Nine Ti­cat things to go draft­ing with

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW EDWARDS

Here are nine things worth know­ing about the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats and the 2017 CFL Draft will take place on Sunday, start­ing at 7 p.m.

1. In or­der to get a sense of what the Ti­cats might do on draft day, it’s use­ful to un­der­stand their ra­tio sit­u­a­tion. The team has a num­ber of start­ing-qual­ity Cana­di­ans — team’s need to field seven na­tion­als among their 24 of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive play­ers — but they are spread all over the field.

Five spots are a vir­tual lock to fea­ture a Canuck: three of­fen­sive line­men (Bran­don Reven­berg, Mike Filer, Ryan Bomben); a de­fen­sive tackle (Ted Lau­rent) and a de­fen­sive back (Court­ney Stephen at safety.) After that, it gets a lit­tle tricky.

The team will likely start at least one Cana­dian re­ceiver, choos­ing from Mike Jones, Gio­vanni Aprile, Spencer Watt and Felix FlaubertLussier. They could also start two, though that seems un­likely given the tal­ent and depth. They could also start two Cana­dian de­fen­sive tack­les (Mike Atkin­son), a de­fen­sive end ( Justin Capic­ciotti.) a linebacker (Ter­rell Davis or Nick Shor­till) or a sec­ond de­fen­sive back (likely Craig But­ler.) In a pinch, they could try four Cana­dian of­fen­sive line­men though the un­ex­pected re­tire­ment of Mathieu Gi­rard likely ru­ined that pos­si­bil­ity.

2. Be­cause the ra­tio is such a dog’s break­fast — there’s lots of good stuff in the bowl but it’s kind of a mess — the Ti­cats could use some help at any and all of the above po­si­tions, gath­er­ing some much-needed depth be­hind their starters. They’ve also lost some key spe­cial team contributors, guys like Frederic Ple­sius (traded to Mon­treal) as well as

Beau Landry and An­thony Wood­son (via free agency.)

3. Given all that, the Ti­cats could likely use a Cana­dian of­fen­sive line­man, a re­ceiver, a de­fen­sive line­man to shore up their ra­tio spots, then ad­dress some of those other spots with what­ever picks they have left. The good news is there’s some qual­ity guys where Hamil­ton needs them the most.

4. On the of­fen­sive line, Justin Se­nior and Ge­off Gray are the topranked prospects but both are get­ting NFL looks (Se­nior was drafted, Gray signed as a pri­or­ity free agent) so tak­ing them is some­thing of a gam­ble. The Ti­cats have, gen­er­ally speak­ing, shied away from se­lect­ing play­ers with clear NFL op­por­tu­ni­ties after tak­ing de­fen­sive end Brent Ur­ban in 2015 (who has yet to play a down in the CFL and likely never will.)

Dar­iusz Bladek is con­sid­ered by many to be the most pro-ready while Ma­son Woods and Braden Schram could also be can­di­dates. On the de­fen­sive line, UCLA’s Eli Ankou signed with the Tex­ans while Faith Ekak­i­tie could be the first over­all pick to Win­nipeg. Mon­treal’s Ju­nior Luke might make a good pro­tege for Lau­rent.

5. At re­ceiver, the feel-good story would see the Ti­cats se­lect McMaster prod­uct Danny Van­der­voort and he cer­tainly makes some sense for them, es­pe­cially if the Ti­cats want to have the op­tion to start two Cana­di­ans at some point this sea­son. Hamil­ton has also shown an affin­ity for big body guys who can help on spe­cial teams and play­ers like UBC’s Alex Mor­ri­son and Saskatchewan’s Ju­lian Lynch would fit the bill.

6. Other guys who could fit into Hamil­ton’s ra­tio align­ment and spe­cial teams needs in­clude linebacker Cameron Judge, full­back An­thony Gos­selin and running back Johnny Au­gus­tine — again, back­ups and de­vel­op­men­tal play­ers in spots where the Ti­cats al­ready have qual­ity Cana­di­ans.

7. The Ti­cats have picks at No. 4, 13 and 21 in what’s con­sid­ered to be a tal­ented but not par­tic­u­larly deep draft. They traded their fourth round and sev­enth round picks to Saskatchewan as part of the deal that sent Cana­dian de­fen­sive tackle Lin­den Gay­dosh and Amer­i­can re­ceiver Tommy Streeter to Saskatchewan for in­ter­na­tional of­fen­sive line­man Xavier Ful­ton and Capic­ciotti. Ful­ton re-signed in Hamil­ton and Capic­ciotti is still here as well while Streeter was re­leased and Gay­dosh has yet to suit up for the Rid­ers.

8. Kent Austin, vice-pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, has swung draft day deals in each of the last three sea­sons and two of those trans­ac­tions have paid im­me­di­ate div­i­dends up front.

The 2015 deal that sent the team’s first-round pick to Mon­treal net­ted them guard Ryan Bomben, an East all-star the last two sea­sons, while a swap with the B.C. Li­ons last May al­lowed them to se­lect Bran­don Reven­berg, who blos­somed into a starter in his rookie year.

What’s clear is that Austin and com­pany will wheel and deal if there’s a player they re­ally want.

9. Based on all that, what does The Spec­ta­tor think the Ti­cats are go­ing to do?

Draft an of­fen­sive line­man in the first round then try and trade up to grab Van­der­voort, who may not be there by the time Hamil­ton picks again at No. 13. After that, look for them to fill in the gaps at the ob­vi­ous spots where they need Cana­dian depth.

Hamil­ton has shown an affin­ity for big body guys who can help on spe­cial teams.

HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

Will the Tiger-Cats make a play to draft McMaster Ma­rauder re­ceiver Danny Van­der­voort Sunday?

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