Stampeders looking long

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders are hoping to get lucky at No. 13.

But if all goes as head coach Tom Higgins expects, whether or not the CFL team hits the jackpot in today's Canadian college draft won't be know for years.

Because the Stamps traded their first-round pick to the B.C. Lions for quarterback Jason Gesser, most of the top-ranked prospects should be gone before general manager Jim Barker gets on the conference call in the second round.

So, Higgins foresees the Stamps taking a player with college eligibility left with the hopes he can make an impact down the road.

"This one in our minds is probably going to be more futures but we might end up with players coming to training camp because those futures could be gone," said Higgins. "We're looking for a pretty good blend of players who have eligibility in U.S. schools and those who don't.

"We feel fortunate we had a good off-season and then we were able to pick up some players in the dispersal draft."

Edmonton has the first pick but the big winner should be the B.C. Lions, who have three first-round selections.

The Stamps don't have as much of a need for Canadian depth as they did a year ago.

This off-season, the team has signed free agents Ryan Folk and Walter Spencer, plus added Cam Yeow and Markus Howell in last week's dispersal draft.

With 2005 first-overall pick Miguel Robede expected in training camp (a contract is in the works), a nice new group of Canadians should compete for starting jobs on both sides of the ball in 2006.

"It takes the pressure off filling needs," Higgins said. "We would like the best available but they might also fill needs not necessarily this year but for down the road.

"We feel confident in where we're at right now. We know we're not big players but it's still important because we will put as much effort in our fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks as we did last year and that proved to be invaluable."

Calgary has two picks in the fourth and sixth rounds, where Higgins hopes to unearth another gem such as receiver Brett Ralph (45th overall, 2005).

The hardest part will be the waiting as the other CFL teams make their selections before the Stamps jump into the fray.

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LATE-ROUND STAMPS PICKS THAT PAID OFF

GREG KNOX

S, Wilfrid Laurier, sixth round, 47th overall in 1992: Second in line of Canadian safeties named Greg, the others being Frers and Petersen. Helped Stamps win the '98 Grey Cup and then retired.

HARALD HASSELBACK

DT, Washington, fifth round, 34th overall in 1989: The 6-ft. 6-in. nose tackle used four strong seasons with the Stamps to get noticed by the NFL. He went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.

JAY MCNEIL

OL, Kent State, fourth round, 34th overall in 1994: Solid lineman is key to the run game, as evidenced by the track record of 1,000 rushers behind him. Still a Stamps stalwart after more than a decade.


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