Overall, it seems Chris Jones didn’t change his overall approach to the draft his second go around.
A year ago, Jones made some safe picks but also took some risks by taking some guys who were likely headed to the NFL for a few years.
This year, Jones had similar ideas when he took linebacker Cameron Judge and offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek in the first and second rounds respectively as both should be able to help right away. Judge is someone who should be able to contribute on special teams off the bat. There are some questions surrounding where he might fit defensively in the future, but for the time being, he’s a guy that can add depth behind Henoc Muamba. Bladek is an easy pick as the Riders badly need some Canadian depth along the offensive line. The retirement of Chris Best left them with a hole to fill. Even if Bladek was out of football last year, he could be in the mix as, at least a backup come June.
Through two rounds, it’s hard to fault the picks Jones made but after that, things got a little weird. Without a pick in the third round because of last year’s supplemental draft, Jones went with offensive lineman Eddie Meredith. On paper, nothing wrong with taking another lineman. The problem? His status seems pretty unclear. According to 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk, Meredith retired from football and even said on the post-draft 3DownNation Podcast that Meredith is down to 225 pounds. According to the Riders official reporter, Ian Hamilton, Jones said that Meredith is interested in returning to football. If that is the case, there’s a long road ahead of the former Boston College Eagle. Considering Meredith didn’t appear to be on any other teams radar, he probably could have been selected later or even signed as an undrafted free agent. That said, at 6’6″ and should his 315 pounds return, then this pick makes all of the sense in the world.
He didn't play last season, but Chris Jones said Meredith wants to play again after clearing up health and school issues.
— Ian Hamilton (@IanHamilton45) May 8, 2017
On it’s own, taking a risk on one player isn’t too big of a deal. However, like last year, Jones decided to take a flyer on a guy who is headed to the NFL for the time being when he selected tight end Anthony Auclair. Auclair signed a deal with Tampa Bay recently and thanks to some upfront money, he’ll be there for at least a year. Taking players like Auclair isn’t that big of deal for a team with plenty of Canadian depth, the thing is the Riders need all of the depth they can get right now. Jones has his seven starters, but the ranks behind those guys need an upgrade, taking players who will be at training camp in June would go along way to help.
Mitchell Picton, Alex Chevrier, Danny Sprukulis, Emmanuel Adusei and Marc Glaude seems like decent picks but it’s hard to say what kind of impact they’ll have on the team, if they even make it, as the CFL draft can be one of the biggest crapshoots in sports.
This draft could turn out to be a good one for the green and white, but plenty of things will have to go their way for that to happen. If not, then the team will continue to struggle with Canadian depth.