Trade winds were blowing hard on Saturday night, just 12 hours before the start of the CFL draft.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who will make St. Francis Xavier linebacker Henoc Muamba the first overall selection on Sunday morning, reported several times on their Twitter feed Saturday there is plenty of interest in their No. 4 overall pick.
A source told the Sun the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes were leading the charge to pluck the No. 4 pick out of the ’Peg, and The Gazette reported late Saturday the Als were offering Canadian offensive lineman Dylan Steenbergen, the seventh choice in 2009, and this year’s eighth overall selection.
The speculation, however, is Winnipeg will keep No. 4 and grab whomever remains of the big four: Muamba, Rice offensive lineman Scott Mitchell and Calgary receivers Nathan Coehoorn and Anthony Parker. Harvard’s Marco Iannuzzi is also a possibility there.
It’s believed the Bombers want a receiver since Kito Poblah won’t be in the CFL supplemental draft, but it’s hard to see them passing on Mitchell if he’s still there.
They are apparently not as sold on Parker as they are on Coehoorn, but most around the CFL feel Parker is still a prime prospect who has more room for growth being three years younger than his Dinos teammate.
Regardless of what happens, the Blue and Gold are still sitting pretty. They will get a solid prospect at No. 4, or they will add either another player and/or more picks in an effort to improve their Canadian foundation after a dismal 4-14 season in 2010.
The Bombers also have selections in the third round (17th overall), fourth (24), fifth (32) and sixth (41). It will mark just the second time since 1996 they have had as many picks as there are rounds (six).It also happened in 2008, when they got Brendon LaBatte, Aaron Hargreaves, Don Oramasionwu and Pierre-Luc Labbe.
“Around here the general feeling is excitement,” Bombers draft co-ordinator Kyle Walters said. “It’s such an exciting spot to be in, and the phone’s ringing off the hook with everybody calling and wanting (higher picks).
“So it’s exciting times around here. We didn’t have that last year.”
As for Muamba, who arrived in Winnipeg on Saturday night, Walters toed the party line and wouldn’t confirm they were picking him.
He did rave about his abilities, however.
“He’s very explosive, that’s the thing,” Walters said. “When I was at the East West Game at this time last year he stood out just with how physically impressive he looked, and it was backed up on all the film we watched.”
The Bombers held their breath when they got to the evaluation camp in March, and Muamba didn’t disappoint.
“He tested lights out,” said Walters, who added Muamba will play middle linebacker if the Bombers take him.
The best chance for a Manitoban to get picked on Sunday is Winnipegger and Bisons linebacker Thomas Hall, who is a projected late-round selection or free-agent signee.
LATE HIT: Winnipeg is already thinking about the 2012 draft, landing a conditional sixth-rounder from Edmonton on Friday in exchange for cornerback LaVar Glover.
The Bombers needed a sixth-rounder because two years ago it traded its original to Calgary for Kelly Bates.
Glover had two interceptions in 12 games for the Bombers last year before suffering a season-ending groin injury in September.
LOOKING BACK ON NUMBER ONES
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have the first overall selection in the CFL draft for the first time since taking offensive lineman Steve Scully in 1975. A look at the last 10 players who were taken first overall.
2010 — Shomari Williams, Saskatchewan
The Queen’s product started three games at defensive end in his rookie year, notching 15 tackles, eight special teams tackles and a fumble recovery.
2009 — Simeon Rottier, Hamilton
He played tackle in university at Alberta, but he started three games at left guard in his rookie campaign and all 18 in 2010 at right guard (14 games) and right tackle (four).
2008 — Dylan Barker, Hamilton
The University of Saskatchewan safety missed his entire rookie season due to injury, but he led the CFL with a record-tying 37 special teams tackles in 2009. Last year he established himself as the Ticats’ starting safety and has four career interceptions.
2007 — Chris Bauman, Hamilton
The receiver had 30 catches for 370 yards as a rookie, but he never snagged a permanent starting spot with the Ticats and finished with 1,511 yards and six touchdowns over four seasons. He signed with the Eskimos in February.
2006 — Adam Braidwood, Edmonton
The defensive end had 16 tackles, four sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown in his rookie year, but he missed 2008 and 2009 due to injury and was released this past off-season due to legal trouble.
2005 — Miguel Robede, Calgary
The defensive lineman went back to Laval after going first overall, and he appeared in only 13 games over the next two seasons, failing to record a stat. Over the last three years, when he has started on a rotational basis, he has seven sacks.
2004 — Wayne Smith, Hamilton
The offensive lineman out of Appalachian State started right off the bat in Steeltown and appeared in almost every game in his first three seasons before getting traded to Saskatchewan in 2007. He appeared in 30 games over his first seasons in Regina but only one in the last two due to injury. He re-signed with Hamilton in February.
2003 — Steve Morley, Calgary
The offensive lineman out of St. Mary’s started nine games for the Stamps in his rookie year before leaving for the NFL for two years. He failed to land starting gigs in Toronto and Saskatchewan but has flourished for Winnipeg the last two seasons.
2002 — Alexandre Gauthier, OttawaThe Laval tackle appeared in only 25 games over his first three seasons with the Renegades and was released in December 2004. He hasn’t missed a game in the last five seasons for Calgary, Winnipeg and Hamilton. He signed with Saskatchewan in February.
2001 — Scott Schultz, SaskatchewanThe defensive tackle from the University of North Dakota spent parts of his first two seasons in the NFL, but he missed only one game between 2003 and 2008. He retired in 2009 with 35 career sacks in 128 games.
Follow Winnipeg’s draft day on Twitter: @PentonKirk