"We can get a lot of reps to the young guys and hope they in turn develop and there's a progression of offensive lineman two or three years down the road."

With its final two picks, Calgary went for Manitoba defensive back David Hewson and Alberta receiver Brett Ralph.

Higgins went with family pedigree twice yesterday, as Ralph is the younger brother of Brock Ralph, a receiver last season with Edmonton who recently signed with the New York Jets. And Comiskey's older brother is Dan Comiskey, a veteran o-lineman who was with Edmonton the past few seasons.

By getting Ralph, a Raymond product, with the 45th overall pick, Higgins said he may have unearthed a gem.

Hewson didn't test well in the 40-yard dash at the combine last month in Ottawa but Higgins also expects him to compete for one of the 19 non-import positions. If he does make the team, it will be primarily as a special teams player.

There aren't many vacant positions on Denny Creehan's defence and a fifth-round pick won't strike fear into the returnees.

But Higgins doesn't discount anyone's chances at training camp.

"There's a lot of later-round players on this football team," he said. "We did choose athletes and when you do that, you always have a chance.

"You can still work to be developed but you're only given so many years to make it happen.


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