Stamps stock up at draft

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 AM ET

When the phone rang and Dave Dickenson was on the other end, Brad Sinopoli was startled.

The University of Ottawa quarterback went through the CFL evaluation camp and draft process without any indication the Calgary Stampeders were interested in him.

So getting taken in the fourth round (29th overall) by the Stamps came out of left field, especially when their offensive co-ordinator called.

“To be honest, I ruled them out for picking me because I hadn’t heard from them,” Sinopoli said.

“When there is a lot of talk about being athletic and being able to switch positions, it’s exciting to hear I will get a chance at being a quarterback. A legit shot as a quarterback is awesome to hear.”

Turns out Stampeders GM-head coach John Hufnagel was full of head-turning moves on Mother’s Day.

First, he pulled off a six-pick trade with the B.C. Lions to get the third overall selection, which he used to take University of Calgary Dinos receiver Anthony Parker — the top-ranked receiver in the draft.

With the ninth-overall selection, the Stamps took Bishop’s defensive lineman Junior Turner, the first player at that position taken.

When the Stamps’ third pick (14th overall) came up, Hufnagel shipped it to the Edmonton Eskimos for defensive lineman Brian Bulcke, who was the sixth overall selection a year ago.

And in the fifth round, Hufnagel took another Dinos product in running back Matt Walter.

Although Walter will return to school and won’t show up until next season, Hufnagel had him as his top-rated running back.

Overall, it was a great day for the Stamps as they filled needs by getting their top-ranked players at four different positions.

“Every draft board is different. You would have eight different ones if you compared the teams,” Hufnagel said.

“We acquired four of our top 12 selections, so maybe we did have some luck. There were also some in the top 12 I would like to see with the Stampeders also. I’m greedy, I guess.”

The most eyebrow-raising pick was that of Sinopoli, who won the Hec Crighton trophy as the top CIS player this past season.

The problem is Canadian quarterbacks are a rarity in the CFL.

While Hufnagel evaluated Sinopoli with his staff, he implored them not to see him as a Canadian and just a quarterback.

His skills made him look as someone who could play in the CFL.

“He has a strong arm with good technique,” Hufnagel said. “He understands the pro game and sees the field well. I’m excited to get him to camp, and he will win or lose a job on his own merit.”

Of the drafted players, only Walter isn’t expected to be in training camp.

Bulcke is waiting out the NFL lockout to see if he can get an offer down south. The Stanford product plans on playing this year, and his best option might be the Stamps.

The Stamps also took a fullback-tight end with their sixth pick — Jared Manchulenko of the Burlington Braves — and defensive lineman Akwasi Antwi (Mount Allison) in the fourth round.

For the first time since 2002, the Stamps didn’t grab an offensive lineman but Hufnagel is hoping to have 2010 picks John Bender and J’Michael Deane arrive in time for camp.

“We have a few other players looking at the NFL as we all know,” Hufnagel said. “I’m very, very, very optimistic they will be Calgary Stampeders in the near future.”


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