The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have only one pick among the first 28 in Sunday’s CFL draft, and it will happen sixth overall.
It’s one they need to make count regardless of how many picks they have, according to director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson.
“Whether it was one in 28 or one in the first 12, it wouldn’t matter. It would be as important,” Hodgkinson said. “Within the first 12 or 15, those are likely what you like to believe are the blue-chippers.”
The Mike Kelly regime traded away draft picks in 2009 with the frequency of their predecessor, Brendan Taman. That leaves the Blue and Gold with just three selections in what experts are calling one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, although Hodgkinson said only history will be able to prove that theory.
Winnipeg would have had the second overall pick, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders chose to swap first-round picks with the Blue and Gold through last year’s Dan Goodspeed-for-Adarius Bowman trade.
They lost a fourth-rounder last week when the Toronto Argonauts decided to use their option on a pick they acquired from Edmonton that the Eskimos got from Winnipeg in the Brock Ralph deal.
The Bombers’ other two selections are in the fourth round (29th overall) and sixth (45th).
As for their first-round pick, rumours on Friday suggested the Bombers are interested in Regina Rams receiver Jordan Sisco, who is attending Indianapolis Colts mini-camp this weekend, as well as Wilfrid Laurier Hawks cornerback Taurean Allen.
From all accounts the Bombers, like most CFL teams, want Queen’s linebacker/defensive end Shomari Williams, but he is likely to be gone by the time the Bombers make their pick at six.
If Williams is gone as expected, the Blue and Gold might turn to a receiver like Sisco or Shawn Gore of Bishop’s, who got an invitation to attend Green Bay Packers mini-camp this weekend.
Both are risky propositions because of their interest from NFL teams, as are offensive linemen Joel Reinders (Cleveland Browns) and Kristian Matte (Houston Texans).
There are a few offensive linemen in the draft, like Baylor’s Danny Watkins, who have another year of NCAA eligibility remaining as well.
Hodgkinson said the Bombers, who need linebacker and backfield depth, can’t afford to scoop up players like Watkins with only three picks at their disposal.
“We’re looking more for immediate needs,” he said.
Hodgkinson said the unstable punting situations in Calgary and Hamilton could end up helping the Bombers. There is speculation that one of those squads will trade up to ensure they get Guelph kicker Rob Maver.
“You might argue and say if a trade goes down with one of those other teams, we might be picking fifth because the punter’s not going to count against who we’re interested in,” Hodgkinson said. “That’s a good thing.”