Stamps coach eyeing draft options

Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel is busy prepping for the CFL Draft on May 3. (Al Charest/QMI...

Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel is busy prepping for the CFL Draft on May 3. (Al Charest/QMI Agency/Files

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

CALGARY - John Hufnagel might be prepared to roll the dice at next week’s CFL Draft.

But not with his first-round pick.

The Calgary Stampeders GM/head coach said Wednesday he would be surprised if the top available player — Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford — was selected in the opening round.

Crawford is expected to be a high draft pick in Thursday’s NFL draft.

“That is a mystery,” Hufnagel said when asked where Crawford would be selected north of the border.

“I would be surprised if he went in the first round, unless the team has multiple first-round picks.

“When you see him as a player, the NFL has him pegged pretty well.”

The Edmonton Eskimos (second and sixth overall) and B.C. Lions (fourth and seventh) are the only teams with two first-round picks. The Stamps are picking fifth.

Hufnagel said Crawford and other NFL-bound prospects are attractive, if you can afford to wait for them.

“You try to do as much investigation as possible so you know what the risk is when you’re picking that player,” Hufnagel said.

“If we picked a player or players who didn’t show up on May 20 for the start of rookie camp, I would be able to sleep at night.

“Because if he does become a Calgary Stampeder and wear a red jersey, you know he has a chance to become a very good football player.

“With our Canadian depth, I think we can afford to take that chance because the risk versus reward is so great.”

With the NFL expanding rosters by 10 players for training camp, CFL teams are forced to wait longer than usual for the top-end talent to show up.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders hold the No.-1 pick in the May 3 draft and could be leaning toward local offensive lineman Ben Heenan.

Hufnagel said he put his first list together Wednesday and would hold the first of several mock drafts Friday.

The Canadian Draft can be difficult to guage because of players’ NFL aspirations, but Hufnagel said it’s a huge day for his team.

“I think it’s the backbone of your organization,” he said. “Of the 42-man roster, 20 of them are going to be on the field for you.

“It’s always a guessing game. But of the draft picks we have made, a lot of them have been productive.

“I’m very pleased with last year’s draft. I did not expect them to play as much as they did. But because of injuries and other situations, they were on the field a lot more than I had expected and I thought they did a great job for us.”

The Stamps have a league-high nine draft picks, while the Riders have just three selections in the entire draft.

“It’s nice to have the nine draft picks, which is three more than any other team, but my phone’s not ringing off the desk because people want my fourth- or fifth-round draft picks,” Hufnagel said.

On Twitter: SUNScottFisher


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