EDMONTON - When you’re playing poker, sometimes you just get a run of great cards.
In the 2011 draft of Canadian football players, Edmonton Eskimos GM Eric Tillman just drew a third ace.
This morning he’ll get to improve on what has the potential to be one of the greatest hands the Eskimos have ever been dealt in draft history.
“Six months ago, when we hired Kavis Reed as head coach and talked about the importance of Canadian content, who would’ve dreamed his first club would have the benefit of three first-round draft picks?” said Tillman.
Three weeks ago, selecting second and fifth in the first round, the Eskimos took still- unsigned offensive lineman Scott Mitchell and newly signed receiver Nate Coehoorn.
In this morning’s supplemental draft they’ll get another one in either Kito Poblah or Ted Laurent.
“If both these young men had been in the regular draft three weeks ago, they not only would have been first rounders but among the top four picks,” said Tillman.
“These are two terrific football players. They both can be multi-year starters in our league.
“The supplemental draft has produced some very good players through the years, like Jeremy O’Day and Noel Prefontaine, but it is really unusual to have two players of this magnitude in the same draft,” said Tillman.
The supplemental draft is a baffling bit of business.
There is a separate draft for each individual player and it works in reverse order of the normal draft, with teams bidding the loss of a pick next year.
In this draft there are four players — two of whom are certain first rounders: Poblah, a 6-foot-2, 215-lb. wide receiver from Central Michigan who had receptions in 36 consecutive games for the Chippewa’s and Laurent, a 6-foot-1, 304-lb defensive tackle from Ole Miss.
The expectation is that it’s going to cost Winnipeg and Edmonton next year’s first-round draft choices to get one of them.
Classification isn’t based on where the players were born; it’s based on the number of years they lived in Canada prior to their 15th birthday.
If the player lived seven of his first 15 years here, he could apply to be eligible for the supplemental draft.
The league and the players’ association have to review each case and agree on which players qualify for non-import status.
Poblah and Laurent both moved to the U.S. after being born in Canada and living here for more than the required number of years.
Each had to submit extensive paperwork and neither was cleared in time to be in the regular draft.
“Now, suddenly, two elite players are available,” said Tillman.
“If we and Winnipeg both choose to do so, and we most certainly will, we can each pick one of the two.”
All indications are that the Bombers, who drafted his cousin and Central Michigan teammate Carl Volny in the regular draft, will take Poblah, who caught an impressive 154 passes for 15 touchdowns in his college career.
That would leave the Eskimos with Laurent.
And that would be a good fit, considering Tillman is an Ole Miss alumni and that it was his phone call that was part of the impetus to get the player’s non-import process rolling.
“If Kito falls to us, look at the improvement in our Canadian receiving corps,” said Tillman.
“In one off season we would have added Chris Bauman, Nate Coehoorn and Kito Poblah.