Stamps' Hufnagel has master plan

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:30 PM ET

This time, John Hufnagel will have a bit more help on his side.

Two days ago, the Calgary Stampeders head coach/GM split up his staffers for a mock version — several, actually — of Sunday’s CFL Canadian College Draft.

“Each coach had a different team, and they were all out to screw me,” Hufnagel reported with a grin. “I picked for Calgary and everybody had a shot at my selection — good, bad or indifferent. They critiqued it strongly and heavily, and I had to justify why I picked them.

“So there was good feedback. Then we did it another time and another time.”

There’ll be no do-overs Sunday.

The Stamps own six selections in this year’s draft, including the fifth-overall pick, plus a second-rounder (No. 13), a pair of third-rounders (No. 17, No. 21) and one each in the fifth and sixth rounds (No. 37, No. 46).

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at McMahon Stadium as Hufnagel and his personnel staffers have prepared for the annual prospect grab. They’ve assessed their needs by position, assigned grades to each potential pick and even tried to get a handle on what moves other teams might be mulling.

“We spent a lot of time, had mock drafts, had arguments, did the whole nine yards,” Hufnagel said. “We have a good feel of what we want to accomplish. Now, we need some good fortune and some good luck in accomplishing it.”

The Toronto Argonauts are expected to snag Queen’s linebacker Shomari Williams with the first-overall pick. After that, it’s a total crapshoot.

Saskatchewan will select second, with the B.C. Lions making the third choice and the Roughriders up again in the fourth slot. Then, Calgary is on the clock.

The off-season departures of kicker Sandro DeAngelis (Hamilton Tiger Cats) and offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas (NFL, Miami Dolphins) leave a couple of big holes for Hufnagel to fill, prompting speculation the Stamps might roll the dice on top-ranked kicker Rob Maver of Guelph or Washington State behemoth Joe Eppele, an offensive lineman.

If a highly-touted prospect like Concordia linebacker Cory Greenwood slides down the draft board, though, the Stamps could call an audible.

There’s no doubt he has a master plan, but Hufnagel isn’t tipping his hand.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that we need a kicker and that we need a young offensive lineman,” Hufnagel said. “But I think the most important thing in not to detract from our overall philosophy, which is early in the draft, especially in the first round, you have to take a player that you feel very comfortable that will come in and compete for a starting spot.”

In Hufnagel’s first season as the boss at McMahon Stadium, the club picked Tsoumpas and fellow offensive lineman Jesse Newman in the opening round. In 2009, he used his first-round selection to add safety Eric Fraser, who returned to Central Michigan University for his senior season but is expected to step into the Stamps’ lineup this summer.

Offensive linemen Jon Gott and Steve Myddelton, defensive linemen Fernand Kashama and Osi Ukwuoma and linebacker Tristan Black are also products of Hufnagel’s past two draft classes.

After countless hours of preparation and discussing different scenarios, the Stamps head honcho is ready for the real thing.

“If you don’t enjoy it, then you’re not in the right business. In actuality, that’s your lifeline,” Hufnagel said. “That’s why we do an extensive amount of work on the draft.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos