Blue picks come with strings attached

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will have to use a wait-and-see approach with two of their three picks in yesterday's CFL draft, but the payoff could be worth it.

The Bombers plucked University of Wyoming defensive lineman Corey Mace 11th overall and McMaster University linebacker Eugene Boakye 22nd, but both come with strings attached.

Mace, whom the Bombers believe was among the top five players in the talent pool, signed a free-agent contract with the NFL's Buffalo Bills on Monday, so there's a chance he may never play in the CFL.

Bombers head coach Doug Berry couldn't believe that Mace was still around at No. 11, which was Winnipeg's highest pick since 2000.

"We thought Corey Mace would be one of those guys somebody would take a chance with," Berry said, "and when nobody else did, as much as we'd like to bring talent in guaranteed to be at the first day of camp, we can't pass this up."

Winnipeg's draft co-ordinator, receivers coach Bob Dyce, agreed that selecting Mace was a risk worth taking.

"Here's someone who has the possibility to become a Canadian starter on your defensive line and maybe at that point is a ratio changer," Dyce said.

Mace was watching the draft online from his dad's house in San Diego, and he was thrilled to go as high as he did.

"I was sitting at the computer watching the live stream on cfl.ca and just hearing the names go past," he said. "I was willing to sit there all the way until the sixth round if I had to, but luckily my name got called at No. 11 by Winnipeg."

Mace will attend Buffalo's mini-camp next weekend, and he said the Bills see him making their practice roster or even pushing for a roster spot.

Boakye, meanwhile, is coming off a serious knee injury that may force him to miss training camp and possibly part of the upcoming season. Dyce, however, loves his size (6-foot-4, 234 pounds) and the fact that he has speed to burn.

"We were willing to take that risk," Dyce said. "Whether we get him for Day 1 of training camp or maybe it's in August, we know we've got a talented player."

The Bombers then traded their fifth-round pick to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for Canadian lineman Matt O'Meara, the third overall choice in 2005, before taking St. Francis Xavier defensive back Travis Noel in the sixth and final round, 43rd overall.

O'Meara couldn't find his way into a starting role in Regina and will provide depth behind veteran Bomber guards Val St. Germain and Andrew Greene.

And considering the Bombers traded their first-round pick to the Calgary Stampeders for starting left tackle Alexandre Gauthier in February, Berry hailed the Blue and Gold's draft day a success.

"Basically we're picking up two first-round draft choices on the offensive line (in Gauthier and O'Meara)," Berry said, "and we think we did a real good job with the picks that we had."

LATE HIT: Another one of the Bombers' NCAA negotiation list quarterbacks has received NFL interest. Wisconsin's John Stocco will attend the Green Bay Packers mini-camp as a tryout player.


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