2017 CFL draft ends long, patient wait for Bladek
The 2017 CFL draft can’t come fast enough for Dariusz Bladek.
The six-foot-four, 306-pound Bethune-Cookman University offensive lineman is expected to be an early pick Sunday night. When Bladek’s name is called, it’ll cap a long, often frustrating journey to a pro football career in Canada.
“It has been a long time coming,” Bladek, 23, said via telephone from Florida. “I’m excited about it . . . This is what I’ve been dreaming about, thinking about every hour, every minute.
“Any team that believes enough in me to select me is going to get my full-fledged dedication. No matter what pick that is, I’ll be seen as a priority and that means a lot . . . whenever you’re made a priority, that’s a really good sign.”
Winnipeg has three of the opening 15 picks, including the first- and sixth-overall selections. After Saskatchewan goes at No. 2, B.C. will make the first of its two first-round choices at No. 3 before following Hamilton, Edmonton and Blue Bombers at No. 7. Calgary and Grey Cupchampion Ottawa complete the round.
Becoming draft eligible really tested Bladek’s patience and perseverance.
Bladek was born in Florida to a Canadian mother. He divulged his roots during a conversation with the Stampeders, prompting them to say if Bladek acquired dual citizenship he could play in Canada as a national.
Americans play in the CFL but clubs covet Canadian offensive linemen. Many start at least three and some of the top performers earn over $200,000 annually.
Bladek skipped his senior college season for the ‘16 NFL draft. After being bypassed, he attended the Baltimore Ravens mini-camp but didn’t receive a contract so Bladek began the dual citizenship process.
However it was a lengthy affair, resulting in Bladek missing both the 2016 CFL draft and supplemental draft. The paperwork was finally completed in time for Bladek to participate in the league’s combine in Regina in March. He performed well enough there to finish 10th on the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-20 prospects list last month for the ‘17 draft, an improvement of five spots.