By Josh Smith
Last year, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats traded up from the fifth pick to the third pick to select offensive lineman Brandon Revenberg, a player who was not listed on the Scouting Bureau’s top-20 prospects. Two years ago, they selected 6,459 linebackers — that’s an exaggeration, it was only four — and traded their top pick to Montreal for offensive lineman Ryan Bomben.
Last Sunday, with the Ticats sitting with the fourth overall pick, no one knew what they were going to do. Would they select the player most fans wanted, McMaster receiver Danny Vandervoort? Maybe it would be Bethune-Cookman offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek? Instead selected University of Calgary defensive lineman Connor McGough. If you had McGough in your draft pool or mock draft, you are either the best CFL Draft handicapper alive or are lying (and my bet is on the latter). But going against the grain is the Kent Austin way, and last year’s Revenberg pick is paying massive dividends just a year removed from the draft. No one expected him to go third overall, and now he is a starter having supplanted Peter Dyakowski as one of the team’s starting guards last season. It is unlikely that the McGough pick will pay off as substantially and as quickly, but it was the beginning of a very interesting draft for the Ticats that could help clarify what their ratio situation could look like come June. McGough was just one of three defensive linemen the Ticats drafted on Sunday. The team also picked St. Francis Xavier’s Kay Okafor in the third round and Fordham’s Justin Vaughn in the fifth round. The Ticats now have the type of Canadian depth along the defensive line that could allow them to start two Canadians in their front four. With Ted Laurent already penned in as a starter, either Michael Atkinson or Justin Capicciotti could start if the team so chooses. The selection of so many defensive lineman also lessens the team’s need to start a Canadian receiver. If the Ticats do go to an all-Canadian interior defensive line, they could fill out their other five Canadian starters along the offensive line as well as in the secondary. This also lessens the blow of missing out on Vandervoort. The Ticats likely will still start Spencer Watt at wide receiver, but they don’t have to. But the defensive line wasn’t the only spot for the Ticats picked up some much needed depth, as the team selected two offensive linemen in McGough’s Calgary teammate Braden Schram and Wilfrid Laurier’s Brett Golding. There was no home run pick this year, but the same would have been, and probably was, said about Hamilton’s draft haul last year and by the end of the season Revenberg was one of the top three or four first-year players in the CFL.
Josh Smith is a contributor to 3DownNation.com, the Hamilton Spectator’s vertical covering the CFL. Check it out for full analysis of the CFL Draft.