Bombers look for a sleeper

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

They will have to stay awake a long time trying to find a sleeper this morning.

Barring a trade, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will sit through three full rounds before making their first pick in today's CFL Canadian Draft because they do not choose until third in the fourth round.

"That's the joke whenever I see any of the other guys at the combine," Bob Dyce, the club's Canadian college draft co-ordinator said yesterday. "They say they're going to call my cellphone to make sure I'm still awake before it's our turn to pick."

The Bombers do not consider the exercise a joke, despite dealing away so many of their choices.

"We won't be sitting around eating doughnuts waiting for our turn," said Bomber GM Brendan Taman. "We will be analyzing each pick pretty thoroughly."

Winnipeg's first pick came in the third round last year and that choice, punter Jon Ryan, made the team. So did linebacker Neil McKinlay, selected in the ensuing round.

"As long as you do your homework, maybe you can find what they call your sleeper pick," Dyce suggested. "I can't say we really had a dud pick last year so, we did a good job."

The Bombers also plucked safeties John Sullivan, who returns to training camp this year, and Ryan Folk, who wound up in Montreal.

"It's a very serious event and we are preparing for it as if we are picking first overall," Taman said. "We need to get good players out of it.

"Realistically, we'd like to get a special teams player and an offensive lineman, if the right one's there."

Toledo offensive lineman Nick Kaczur is the consensus top prospect but has already been drafted by the NFL (New England).

"I don't know if it's necessarily frustrating or tougher not having a first-round pick, especially in a year like this where there's not the 10-12 guys at the top who will be immediate contributors in the league," Dyce said. "Nos. 2-53 are not as good as most years. But you still have to do your homework no matter where you pick. It's just as difficult picking at the bottom half of the draft as it is at the top."

Making life even more difficult is that the Bombers only have three picks.

"So, we want to make sure our three picks are worthwhile," Dyce said. "If a team has 10 picks, it can afford to make mistakes. We can't afford any errors."

Others considered among the top prospects include McMaster running back Jesse Lumsden, Laval defensive lineman Miguel Robede and Duke offensive lineman Chris Best. Dyce figures University of Manitoba Bisons linebacker Scott Mennie will be taken by the third round but the Bombers could have a shot at his teammate, defensive back David Hewson. And they would consider him.

Will Dyce get a reward if he does discover another sleeper or two?

"I do get a bonus," he said. "I get to keep coaching here."

No matter who the Bombers draft, you are guaranteed to hear at least one thing:

"You can quote me right now for Friday's paper," Taman said. "We were surprised that he was still there."


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