Esks using camp to build 1-2 plan

The Eskimos obtained the services of Ted Laurent last year by using their second-round pick in the...

The Eskimos obtained the services of Ted Laurent last year by using their second-round pick in the supplemental draft. (QMI Agency)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

This weekend, football players are the ones being evaluated. In two months, the ones who are doing the evaluating will get their turn.

The Edmonton Eskimos are identifying the top prospects at the CFL Evaluation camp this weekend in Toronto.

But at the CFL draft on May 3, their choices will be the focus of much fan scrutiny.

And their decision heading in will be whether to draft the best athlete available, or base their picks on improving specific positions.

The Eskimos have a pair of first-round selections (second and sixth), due to the trade in December that sent Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts.

“With the No. 2 position, we’re going to be very judicious about how we select that,” said head coach Kavis Reed, whose squad took Rice offensive lineman Scott Mitchell in the same spot a year ago. “The discussion is, do we take best athlete regardless of position, or are we position-specific?

“We haven’t yet gathered enough information to say that we’re going to be position-specific yet with those two first (round) picks.”

Normal CFL convention dictates the draft is most useful to fill spots along the line of scrimmage, and if a team is lucky, pick up a skill-position player.

Either way, the Eskimos are going in with two top choices in mind and leave the decision up to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are picking first overall.

“Essentially, it will probably work that way,” said Reed, whose club gets to make two opening-round selections for the second year in a row. “It’s a good position to be in. It’s also a very high-pressure situation in terms of you have to make certain that you are very critical in your vetting process.

“Those are high picks that you don’t want to make a mistake on.”

Edmonton’s second-round pick has already been used to get defensive tackle Ted Laurent in last year’s supplemental draft

The decision proved to be a steal, as Laurent evolved into the starting nose tackle in Rich Stubler’s 3-4 defence, while the Eskimos held onto both of their first-round picks in the upcoming draft.

The Eskimos also dealt their 2012 fourth-round pick for special-teams non-import standout Delroy Clarke, and their sixth-round pick (along with their sixth-round choice in 2013) for promising offensive lineman and Alberta’s own Dylan Steenbergen.

General manager Eric Tillman also craftily ended up with a free offensive lineman from a conditional deal with the Calgary Stampeders last season. “In the Junius Coston deal, they got nothing. All we did was trade positions in the sixth round with Calgary. And actually, they get nothing out of the deal (because) we finished better than them.

“All they would have done is move up in the sixth round. And we traded that pick to get Dylan Steenbergen.”

But, as always, it’s a case of what-have-you-done-lately when it comes to the CFL draft.

“Last year’s draft was, in my opinion, a very good draft,” said Reed, who took Rice offensive lineman Scott Mitchell and Calgary Dinos receiver Nate Coehoorn in the first round (second and fifth overall). “I think those players, some in the long term and some in the short term, proved that we were correct.

“I think this year, as well, is going to be vitally important for the club to have a stable Canadian foundation on which to build”

The league’s RONA Canada Day Kickoff has Ray and the Toronto Argonauts visiting Commonwealth Stadium on June 30.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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