Montreal Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed has not received a formal trade offer for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 CFL draft – yet.
“We will listen. There hasn’t been a lot of phone calls. We all talk and we all give scenarios but there has not been any offers for the No. 1 pick,” Reed said after the CFL combine in Winnipeg on Sunday.
Reed spent the weekend in the Manitoba capital honing in on players who could be in the running for the top overall selection on May 3. Over 50 highly regarded prospects were in Winnipeg.
“There are some guys that are definitely starting to move the needle. We have a month and a bit still to start chopping it up again and continuing to do background research, private workouts, exploratory information, still a lot of work left to be done to make that decision,” Reed said.
“Sometimes you get players that have already peaked out and their numbers and measurables say that they’re absolutely fantastic and everyone will say I understand that pick. But all too often we have to factor in what’s best for the Montreal Alouettes long-term.”
Ideally, if Montreal does indeed keep the choice, Reed wants the player to be pro-ready.
“The No. 1 overall pick has to be someone that we feel at some point during this season will contribute and year two, year three, year four we still have him on the roster and he’s only getting better and he’s replacing someone. We’re looking for someone that we project will replace someone and make us a younger more athletic football team,” Reed said.
However, being a starter from the jump would put too much pressure on a young pro athlete says Reed –especially with the expectations that come with being a top draft choice.
“No. 1 overall at some point in the season we would like to see that person play, we’re not looking for that person to start day one, that’s not fair to the kid because a lot of these kids haven’t played CFL football,” Reed said.
“A lot of these kids are going to have to get acclimated to the rules. If we draft someone in that genre we can’t say you’re a day one starter because we’re not trying to force that. We would like that person to be a contributor at some point in the season, but we’re not looking for him to be a day one starter.”
Reed has been on the road lately, travelling to Central Michigan and Bowling Green for the pro days of top Canadian prospects, most notably receiver Mark Chapman and offensive lineman Ryan Hunter.
“I don’t want to just be normal and practice what is traditional practice. As a general manager and a decision maker, it’s very important to get out, see people, how they interact with teammates, what people around the organization say about individuals,” Reed said.
“I have made it a mandate we are not going to sign guys for the most part that we don’t see, that we don’t put our eyes on. It’s very important for us to do that because phone interviews are easy or calling a coach is easy. But with this kind of responsibility, we have to do our due diligence.”
Chapman doubled down on impressing Reed. The Chippewas leading pass catcher in 2017 during his senior season with 59 receptions and 875 yards while reaching the end zone five times put on a show at the University of Winnipeg Sunday.
“He had an extremely, extremely good pro day. We expected him to do well,” Reed said. “He’s polished as a route runner, confident in his hands, he tracks the ball exceptionally well, very explosive individual. He’s making a very strong case for himself. Everyone that we’ve spoken to – met his mom and dad – there’s just a tremendous pedigree there and tremendous young man. As he’s described himself an old spirit, the maturity is there.”
Chapman was uncoverable in one-on-ones and he knows bilingual skills could benefit him if he went to La Belle Province.
“I know they speak French there in Montreal, Quebec. I would like to go there and try to learn some French,” Chapman said. “To even be mentioned to go No. 1 in any type of professional sports it is surreal.”
Whether it’s Chapman, Hunter or another player the Als take at the top of the draft Montreal would like to have pen to paper before the selection is announced on TSN May 3.
“We have already spoken to agents of players that are potential No. 1 picks. Because of having the pick we can say where we think the landscape is going to be, what are the possibilities in terms of salary and contract structure for these players,” Reed said.
“Every one of the five guys right now, we’ll expand that list that we’ve targeted as a No. 1 guy, we’ve started to speak to the agents. We want to get a feel for what they’re thinking. You would ideally like to have that player signed right away, present it to our public. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, sometimes it doesn’t work, but we’re trying to make certain that’s the case.”
Signing in advance of the draft could benefit all parties Reed believes.
“Ideally for everyone’s sake because you want to make certain that you have the kid in working with the coaches right away to get acclimated to the pro game. You want the kid to have piece of mind that he’s going to be with his team right away. You want the staff to have piece of mind knowing that they have their guy right away,” the 45-year-old football executive said.
“That being the case, it is a business, it is a negotiation, we know that sometimes those things don’t go as planned. But we’re definitely not going to wait until draft day or a few days before draft day to start the negotiations those conversations are already being had.”