The CFL Draft is generally a time where hope springs eternal.
The promise of a new season, the arrival of new talent. Everyone is always feeling pretty good.
This year’s draft will be one like no other in league history after the cancellation of the 2020 season and the status of the 2021 season still up in the air.
Predicting what teams might do seems like an impossible task and that feels especially true for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their general manager Jeremy O’Day.
At the best of times, O’Day generally runs a pretty steady ship, opting to take the best player available in the draft. He’s also taken the occasional flyer on a guy who may or may not ever come to the CFL from the NFL in the later rounds.
This year, the Riders have the second overall pick and if I had to bet on what O’Day might do, I’d expect that he’ll be making a selection rather than trading down.
“What’s different in this draft is it’s the second draft class in a row. We already have a full draft class coming in,” said O’Day.
“So, the idea of adding picks in a year where you don’t know what the roster size will be and you already have a draft class coming in, I guess you could argue it’s not necessary to add more picks.”
Who might the Riders take? Well, despite play-by-play man Derek Taylor’s best effort in a video call with reporters, O’Day wasn’t tipping his hand.
“We have a name in mind. When you’re not picking number one you’re never guaranteed that you’re going to get the guy that you think you’re going to pick,” O’Day said.
Of course, anything a GM says leading up to a draft should be taken with a grain of salt as games are always being played in the media by teams trying to keep each other guessing.
Considering this year’s draft will be a snake draft, meaning the draft order reverses every round, there certainly could be an argument made for dealing the number two overall selection to move down and have a smaller gap between picks.
“I was so pro-snake draft before they did the random draw and then after that I said I think we should go back to the traditional way of drafting,” joked O’Day.
“Because it’s a snake draft, you can argue that anywhere you pick is going to be a legitimate spot. I think it’s fair for all teams.”
Considering the CFL draft, generally speaking, adds more to the team’s depth rather than offering up franchise-altering players, selecting later in the first round and early in the second could definitely be seen as a positive.
As for O’Day’s overall draft strategy, he’s often taken the best player available rather than draft from a position of need and that very well could continue this year.
That’s mostly thanks to the team’s improved Canadian depth over the last few years, as O’Day doesn’t feel like there’s a pressing need at any one position. He did suggest the age of some starting Canadians could play a role in who they select too.
O’Day does feel that this year’s draft is deep at linebacker, defensive back, and offensive line, all areas where the Riders generally play Canadians. So, he could end up killing two birds with one stone.
This year, the Riders do have a starting Canadian spot to fill with the departure of linebacker Cameron Judge to the Toronto Argonauts, but O’Day suggested he wasn’t married to the idea of starting a Canadian at linebacker. That spot could shift elsewhere on the field depending on how things shake out.