Take your pick!

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

There are no philosophical changes to the Edmonton Eskimos' draft plans -- even though they won't get involved in the lottery until the halfway point.

Unless a trade is made in the next two days, the Esks won't have a pick in Thursday's 2005 Canadian College Draft until the third round.

They have the 22nd selection after giving up their first two picks last season in the deal that brought them defensive lineman Clinton Wayne and offensive lineman Patrick Kabongo. Still, the Esks are keeping close tabs on who they could get, be it early or late.

"There are a lot of players in this league who were taken in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth rounds so you've got to make sure you do your homework," said Rick Campbell, the Eskimos' defensive secondary coach.

"We're very happy we gave up our top picks to get Wayne and Kabongo. If we had to do it all over again, we would in a second. They are both quality guys and if they were in the draft this year, they'd both be first-rounders."

The Calgary Stampeders have the No. 1 pick followed by Ottawa, which selects again at No. 5. Saskatchewan holds the No. 3 and No. 4 selections. McMaster's record-setting running back Jesse Lumsden is the consensus choice as the best player available for the first pick, but he signed with Seattle as a free agent.

TALENT GRAB

After picking 22nd, the Esks have the fifth choice in Rounds 4-6 (picks No. 31, 40 and 49). Campbell doesn't see any significant holes the team needs to fill, meaning the Esks will stick with the standard way of doing business during the annual talent grab.

"The best rule to follow is to take the best guy available," said Campbell. "There are 53 guys who are going to be taken and we've found at least that many. You just can't miss anybody. There's always going to be a surprise pick and a sleeper in the late rounds who ends up being a good player.

"Mike Bradley wasn't drafted and he's going into his third year with us. Dan Comiskey wasn't drafted and he was an all-star. You can't fail even with your sixth-round pick."

The Eskimos aren't likely to get a sniff at a player like Lumsden or offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, who was grabbed by New England in the third round of Saturday's NFL draft. And with a slightly less impressive list of talent available this year, the selection process will be under the microscope to a greater extent.

"The chances of us seeing Lumsden or Kaczur are slim to none but we've got them on our list and they'll be crossed off as they're taken. We'll just take the highest-ranked guy who's still on the list," added Campbell.

"It happens in the NFL and with hockey -- there are some years that are stronger and some that are weaker. There's usually a group of high-end players ... seven or eight, and this year there are some very good players who will play in the CFL but maybe the quality isn't as high end or as exciting as in past years. But there are still a lot of players in the CIS and NCAA who are definitely capable of making the roster."

TOP PROSPECTS

Among the CIS prospects who are potential first-rounders are: Saint Mary's running back Les Mullings, Queen's slotback Iain Fleming, Laval defensive lineman Miguel Robede, Saskatchewan slotback Nathan Hoffort, Fabio Filice of McMaster and defensive lineman Ryan Gottselig. David Lowry and NCAA transfer Brett Ralph are the top candidates from the U of A Golden Bears.


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