Grading the Edmonton Eskimos 2016 draft starts with the understanding of a rookie’s journey. The metamorphism from raw rookie to seasoned veteran, often takes years at the pro level and goes through the school of hard knocks. While college can enlighten the young football mind the reality is it just the base camp of a long ascent up the mountain of learning. The CFL rookie, gets a different education from college, the kind that comes with both pain to the ego and physical pain related to failure.
Development Is Necessary of CFL Rookies
In 2015 CFL Draft the Edmonton Eskimos selected 6’6”, 335 pound highly touted Laval offensive tackle/guard Danny Groulx seventh overall. The scouting report on Groulx was that he was a big physical mauler with a mean streak. With Simeon Rottier still recovering and Matt O’Donnell still not back from the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, Groulx was pressed into duty in the Northern Kick-off. Argos defensive tackle Cleyon Laing routinely beat the rookie in his first regular season pro game and eventually executed a low hit on Mike Reilly’s knee keeping the starting quarterback to only nine starts in 2015.
Mike Reilly’s knee injury was not Groulx’s fault, but the Eskimos still made personnel moves to allow Groulx to learn and grow without forcing him into the line-up. The fact of the matter is that most rookies are overwhelmed going from college to the pro game. New schemes, new playbook, new terms, new techniques and then there is the elevated level of competition. In the pros players are faster, stronger and more creative in their methods to beat the opposition. Giving rookies time to adjust, to learn and to assimilate into pro football life or in other words develop into what the team envisioned when they drafted the player is a must.
Danny Groulx will be better this season playing in spot duty most likely behind Matt O’Donnell at right guard. In another year or two, as veterans move on, Groulx with be ready to start at right guard or right tackle. The same type of development will occur for the 2016 selections, developing the next wave.
Edmonton Eskimos 2016 Draft Class
While there will be plenty of hype around this year’s class of selections the reality is that it will be a few years before we know if the Eskimos have had a successful draft or have more misses than hits. Let’s look at the 2016 selections and what they will bring to the Eskimos in the coming years:
Overall Pick #8 Name: Tevaun Smith
Height: 6-0 Weight: 205
Position: WR Pos2: SB
The Toronto native had a solid pro day looking smooth, fast and possessing a great set of hands. Smith was ranked 2nd in the CFL scouting bureau rankings, but it was his 4.41 and 4.38 speed in the 40 at his pro day that garnered a futures contract from the Indianapolis Colts. However, this pick has the feel of offensive guard Austin Pasztor who was ranked fourth and selected fourth by the Eskimos in 2012. Pasztor had a very slim chance at the time of being in the CFL and now has become a proven NFL’er. Smith has the same very low chance of being in the CFL outlook and this pick was most likely wasted.
CFL Prospect Grade: A
CFL Pick Grade: F
Overall Pick #17 Name: Arjen Colquhoun
College: Michigan State
Height: 6-1 Weight: 202
Position: CB Pos2: SLB
The Windsor, Ontario product Colquhoun has 4.5 / 40 speed and size to be a quality player at the pro level. Colquhoun was also ranked highly, 4th overall, by the CFL scouting bureau and has signed an NFL futures contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Colquhoun battled injuries for most of his college career that had him flying under the NFL radar. However, he is a quality player who had forty-five tackles, twelve passes defended, ten pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles within fourteen games in 2015 with the Spartans. Dallas has some depth at cornerback and free safety, which means Colquhoun will have a harder time to stick with the Cowboys. However, he has enough skill and size to be on an NFL roster somewhere even if it is a practice roster for the first year.
CFL Prospect Grade: A –
CFL Pick Grade: D +
Pick #44 Name: Josh Woodman
Height: 6-0 Weight: 177
Position: CB Pos2: S
The Chatham, Ontario product had five interceptions, five pass breakups, two tackles for a loss and eighteen tackles in eight regular season games in 2014 earning All-Canadian honors. He followed up with a solid four interceptions, three pass breakups and thirty-one tackle season making him a consistent defender with plenty of potential. The Eskimos have 2014 CFL Supplemental Draftee Mike Dubuisson and 30th overall selection Raye Hartmann who can play both corner and safety. Woodman will need time to bulk up for the pro game, but Woodman could help elevate one of the other two into a back-up sam linebacker role.
CFL Prospect Grade: C
CFL Pick Grade: C
Pick #53 Name: Doug Corby
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190
Position: WR Pos2: SB
Doug Corby out of Queen’s was ranked 20th overall by the CFL scouting bureau after he ran a 4.50 at the combine and received an invitation to attend mini-camp with the New York Giants. Don’t be overly impressed as a ton of CFL prospects received a tryout with the Giants and it doesn’t mean he is going to get an invitation to main camp. The Queen’s receiver has an outstanding work ethic and competitiveness to his game that led to 131 yards receiving and three touchdowns in that East-West Bowl. Corby has the body type, speed and mindset to play slotback and be successful in the CFL.
CFL Prospect Grade: B
CFL Pick Grade: B
Late Round Selections
The late rounds are often even more of a gamble, but with some luck and due diligence good special teams players can be found. Depending on nicks and bruises that normally come with training camp one or both of these players could make the 46 man roster or at least hang around on the practice roster.
Pick #61 Name: Doug Parrish
College: Western Oregon University
Height: 6-0 Weight: 223
Position: WLB Pos2: MLB
Doug Parrish from Western Oregon is the son of former Eskimo Doug Parrish Sr. a defensive back with the 1993 Grey Cup Champions . Parrish, a hard hitter, was considered one of the top newcomers for WOU after transferring in from San Jose State. He will need to win a job on special teams to make the Eskimos in 2016.
CFL Prospect Grade: C-
CFL Pick Grade: D
Pick #70 Name: D.J. Lalama
Height: 6-1 Weight: 230
Position: MLB Pos2: WLB
D.J. Lalama received an invitation to attend mini-camp with the New York Giants, but so did many others from the CFL combine. What was more impressive was his 7 game 2015 campaign that had Lalama contribute fifty-three tackles with six and a half tackles for a loss making him one of the most prolific tacklers in the CIS West. He will also needs to win a job on special teams to make the Eskimos in 2016.
CFL Prospect Grade: C-
CFL Pick Grade: D
It is obvious that the Eskimos rely more on free agency and prematurely released nationals to improve their Canadian talent, but the Eskimos need to have more drafts like 2015 than the one they just had in 2016. While Eskimo fans can understand the concept of picking the best player over strategic drafting the 2016 draft for the Eskimos overall draft grade is a D and largely a disappointment even if they picked last in each round. In this years draft the Esks made lots of high risk and high reward picks that have a low probability of panning out and yet just one of Smith and Colquhoun make their way to Eskimos and the grade improves greatly. However, as it stands currently Corby has to contribute in the next three years and two of Lalama, Parrish and Woodman need to be solid special teams and back-up players for the Eskimos to keep the current grade.
Each rookie’s journey begins on May 25th across the CFL as they report for medicals and practice three days before main camp on the weekend shortly after.