A gamble the Renegades took on an offensive lineman two years ago is about to pay off.
Today, they are expected to take another, this time with a top-rated defensive lineman at stake.
When then-GM Eric Tillman selected 6-foot-5, 305-lb. Mark Parenteau out of Boston College with Ottawa's fifth- round pick in the 2003 Canadian college draft, it was a move for the future at best, as it was believed Parenteau might snub the CFL when he graduated. A renewed vigour for the game later, Parenteau has agreed to terms with the Renegades, quite possibly answering the team's prayers for a non-import to protect their quarterback's behind.
Had he expressed interest in coming straight to the CFL, Parenteau likely would have been one of the top three players chosen in the draft. There are those, in fact, who say he's a better offensive line prospect than Alex Gauthier, the first overall pick in 2002 who bolted Ottawa for a free-agent deal with the Calgary Stampeders this off-season.
"We were worried about the perimeter, at tackle," GM/coach Joe Paopao said yesterday, refusing to formally announce the Parenteau deal because he does not yet have the signed contract in hand.
"When we get it back, it gives us a chance."
Heading into this morning's draft, the talk is Paopao is set to take another chance. The Renegades, it's believed, want to pick Laval defensive lineman Miguel Robede with the second selection overall. The problem is, it sounds like Calgary plans to take him with the first.
Word from out west is the Stamps have offered to flip picks with Ottawa, or even trade down for Paopao's second choice (fifth overall) in the first round. But the sources say Paopao doesn't really expect Calgary to take Robede -- even though he is widely considered the most likely draft prospect to step in and play this season -- because the Stamps play a 3-4 defence and already have two Canadian starters on the line.
The speculation, then, is Paopao will call Calgary's bluff.
"We've looked at multiple options on how to improve our team," said Paopao, who could still trade one of his picks (perennial 1,000-yard receiver Terry Vaughn remains a distinct possibility, although Paopao says he hasn't talked to the veteran's team, Edmonton, in over a week).
"We're going to finalize our thoughts. For us, this particular year, we're going to have to look at kids who can hopefully come right in and make our roster.
"And not maybe look at futures, like we've done in the past."