April 30, 2021

2021 Draft Preview | Part 2

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea, general manager Kyle Walters, assistant GM Ted Goveia and defensive backs coach Jordan Younger during the CFL combine at the Varsity Stadium in Toronto, ON, Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL)

It is a Canadian Football League Draft beset with even more intrigue, unknowns, and question marks than usual.

But amidst all that uncertainty there is one given – as much as there can be in the annual Canadian talent grab — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will hold on to their third overall pick in next Tuesday’s draft rather than wheeling and dealing to move or stockpiling more picks by trading down.

“We’re comfortable with where we’re at,” said Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters in a media conference call Friday. “I don’t anticipate us moving out of #3. I think we’re going to get a really good football player.

“Obviously you listen (to offers), but nothing’s been serious at this point in regards to trading up, but that might pick up.

“There will be some conversation between now and Tuesday that if a player that a team behind us really, really likes and they want to move up to #3 then we’d obviously listen to them and see. But it would have to pretty much knock our socks off at this point.”

Bombers at the Draft Preview: Part 1

The Bombers hold picks in each of the six rounds in next week’s draft – 3rd, 16th, 21st, 34th, 39th, and 48th overall.

All seven Canadian starters from the end of 2019 return in offensive linemen Pat Neufeld, Michael Couture and Drew Desjarlais, running back Andrew Harris, receivers Nic Demski and Drew Wolitarsky and defensive tackle Jake Thomas.

The club did trade Cody Speller to Toronto before he was scheduled to become a free agent – he replaced an injured Couture in the Grey Cup run – and saw Jonathan Kongbo go to the NFL, while defensive backs Derek Jones (B.C.) and Kerfalla Exumé (Montreal) left in free agency, as did receiver Daniel Petermann (Ottawa), while linebackers Thomas Miles and Brandon Calver, fullback John Rush and defensive backs Jeff Hecht and Dexter Janke and long-snappers Chad Rempel and Maxime Latour weren’t re-signed.

All that said, five of the seven picks from a year ago – minus linebacker Kyle Rodger and cornerback Bleska Kambamba, both of whom have walked away from the game – will be in camp to help offset those losses, while the team also added veteran long-snapper Mike Benson in free agency.

Walters & Co. are keeping a close eye on the NFL Draft as it unfolds through the rest of this weekend. A number of Canadians figure to be selected or signed as priority free agents or undrafted free agents afterward.

All of that will impact the Bombers final CFL Draft rankings, which Walters said will be finalized Monday.

“The number of Canadians that are going to get NFL looks this year is unprecedented and on top of that there’s a number of Canadians that are going back to their schools that might get NFL looks a year from now,” Walters said.

“What’s different this year where teams are trying to figure out is the use of the ‘futures’ picks. A lot of the top-calibre players have declared that they’re heading back to their NCAA schools. So, you’re going to get a good football player, but you’re not going to see him for a year, and is there going to be NFL interest in a year. It’s a little more challenging than in drafts past where you knew the players would all be coming out.

“You combine that with the number of players that are in this draft that are coming out that are legitimate NFL-opportunity players and there’s probably 12-13 names of players that are in that mix of you’re not exactly sure if or when you’re going to see them.”

BLUE NOTES: The Bombers added to their receiver training-camp depth on Friday with the signing of American Carlton Agudosi.

Agudosi (6-6, 220, Rutgers) was most recently with the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, spending the season there before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019.

Agudosi played 45 games in his career at Rutgers, recording 35 receptions for 513 yards and two touchdowns.