Bryan Crawford is living, tackling proof that late-round picks in the Canadian Football League Canadian draft can become something worthy.
The Argonauts drafted Crawford 44th overall in 2005. Six years later, he has become the Boatmen’s special teams captain and led the CFL with 26 special teams tackles last season.
“I never looked at myself as a later pick at all,” Crawford said on Friday. “Sometimes you can use that to motivate, to prove that you should have been taken higher, or that you were a good choice.
“I expected to do well and make the team.”
The Argos have eight picks in the Canadian draft on Sunday. General manager/head coach Jim Barker was attempting to pry the second pick overall from the Edmonton Eskimos, and told the Toronto Sun on Friday that he will keep trying to move up until there is no longer time do so, or until he actually does. But it won’t be just to get in the top 10 from No. 12, which will mark the Argos’ first pick if Barker does not make a trade.
It’s probably going to have to be in the top three for Barker to make a swap, and if it’s not Edmonton, don’t figure it to happen. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are planning to take linebacker Henoc Muamba first overall, and the B.C. Lions, who select third, are expected to retain those picks.
“If it means just moving up three or four spots, then it does not make much sense,” Barker said. “But you have to keep working on it, and we’ll go right to Sunday morning.”
So about Crawford — he represents the importance of getting it right no matter how late a pick might be. There’s always a bit of luck involved with latter picks, and teams have to take into account their ratio numbers by position, so some players can fall.
Of the Argos’ eight selections, five are in the second half of the draft.
“A lot of it is doing the hard scouting,” Barker said. “But what you’re looking for is players who can fill out the training camp roster to give you depth, and the more picks you have, the better.
“It’s more than that, too. You’re also looking for a position-change guy. Maybe he played out of position at school, or did not play a lot.”
Barker’s slate is clean when players arrive for rookie camp. While it’s human nature to expect more from those who are drafted in the first couple of rounds, it’s not to say that expectations are lowered for guys who were taken later.
“In every guy, you’re trying to find someone who can help your team in some way,” Barker said. “It’s just that this is not an exact science, so you don’t always know (for a couple of years).”
No matter where he winds up picking, the thinking is Barker will err on the side of offence. The Argos have placed Central Michigan receiver Kito Poblah, who has not been granted non-import status and is not eligible for the supplemental draft, on their negotiation list.
The class of receivers available is fairly solid, and the Argos need help at that position. They won’t get a shot at Anthony Parker, Nathan Coehoorn or Marco Iannuzzi unless they move up, but one of Jade Etienne, Brenden Owens, Jedd Gardner, Liam Mahoney or Braeden George would interest Barker.
As for Crawford, the message for those who go late is forget about it. Crawford earned a spot on the practice roster out of his first training camp, and because of an injury to another player, he got a shot midway through the 2005 season. Just a week before, Crawford had decided to stick it out rather than return to school. Since, he has missed games only because of injury.
“It can stop and start at any time,” Crawford said, “but once I got through my first three years and my first contract, I felt like I could have a decent career.”
ARGO DRAFT HISTORY
The Argonauts have 11 players on their roster who were drafted by Toronto in the Canadian draft. A glance at each:
OL Joe Eppele, second overall in 2010
— wants more than spot duty in his second year
LB/K Grant Shaw, 11th overall in 2010
— versatility is an asset
WR Spencer Watt, 18th overall in 2010
— will challenge to start in 2011
RB/SB Steven Turner, 30th overall in 2010
— has recovered from Achilles injury
OL Michael Warner, 32nd overall in 2010
— will be in tough at camp
OL Nasser Jamal, 40th overall in 2010
— in same category as Warner
WR Mike Bradwell, 13th overall in 2008
— this could be his make or break year
DB Matt Black, 45th overall in 2008
— had 13 special teams tackles last season
OG Jeff Keeping, 18th overall in 2005
— backup role a year ago
RB Bryan Crawford, 44th overall in 2005
— led CFL in special teams tackles last year
LB Kevin Eiben, 26th overall in 2001
— no signs of slowing down at 31