The Winnipeg Blue Bombers didn’t have a first round selection last year, but they have two first round picks in Thursday’s 2019 CFL Draft. The Bombers hold both the fourth and fifth overall selections after acquiring a second-first round pick from the B.C. Lions at last year’s draft.
“It’s a nice spot to be in,” Bombers General Manager Kyle Walters said. “If we don’t do anything, I know we’re going to get two good football players at four and five.”
Of course Walters could opt to trade one of the draft picks or package them together to move up in the draft.
“If somebody really wants to come up to pick five, we’ll listen,” he said. “But we’re in a nice spot because I’m perfectly comfortable. I’m not going to move for the sake of moving, because I know we’re going to get two good players.”
It’s believed the draft is deep at both the receiver and the offensive line positions.
The Bombers are pretty much set with their Canadian pass catchers with Nic Demski, Drew Wolitarsky, Rashaun Simonise, and Daniel Petermann all returning. But the club lost two starting offensive linemen in Matthias Goossen and Sukh Chungh over the off-season.
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Walters says the top 20 picks are as good as he’s seen.
“It always starts with the O-line,” Walters said. “I think it’s a good O-line draft, and I think it’s an exceptionally deep receiver draft. There’s some real good high end guys, but there’s some quality depth throughout it as well.”
Walters indicated that they won’t be targeting a specific position with their first round picks, and will instead seek the best player available.
“We’ve got some flexibility with our roster in regards to where we play that seventh Canadian,” Walters said. “The likelihood of us just taking the best player is high, regardless of position.”
Canadians Demski, Wolitarsky, Andrew Harris, Patrick Neufeld, and Geoff Gray are all pegged to start for the Bombers next season. But with their losses on the offensive line, combined with the departure of Canadian all-star safety Taylor Loffler to free agency over the winter, the Bombers are still looking for more starting Canadians. Walters believes Derek Jones, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, could fill one of those voids at safety.
“The highest likelihood of where that seventh Canadian starter right now would be on the offensive line, or at receiver, or at defensive tackle,” he said. “So that’s why we’ll have competition in training camp, and be able to find out, kinda find out who the best roster sets up for us, as where that seventh Canadian starter will come from.”
Walters also indicated they’re still trying to sign receiver Lucky Whitehead who impressed at last week’s mini-camp.
The 2019 CFL Draft starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday.