Esks will take the best player

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:23 PM ET

EDMONTON - With the CFL draft less than a month away, just who are the Edmonton Eskimos looking to take?

General manager Danny Maciocia has some simple specifications.

“The best player,” he said following the release of the CFL’s Scouting Bureau’s latest rankings of Canadian amateur players this week.

“There are quality football players there,” Maciocia said of the list, topped by Queen’s linebacker and Vanier Cup champion Shomari Williams.

“Everybody’s going to take a look at them differently based on needs and based on whether they need a player in a year’s time because they feel they have enough imports or not enough Canadians on their roster,” Maciocia said. “It all depends on what the situation of that particular team is going to be.”

The Eskimos, then, are in a good position by not having to focus on a particular need heading into the draft. Instead, they’ll decide which athlete is the best available when their first pick rolls around in Round 2, ninth overall.

“We are definitely going to pick the best player,” Maciocia said. “And if those players are not there, then we’re going to start looking at areas of concern.

“That’s what the draft is all about. Some of these guys are not going to come in and impact your football team on Day 1, but down the road they can.”

As is the case with Eskimos receiver Andrew Nowacki and linebacker Tim St. Pierre, who contributed much more than their Canadian-content fulfillments last year.

“And that’s what we’re looking for from guys like (offensive linemen Greg) Wojt and (Gord) Hinse,” Maciocia said of the Eskimos’ top picks in 2008 and ’09, respectively.

None of the 15 players on the list are a surprise to Maciocia, who attended the e-camp in March.

“I think the list is a fairly accurate reading of what’s out there right now,” he said.

Other players who made an impact there were Bishop’s receivers Shawn Gore and Steven Turner, along with kicker Rob Maver.

“Yeah, and he’s pretty good,” Maciocia said of the first kicker to attend the e-camp in nine years.

Turner burned up the 40-yard dash in a record 4.31 seconds and was a half-inch shy of tying B.C. Lions Jamal Lee’s vertical leap of 44 inches.

“Turner, he came in and he surprised a lot of people by running a 4.31 40,” Maciocia said of the performance, which shaved 0.08 seconds off the former record that was also set be Lee a year earlier. “He improved his stock.”

For the second year in a row, TSN will broadcast the first two rounds of this year's CFL Canadian Draft on May 2 from 10 a.m. until noon.

“Between now and then I’m sure some of the teams are going to be working these guys out again and trying to get some more film and trying to talk to their coaches, trying to find out if they can play on special teams,” Maciocia said. “It may adjust the rankings again, but for the most part the names that you’re reading are guys that are going to be drafted early.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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