Rolling the dice

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

The scorecard isn't pretty.

In the last nine years, only two first-overall picks in the CFL Canadian college draft have become outstanding players in the league.

While the jury is still out on the two most recent first-overall choices, history shows the rest of the selections since 1997 have been mistakes.

But it's not easy to identify and select a bona-fide all-star player in the first round.

"It's definitely not a science," said Edmonton Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

"You do your homework and hope it all works out. Sometimes your sixth-round pick turns out to be a better pick than your first-round (selection)."

So many factors come into play after the college draft that can ruin a player.

The Eskimos hold the first pick today.

Here is the scorecard on the nine most recent players who topped the draft.

1997 - Chad Folk, Toronto.

All-star selection.

The Argos hit the jackpot with the hulking centre. Folk has played nine straight years in Toronto and was the club's most outstanding lineman in 1999 and 2004.

1998 - Tim Fleiszer, Hamilton.

Wrong choice.

A dependable but not flashy defensive lineman with two Grey Cup rings in nine years, Fleiszer is now in Edmonton after making stops with three other teams.

But he will never compare with Ben Cahoon - a two-time Most Outstanding Canadian and perennial 1,000-yard receiver - who was selected sixth overall.

1999 - Robert Meier, B.C.

Complete bust.

Unfortunately for the Lions, they wasted a rare first-overall pick on Meier.

The Washington St. defensive end has never played a game in Vancouver - but he has been a great addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He registered six sacks last year and has dressed for 91 games in six years.

2000 - Tyson St. James, Saskatchewan.

Major disappointment.

The linebacker from UBC played just three years in Regina and registered just 14 defensive tackles before signing in Winnipeg. He's now out of the league.

In stark contrast, Adriano Belli - the sixth overall choice - continues to be a major force on the Hamilton defensive line.

2001 - Scott Schultz, Saskatchewan.

All-star selection.

The Riders got it right with Schultz, a CFL all-star at defensive tackle last year.

2002 - Alex Gauthier, Ottawa.

Costly error.

Gauthier lasted less than three years before the Renegades cut him. He's now the right tackle in Calgary.

Making the choice look even worse, Ottawa passed on Jason Clermont, one of the top inside receivers in the league.

2003 - Steve Morley, Calgary.

Major bust.

The offensive lineman from St. Mary's played only 11 games for the Stamps before fleeing to the NFL. He played for the NY Jets last year.

2004 - Wayne Smith, Hamilton.

Good choice.

Smith could develop into one of the anchors on the Tabbies' offensive line. He has dressed for every game during his first two seasons.

2005 - Miguel Robede, Calgary.

School's out.

Has yet to play a game in Cowtown because he returned to school last year.


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