Clawing their way back

Dylan Barker (left), Dimitri Tsoumpas (centre) and Keith Shologan are among the top-ranked players...

Dylan Barker (left), Dimitri Tsoumpas (centre) and Keith Shologan are among the top-ranked players for the CFL draft. (SUN MEDIA FILES)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

The misnomer about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is they need help in all areas.

"That's not really true. Hamilton needs Americans everywhere," said Duane Forde, a former Calgary Stampeder and now CFL analyst for TSN.

"They're not in bad shape when it comes to Canadians. They have a lot of young Canadian talent."

That could throw an interesting wrench into today's CFL Canadian college draft.

The Ticats are set to pick first overall and again at No. 8. Last night, they shipped the No. 9 selection -- their third pick in the early stages of the draft -- to the B.C. Lions.

In return, Hamilton received American-born defensive back Markeith Knowlton and kicker Ara Tchobanian of Ottawa.

There's a possibility the Tiger-Cats could still deal the No. 1 choice for more established veterans to give themselves a better chance to improve on last season's 3-15 record.

The Stampeders own the third overall choice -- and all six of their slots in that very spot in the six-round draft -- and expectations are they'll zero in on offensive linemen.

"I would think they'll have to look at offensive linemen, but the other position they probably need help is with Canadian linebackers," Forde said. "With them releasing (Scott) Coe, not that they have to start a Canadian, but I don't know how comfortable they are with the guys they have in the long-term.

"At receiver, they just signed (2007 draft choice) Kevin Challenger and should eventually get Jabari Arthur (who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs). It wouldn't surprise me if they went after a receiver, but my feeling is the number-one priority is offensive line."

If the Stampeders want to look at the skill positions, there won't be a shortage of players to choose from when they make their first-round selection. Defensively, the potential is there for safety Dylan Barker -- although he could be the No. 1 selection -- or defensive lineman Keith Shologan, an Edmonton product who signed a free-agent contract with the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

Offensively, candidates include wide receiver Giguere, who signed a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, or fullback Rolly Lumbala, the Calgarian who signed with the Miami Dolphins.

"To me, he's the one that could end up staying available the longest because he's the player best-suited to the NFL," Forde said of Lumbala.

"He's got a decent chance at sticking. Besides, it might not be worth taking a fullback very high, because in the CFL game you're talking about a player who, with the offences teams run, may be on the field for only 10 plays a game."

The Edmonton Eskimos have the second pick, and Forde believes their focus will be similar to Calgary's. That could mean Edmonton will nab offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas, although they're also thin at linebacker.

"They plan to have Agustin Barrenechea replace A.J. Gass, and if they go that route, they'll need to find a back-up Canadian linebacker," Forde said.


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