May 20, 2016

Bombers on Couture: ‘We couldn’t wait to call his name’

Johany Jutras/

WINNIPEG — Kyle Walters sat at the edge of his seat.

His team had yet to make a pick in the 2016 CFL Draft, last year losing its first round selection through the supplemental draft in order to select Garrett Waggoner.

More and more hopeful with every passing pick, the Bombers’ general manager knew exactly who he wanted with the ninth and 10th overall selections.

Prepared for any and all scenarios by that point, all Walters could do was wait.

“The way we prepared and had it, you go through all the multiple scenarios and we said we weren’t going to move,” said Walters. “We knew we were going to get a couple of good players at nine and 10, we just didn’t know who.

“We were going to let the draft unfold and the way it kept going and when those two guys were available we were really excited.”

First Crop of 2016 Draft Picks inked

Offensive lineman Zachary Intzandt, defensive lineman Rupert Butcher and linebacker Frank Renaud agree to terms.

Virginia defensive lineman Trent Corney and Simon Fraser offensive linemen Michael Couture fell to the Bombers at nine and 10 respectively, players many had pegged as first round picks. While five out of eight first round picks were offensive linemen, some Bombers personnel, including Offensive Coordinator Paul LaPolice and Offensive Line Coach Bob Wylie, had Couture as the top player on the board.

Walters recalled hoping Couture would fall and realizing, as time passed, there was a legitimate chance it would happen.

“We thought very highly of Michael Couture and it was a very tense time in there as it kind of felt and looked like he might drop,” said Walters. “We were kind of sitting on the edge of our seats and couldn’t wait to call his name when it came our turn.”

The Bombers’ veteran GM had said going in that his team could draft from a position of strength — deep enough on the roster to select the best player available rather than pick by need. Yet with only four Canadian offensive linemen signed up, the selection of the 6-foot-4, 292-pound O-lineman addressed a pressing need.

On top of that, though, Walters said he believes he’s getting a top-notch prospect, one that probably wouldn’t have been out of place in the top few picks of the draft.

“Every team in the CFL wants to add some Canadian offensive linemen to their roster,” said Walters. “There were five or six that we figured were going to go in the first round so we weren’t exactly sure if one was going to fall.

“When an offensive lineman that you think that highly of is available, you take him regardless of where in the draft and we’re fortunate that one of the O-linemen we really liked was available.”

“We were kind of sitting on the edge of our seats and couldn’t wait to call his name when it came our turn.”
Kyle Walters

Johany Jutras/
Tough and physical; strong and athletic were words Walters used to describe Couture’s game — different than the bigger, thicker Laval offensive linemen, three of which went in the first round.

“He carries his weight in a different way,” said Walters. “He’s 295 pounds but he almost looks lean and thin. Strong kid, moves well but the biggest thing is his toughness and his physicality.”

And he’ll likely play an important role on the Bombers’ O-line from the outset; if not as a starter then as a much-needed national in the rotation. Couture has played every position on the offensive line and while the Bombers will be patient with his development, he’ll be ready to contribute if needed.

“He’s going to get a chance to get lots of reps,” said Walters. “He’ll push all the guys that are here, he’ll come in and learn and he’ll develop.

“You can take a deep breath from a depth standpoint because now you have five Canadian O-linemen competing for those three spots.”

The Bombers added two key cogs to their O-line each of the last two years, taking Matthias Goossen and Sukh Chungh with second overall picks. Couture comes less highly touted but is another important piece of the puzzle as the team looks to shore up what’s long been considered a weakness.

“It takes a little bit so he’s not going to be rushed into it which is nice,” said Walters, “but to get another high draft pick on the offensive line whether he’s playing this year or next year — we’re excited about that.”