In the midst of a global pandemic, the Calgary Stampeders are looking to restock the shelves in the 2020 CFL draft.
The question: how do you fill them when they are already near capacity from your previous trips to the store?
The Stamps currently have 30 national players on the roster, 22 of which were picked up at the annual meat market known as the CFL draft. It’s easier to list who wasn’t drafted by the team than the other way around.
That means Calgary currently has 18 players on their roster who were drafted in the third round or later. Even more of a surprise is that only four of them were drafted in the second round or higher.
Simon Gingras-Gangnon, Sean McEwen, and Connor McGough were all drafted elsewhere in the CFL. Rene Paredes, Ronnie Pfeffer, Micheal Klukas, Riley Jones, and Malcolm Thompson were all undrafted talents that made the roster. The rest had their name called by John Hufnagel on draft day.
The Calgary Stampeders enter Thursday’s draft with the first overall pick and a total of nine selections throughout, with six in the top 35.
If the Stampeders hold on to the No. 1 one pick, it seems likely they will use it on Jordan Williams. At the moment, last year’s starting middle linebacker Cory Greenwood remains unsigned and is 34 years old. Williams would fit in nicely in a linebacking corps that includes Riley Jones and Fraser Sopik as national backups.
Linebacker is a position of need for the Stamps as well, potentially, given Nate Holley’s situation. Last season’s rookie of the year nominee has filed a yet-to-be-heard grievance with the CFLPA. He was not released to pursue NFL opportunities despite some of his teammates being given that chance.
Look for Hufnagel to try and duplicate his past success in finding a first-round linebacker who was suddenly draft-eligible because his mother was born in Canada.
There are currently eight offensive linemen with a Canadian passport, which means the team has pretty substantial depth along the line of scrimmage. Two of them are starting after being drafted in the fourth and sixth-rounds in Brad Erdos and Shane Bergman, respectively. If a big man gets picked by Calgary on Thursday, one of three selections between 26 and 34 is likely where the Stamps select a blocker.
Defensive line could potentially be addressed at pick 15 if Sam Acheampong (Wilfrid Laurier) or Cameron Lawson (Queen’s) are still on the board. Injuries to Junior Turner and Derek Wiggan proved costly last season and increased depth at defensive tackle would be welcome.
The team signed McGough to be a rotational defensive end in the off-season, but with Wiggan earning a starting spot at tackle, more interior depth is likely a priority for the Stamps’ braintrust with only 2019 second-round pick Vincent Desjardins currently listed as a backup.
Hufnagel has chosen receivers at the top and bottom of the draft with a former eighth-round pick in Richard Sindani earning starting reps along with a former first-round pick in Hergy Mayala.
The free agent losses of Juwan Brescacin and Lemar Durant in successive years have weakened a strong national presence within the Stamps’ receiving corps. Look for Hufnagel to balance that out in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Some intriguing options include Tyler Ternowski (Waterloo), Kian Schaffer-Baker (Guelph), and Brendan O’Leary-Orange (Nevada).
At the same time, given that the No. 1 one pick came via trade for the rights to Nick Arbuckle, it’s possible that Hufnagel could wheel and deal on draft day if the right price is there.
He traded for the first overall pick that became Pierre Lavertu in 2014 and moved up to select Randy Colling in 2017. If the right move is there, Calgary could be willing to move down.
The Stampeders pride themselves on drafting players that they believe will fit their system. Given the level of success in identifying and developing talent, expect for Hufnagel to make some shrewd picks toward the lower round of the draft.