Kyle Walters and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have nine chances to improve their roster tomorrow evening.
The Bombers select twice — fourth and fifth overall — in the first round of the CFL Draft. They then possess picks in the middle of the next seven rounds.
While the Bombers aren’t desperate for Nationals anywhere on their roster, here are the positions Kyle Walters should look to draft.
The CFL Draft is often used to select offensive linemen in order to fill ratio requirements. In the last nine drafts, only twice has there been a first round with less than three offensive linemen selected.
For Winnipeg, they lost their top two National offensive linemen in the off-season in Matthias Goossen (retirement) and Sukh Chungh (B.C.). The Bombers also didn’t come to terms with Qadr Spooner (Edmonton), a 2017 second-round pick.
With inexperienced but promising Nationals (e.g., Couture, Geoff Gray and Cody Speller) on the Bombers offensive line, selecting an offensive lineman with NFL potential makes sense.
Walters could use one of the fourth, fifth, or 14th picks on a player who could spend some time in the near future on an NFL roster, hoping that he’d eventually come and play in Winnipeg.
Possible candidates in the 2019 CFL Draft: Drew Desjarlais, Windsor; Zach Wilkinson, Nothern Colorado; Jesse Gibbon, Waterloo; Alex Fontana, Kansas; Kyle Saxelid, UNLV; Zack Williams, Manitoba; Shane Richards, Oklahoma State.
While it’s not flashy, CFL drafts are also a good method to shore up the defensive line.
With Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat and Craig Roh at defensive end, Winnipeg attempt to grab an interior defensive lineman rather than adding to the end position.
The Bombers likely won’t start a National at defensive tackle but would be wise to select someone who could work their way into becoming a starter.
Currently, seven-year veteran Jake Thomas and free agent signing Maxx Forde make up the Bombers entire Canadian presence on their defensive line.
There’s a handful of linemen, and tackles, in the draft too. Included is Mathieu Betts, who is a talented pass rusher who recently signed with the Chicago Bears, and could fall in the draft to Winnipeg.
Possible candidates in the 2019 CFL Draft: Mathieu Betts, Laval; Robbie Smith, Laurier; Jonathan Kongbo, Tennessee; Vincent Desjardins, Laval (defensive tackle); Connor Griffiths, UBC (defensive tackle); Nate Anderson, Missouri (defensive tackle).
Losing Taylor Loffler to Montreal hurts Winnipeg considerably.
The Bombers will either role with one of their experienced special teamers, Jeff Hecht or Derek Jones, at safety, a massive downgrade from the three-time all-star in Loffler.
After not grabbing either Tunde Adeleke or Anthony Thompson in free agency, Winnipeg needs an upgrade at safety.
Walters selecting a safety in the mid rounds of the draft who could develop behind the two CFL veterans would be the best move here.
Possible candidates in the 2019 CFL Draft: Jamie Harry, Ottawa; Hakeem Johnson, Western; Fraser Sopik, Western.
The Bombes have a solid group of National linebackers, but most line up at the weak-side position.
Returnees Jesse Briggs, Shayne Gauthier, and free agent signing and hometown player D.J. Lalama fall into that category, while Thomas Miles plays middle.
The Bombers could use a few more special teamers, which back up linebackers heavily contribute to. Preferably, Winnipeg adds a strong-side linebacker who could also move around in the backfield.
Possible candidates in the 2019 CFL Draft: Jacob Janke, York; Fraser Sopik, Western; Nate Robinson, Missouri; Philippe Dion, Western; Ben Von Muehldorfer, St. Francis Xavier; Gordon Whyte, St. Francis Xavier.
Winnipeg will likely start three Canadian receivers in 2019, and they have the talent to do so. Two of the potential 2019 starters are from the Bombers first two picks in the 2018 draft, Rashaun Simonise and Daniel Petermann.
With three National starters at receiver, Winnipeg would only have one back up National receiver.
This draft class is loaded with talent at receiver as well, meaning the Bombers could draft for best available over need and take a receiver in the first round, since the majority will go quick.
Possible candidates in the 2019 CFL Draft: Justin McInnis, Arkansas State; Hergy Mayala, Connecticut; Kaion Julien-Grant, St. Francis Xavier; Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Laurier; Chris Osei-Kusi, Queens; Brayden Lenius-Dickey, New Mexico; Shai Ross, Manitoba.
The Last Word
Expect Winnipeg to draft an offensive and defensive lineman with two of their first three picks and a receiver with the other.
Aside from the top three, Winnipeg should really look at safety. Picks 25 or 34 is an ideal spot to select either Jamie Harry or Fraser Sopik.
As for the rest, expect Winnipeg to select some depth linebackers and a few more linemen.
Hometown running back Brady Oliveria and offensive lineman Zack Williams (Manitoba Bison) could be available at 14 for the Bombers too, and it wouldn’t be surprising for the Bombers to select one of the two.
As for Manitoba Bisons, Derek Dufault, Trysten Dyce, Tariq LaChance, Reid McMorris, Jamel Lyles and Shai Ross all have strong shots at getting drafted.
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