Bomben trade nets starter for Ticats

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Ryan Bomben’s commute to work just got a whole lot shorter.

The Burlington native was traded from the Montreal Alouettes to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats less than 90 minutes before the start on Tuesday’s CFL Draft. The 27-year-old, who is expecting his first child this summer, lives 10 minutes from Tim Hortons Field.

And he grew up a Ticats fan.

“My grandpa and my Dad are from Hamilton so I went to quite a few games growing up,” Bomben said. “This is a new road and I’m looking forward to it.”

At 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Bomben played 72 career games over four seasons with the Alouettes after being taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and has started at guard, tackle and tight end. It was that experience and versatility that led Ticats general manager and head coach Kent Austin to send the No. 8 and No. 24 picks in Friday’s draft to Montreal in exchange for Bomben.

“The key point is that he’s proven. If you look at the first round picks over the past five years and who is actually playing and starting, or even still playing, it’s pretty revealing,” Austin said. “I think the price tag was more than worth it.”

With Bomben on board, the Ticats will now be in position to play three Canadian offensive linemen, something they weren’t able to do last season. He joins centre Mike Filer, guard Peter Dyakowski as the projected starters inside with veteran Tim O’Neill and youngsters Carson Rockhill and Joel Reinders for depth.

If there’s a risk for the Ticats in acquiring Bomben, it’s in his contract: he’s slated to become a free agent after this season and could command a hefty raise on the open market. The Ticats are clearly hoping Bomben will want to stay home now that he’s here.

Hamilton native Daryl Waud was taken by the Toronto Argonauts with the No. 12 overall selection, though the defensive tackle has been invited to a Washington Redskins mini-camp this weekend. McMaster linebacker Nick Shorthill was taken with the next pick, going 13th to the Alouettes.

With their picks at No. 18 and 20, the Ticats selected pair of linebackers in Montreal’s Byron Archambault and St. Mary’s Jonathan Langa, then took another, Ron Omara of St. FX, at No. 29. They join fellow Canadians Fredo Plesius and Beau Landry as solid special teams contributors who could develop into potential starters on defence. Plesius and fellow special teams stalwarts Arnaud Gascon-Nadon and Neil King are slated to become free agents at the end of next season and Austin said that was a factor as well.

“We feel all those players are football players that can help on special teams and compete for a roster spot,” Austin said. “We have guys that are going into their option year of their contracts,”

Langa was one of five players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs at the CFL combine in March. He was found to have both methandienone and stanozolol in his system and was banned from CIS play for four years. If he makes the Ticats this season, he will enter the league’s drug program as a first-time offender and be subjected to mandatory drug testing but won’t miss any playing time.

“We were concerned about it but we also believe there is redemption for everybody,” Austin said. “There needs to be a balance between accountability and grace. We feel very comfortable with his explanation and where he’s at with it all.”

With a pair of back-to-back sixth round picks, the Ticats selected McNeese State defensive end Everett Ellefsen at No. 51, and UBC wide receiver Dan English at No. 52. With their final pick, Hamilton took yet another linebacker, Western’s Preston Huggins at No. 61.

Bomben learned of the trade from Alouettes general manager Jim Popp, then had a quick conversation with Austin. It was a lot to take in, even if the calls were coming to his cell phone that already has a 905 area code.

“Leaving those guys in the Montreal locker room, that’s the tough part,” Bomben said. “I’m sure when the dust settles I’ll be excited about playing at home in front of family and friends. But right now, I’m in shock.”

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