Argos trade up to make bold draft pick

Argos GM and head coach Jim Barker traded up to select a player with one more year in the NCAA and...

Argos GM and head coach Jim Barker traded up to select a player with one more year in the NCAA and a chance to play in the NFL. (ALEX UROSEVIC/Toronto Sun files)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:33 AM ET

Tyler Holmes might never wear an Argonauts jersey.

But there’s a chance the 305-pound Ottawa native will and, because of that possibility, Jim Barker made a bold move on draft day.

The Argonauts general manager/head coach traded up five spots to No. 7 on Sunday, ensuring he could select Holmes, an offensive lineman at Tulsa, who has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining and could have a career in the National Football League.

The Argos can’t talk to Holmes because he remains NCAA eligible.

“But we’ve talked to people who have talked to him, and you don’t make a pick like this unless you are confident,” said Barker, who traded the first pick overall a year ago. “His film doesn’t lie. He is an outstanding tackle prospect. We’ll see what happens.

“Maybe he has an unbelievable season and we don’t see him. That’s the thing that makes this draft tough.

“Sometimes you have to take some of those guys to fill your pipeline. The offensive line is a position you can’t get enough players.”

Barker wanted to go even higher in the draft, but had to settle on getting the seventh pick from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, sending the 12th and 27th picks west. Barker said he didn’t go after the Edmonton Eskimos’ second pick overall, but wanted the fifth pick, owned by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before they sent it to Edmonton. In a perfect world, Barker would have gotten his hands on one of the top three receivers — Anthony Parker, Nathan Coehoorn or Marco Iannuzzi. But when they were all gone in the first six picks, he turned to Holmes. Barker still felt the trade to move up was necessary because he thought there was a chance all three of the top futures available — Holmes, Moe Petrus and Philip Blake — would be gone by the time their 12th choice rolled around.

There was only one slam-the-table moment for the Argos in their draft warroom, when a player they coveted was selected immediately before their pick.

That might have happened when Iannuzzi went sixth to the B.C. Lions, withthe Argos knowing they could get the seventh from the Roughriders.

The Argos had to address the receiver spot and ended with three receivers among their seven picks. They made a surprise choice when they took Djems Kouame from the University of Montreal at No. 18, and were happy thatGuelph’s Jedd Gardner was there at No. 28. The Argos picked Laval’s Julian Feoli Gudino with the 38th selection. He might have gone higher had he not suffered a broken ankle late in the season.

Kouame was not invited to the CFL’s evaluation camp in March, but at another camp, run by TSN’s Duane Forde, Kouame shone.

“He never slowed down,” Barker said. “There are very few receivers you watch who can play on special teams too. We love his explosiveness out of the break, but he has to develop in terms of route running.

“Gardner might be more ready to play right now. He’s probably a little more polished. The best guy will have a great chance to make our roster.” Kouame was surprised he was drafted in the second round.

“I thought maybe it would happen in the later rounds,” Kouame said. “I know I have the talents to prove I can play in the CFL.”

Spencer Watt, Steven Turner and Mike Bradwell are the non-imports who will provide the competition with the rookies when camp opens next month.

With the chance that Adriano Belli will retire — there are whispers of a news conference on Wednesday, where the star defensive tackle is expected to announce he will retire as an Argo — the Boatmen picked two defensive linemen, going with end Alexander Robinson from Western at No. 22 and Gregory Alexandre from Montreal at No. 35.

“Even if Adriano comes back, we need to get a guy in there,” Barker said. “Alexandre and Robinson can compete and determine which one will have the best long-term payback for us.

“Those two areas, receiver and the defensive line, we attacked hard. Probably more than most years, this was a need draft for us.”

Grab an oar

A glance at the Argonauts’ seven picks in the 2011 Canadian draft on Sunday:

1. Tyler Holmes OL, Tulsa, 7th overall - Was ranked fifth in CFL scouting bureau’s final rankings.

2. Djems Kouame WR, Montreal, 18th - Quick speed and passion for the game are assets.

3. Alexander Robinson DE, Western, 22nd - In pass-rush drills at E-camp, few could stop him.

4. Jedd Gardner WR, Guelph, 28th - Doesn’t mind going into tough areas to make a catch.

5. Gregory Alexandre DL, Montreal, 35th - Third in bench-press at E-camp with 26 reps.

6. Julian Feoli Gudino WR, Laval, 38th - Might have been a first-rounder without ankle injury.

7. Michael Knill OL, Laurier, 43rd - Set bench press record with 47 reps of 225 pounds at E-camp.


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