Diamonds in the rough

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Bob Dyce ran his first CFL draft for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers back in 2004, and his first pick was arguably his best.

It was a guy by the name of Jon Ryan, who just so happens to be punting footballs in the NFL these days after two superb seasons in Blue and Gold.

We bring up 2004 because it's a perfect example of just how much of a guessing game the CFL draft, or any draft for that matter, can be.

The new Bombers regime, with head coach Mike Kelly leading the way, will conduct its first draft tomorrow morning, and its first pick -- barring a trade -- isn't until the third round, 19th overall. Winnipeg has one choice in each of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

Dyce proved five years ago that you don't need high selections to land serviceable CFLers, as all four of Winnipeg's 2004 picks played in the league. One of them, backup linebacker Neil McKinlay, is still wearing Blue and Gold.

"There were guys in the first round there who didn't even last a year," Dyce, the team's Canadian director of player personnel, said yesterday. "At least every one of those four got at least two years in the league, so it's a somewhat successful draft."

After nabbing Ryan at 24th overall, the Bombers plucked McKinlay in the fourth round, 33rd overall. Then they took safety Ryan Folk in the fifth and John Sullivan in the sixth. Folk played 27 games for Winnipeg and Montreal, while Sullivan got into 17 games with the Bombers, mostly on special teams.

"In the fifth round that's all you're doing," Dyce said. "You're looking for somebody who's got a chance athletically to play in our league."

Folk and Sullivan saw way more action than five of the nine first-rounders that year -- Mark Moroz, O.J. Atogwe, Ducarmel Augustin, J-F Tremblay and Amarpreet Sanghera -- ever had in the CFL, although it should be noted that Atogwe is now a safety with the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

And the way Dyce makes it sound, this is a good year for the Bombers to not have their first-round selection, which they traded to Hamilton last September to acquire since-departed linebacker Zeke Moreno.

"Compared to last year's draft, where you could go through the first two rounds and think 16 guys could come in and compete and probably push for a starting spot or are going to be on the roster, I don't know that you have that this year," Dyce said.

"This year you probably have four or five, and after that you're getting into guys who would normally be at a lower level in the draft."

University of Alberta offensive lineman Simeon Rottier is projected to be Hamilton's first-overall selection since he has the ability to play tackle, and Bishop's running back Jamall Lee, who signed with the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Sunday, isn't expected to make it out of the first round despite inking a deal down south.

Other potential first-round picks, according to the CFL's new scouting bureau, are Laval defensive tackle Etienne Legare, Acadia slotback Matt Carter and Calgary offensive lineman Dylan Steenbergen. The top-rated Canadian in the NCAA ranks is Central Michigan defensive back Eric Fraser.

All those players will be long gone by the time the Bombers make a pick, so the Bombers, as they have had to do so often this decade, will try to land some diamonds in the rough.

Speaking of that, Dyce was chatting yesterday with Bombers receiver Arjei Franklin, who asked when Winnipeg's first pick was. Dyce told him it was in the third round, 19th overall, but he quickly pointed out that the player picked in that spot is usually no good.

Dyce said that knowing full well that Franklin, who has 104 career catches for more than 1,200 yards, was Winnipeg's third choice, 19th overall, in 2006.

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CFL DRAFT

FIRST ROUND

(Tomorrow, 10 a.m., TSN)

1. Hamilton

2. Toronto

3. Hamilton (via Winnipeg)

4. B.C. (via Toronto via Edmonton)

5. B.C.

6. B.C. (via Saskatchewan)

7. Montreal

8. Calgary

WINNIPEG'S PICKS

Third round, 19th overall

Fourth round, 27th

Fifth round, 35th

Sixth round, 45th


Photos