Top draft pick Peter Godber likes look of B.C. Lions

Both the beauty and biggest pitfall of the CFL draft was inadvertently laid out in one enthusiastic outburst as the newest top college selection of the BC Lions spoke about a former teammate who now shares more common ground.

Rice University offensive lineman Peter Godber of Toronto spoke with passion when asked about his two seasons of practice playing across the line of scrimmage against Christian Covington.

“We had lockers next to each other,” recalled Godber. “Whenever we’d have one-on-one pass rushes against each other the coaches would say ‘it’s a battle of Canada — Toronto vs. Vancouver. They’d hype it up… He’s a great player. He’s doing great things with the (Houston) Texans right now.”

Covington, in fact, figures to be doing good things in the NFL for the foreseeable future and the talk about the Surrey product only served as a reminder he is yet another previous gamble by former general manager Wally Buono, taken by the Lions three years ago in the fifth round.

The good news for the Lions is that new general manager Ed Hervey shouldn’t have to wait for the 6’3”, 300-pound Godber to reach the twilight of his career before he plays three-down football north of the border again. In fact if they are really fortunate, the Lions might have someone to contest a glaring vacancy at right guard at training camp in Kamloops in a couple of weeks.

Hervey followed Buono’s well-established pattern of taking at least one player who currently has his eye on the NFL, third-round pick David Knevel, who hopes to contend for a spot on the offensive line of the Saints and Raiders in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, however, Hervey addressed needs at almost every non-import position during his first Lions draft. He took defensive lineman Julien Laurent with his recently-acquired seventh overall pick, denying he acquired the choice Wednesday with an eye towards moving both first-rounders to move up in the draft.

Handing the Lions’ 2019 first-rounder to Winnipeg will be mitigated, Hervey said, by a more aggressive approach in free agency next spring, assuming there’s  a draft to even discuss given the prospect of labour unrest.

Godber, meantime, sounded anything like a player who is willing to roll the dice on the NFL with a possible starting spot not far from his grasp, though took a prudent approach by suggesting he’ll take nothing for granted.

“I’ve got to go in with the right mindset,” Godber said. “I set high goals. In college i wanted to be a four-year starter and I started for three years. I’m going to BC with high goals again but everything is earned, nothing is given.”

The loss of the first-rounder notwithstanding, Hervey seemed convinced that in Godber and Laurent the Lions could soon have a pair of players who could contend for a starting spot. In one sense, it’s a contest to see which picks develop quicker. Buono had the same third and seventh spots last year. Receiver Danny Vandervoort hasn’t yet panned out but defensive lineman Junior Luke, who went seventh in 2017, could be part of a rotation with the likes of Laurent, Maxx Forde and David Menard.

“We did a pretty good job of getting the players we targeted in positions we felt needed an upgrade,” Hervey said. “Our interior offensive and defensive line was an area where we were concerned about depth and physical play. These young players will provide a bit of a spark.”

What remains to be seen is whether that spark includes the release of one or two more veteran players as the remake of the Lions under Hervey continues to become evident. Covington won’t be part of the mix but an enthusiastic former Rice teammate could soon be part of the future.

LIONS TALES: Hervey said he has been in contact with the agent for former Lions linebacker Micah Awe, who cleared NFL waivers after being released by the New York Jets on the weekend, as well as former Edmonton linebacker Dexter McCoil. In 2014, Hervey signed McCoil, who parlayed his two seasons with the Eskimos into a stint with two NFL clubs prior to being released this week by the 49ers… Godber is represented by Washington DC-based agent Jonathan Hardaway, who has a reputation as a hard-bargainer, but Hervey said he’s worked well with the agent previously, something Buono could not always claim.. “I do fair deals. I’ve worked out deals with Mr. Hardaway. It doesn’t get personal with me,” said Hervey. “It’s all how you manage you’re cap. If you manage your cap with the expectation that something could happen late, there’s a strong possibility (of a deal).”


Lions picks: 3. OL Peter Godber (Rice/Toronto); 7. DL Julien Laurent (Georgia State/Toronto); 16. FB/LS David Mackie, (Western/Jackson’s Point, Ont.); 21. OL David Knevel (Nebraska/Brantford, Ont.); 34. DB Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (Wilfrid Laurier/Hamilton); 47. DL Rashari Henry (Wilfrid Laurier/Ottawa) 54. WR Will Watson (UBC/Semiahmoo)
B.C.-bred picks: 5. Saskatchewan, OL Dakoda Shepley (UBC); 12. Winnipeg, WR Rashaun Simonize, (UCalgary/Vancouver); 31. Hamilton, WR Marcus Davis (UBC/Victoria) 37. Hamilton WR Justin Buren (SFU/Coquitlam) 54. Watson
UBC/SFU selections: 5. Shepley; 31. MDavis; 37. Buren; 42. Calgary, DB William (Dagogo) Maxwell (UBC/Calgary) 54. Watson

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.