NFL signings shrink CFL prospect pool

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 PM ET

The CFL draft goes this weekend, and teams will now have to think twice about a handful of top prospects who went south over the weekend.

No Canadians were chosen in the NFL draft, but at least five signed free-agent deals and a sixth reportedly has a chance to do so as well.

That will make them big question marks this Sunday when CFL squads pluck the top Canuck talent, according to Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack.

“If somebody signs with an NFL team, you’re going to be reticent,” Mack said Sunday.

“Their (NFL) camp won’t start until the end of July and you’re already into your season, so you essentially won’t have that player for this year. So would it have an effect? Sure.”

The Bombers took a chance in 2007 when they took defensive tackle Corey Mace with the 11th overall pick, even though he had signed a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills two days before.

Mace ended up sticking with Buffalo, and Winnipeg traded his rights to Hamilton in September 2008 in the Zeke Moreno deal. Mace still hasn’t played in the CFL.

The No. 3 prospect in this year’s CFL draft, Concordia linebacker Cory Greenwood, was reportedly negotiating with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs over the weekend, while the player at No. 10, Bishop’s receiver Shawn Gore, signed with the Green Bay Packers.

The No. 11 prospect, Waterloo offensive lineman Joel Reinders, inked a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns.

Three other players who weren’t among the CFL scouting bureau’s top 15 talents, Concordia offensive linemen Kristian Matte, Regina receiver Jordan Sisco and Wilfrid Laurier defensive lineman Chima Ihekwoaba, signed with the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, respectively.

“I’m a little bit surprised that that many guys signed as free agents, to be honest with you,” Mack said.

Duane Forde, TSN’s resident draft expert, opined last week that the Bombers should have had interest in both Gore and Ihekwoaba.

LATE HITS: The Bombers unofficially have 68 players under contract. Mack said most of his off-season player gathering is complete, save for a few open spots should someone attractive become available … A few players on Winnipeg’s negotiation list were plucked in the NFL draft, but Mack said they were ones he expected would go … Kicker Troy Westwood is still on Winnipeg’s roster, but Mack said he is “under the impression” that the 43-year-old is going to retire … The Kelly Butler situation still isn’t resolved. The 6-foot-8, 350-pound offensive lineman’s contract with the Bombers was voided last month because he was still under contract with the Arena Football League’s Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. Butler has told Mack that he will get his release from the AFL team, but Mack is still waiting for that to happen … NFL mini-camps begin this week, which means the five Bombers who signed contracts this off-season will get to strut their stuff. Defensive backs Jonathan Hefney (Detroit), linebacker Derrick Doggett (Pittsburgh), receivers Titus Ryan (Dallas) and Dudley Guice Jr. (Indianapolis), and defensive end Pat MacDonald (Seattle) all signed NFL pacts and will be Bomber property if they get released.


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