'Extraordinary day for Bombers,'says former Ottawa GM Tillman Sat Apr 15 2006
By Ed Tait - Winnipeg Free Press
MAYBE you are one of the vocal minority who still feel the Winnipeg Blue Bombers dropped the ball in the talent-feeding frenzy that was the Ottawa Renegades dispersal draft.
Maybe you figure a ball-hawking defensive back like Korey Banks would have been a better fit for the Bombers. Or you curse the team's decision to pass on game-breaking receiver/returner Jason Armstead.
Well, we have it on good authority -- from the man who helped put the Renegades together and likely would have returned as GM had the franchise been saved, no less -- that the Bombers get an 'A+' for their draft-day work.
Winnipeg added two starting offensive linemen in Obby Khan and Val St. Germain, a QB prospect in Brad Banks, two Canadian defensive linemen in Hakeem Kashama and Cameron Legault, a versatile linebacker/defensive back in Robert Grant and two big running backs in Lenard Semajuste and Henri Childs.
"It was an extraordinary day for the Blue Bombers," said former Renegade GM Eric Tillman, now an analyst for Sportsnet. "Every team can feel like they improved coming out of the draft, but I'm not sure any team can feel as good as Winnipeg.
"In my mind they got two starting offensive lineman, a potential franchise quarterback, a blue-collar defensive lineman (Legault) who plays hard every snap and is a great guy in the locker-room, a young guy in Kashama that has an interesting upside, a quality big back that catches the ball well in Childs and Grant who -- if he hadn't gotten hurt last year -- would have gone much higher and is a good fit for (defensive co-ordinator) Greg (Marshall's) defence.
"Other than winning your lottery, how was your day?"
Tillman spoke to six CFL teams prior to the draft, including the Bombers, who wanted to pick his brain on the Renegades talent. He believes Winnipeg's moves in the first round -- to select Khan second overall and then trade their Canadian second-round draft pick for Val St. Germain -- was nothing short of brilliant.
"Obby Khan is a terrific young player and that was evidenced by the fact that half the teams in the league told me they would have taken him first overall," said Tillman. "Obby has as much potential as any young lineman in the league. Val is a veteran guy... not only did Winnipeg help themselves up front, they gave themselves ratio flexibility. It amazes me that even the people who follow the league don't understand that this is how you put a team together."
That said, Tillman is certain the steal of the draft was the Bombers grabbing Banks -- the former Iowa star and Heisman Trophy runner-up -- with the 13th pick overall.
"I have eminent respect for Kerry Joseph as a person, as a player and a leader. But I think Brad has a chance to be very special," said Tillman. "He's a different player than Kerry... Kerry is more of a physical runner where Brad is more of a Damon Allen-type runner. He makes people break their ankles in the open field with ease. He just has that special gift of elusiveness where he makes people tackle air. Brad is also a very accurate deep thrower.
"I told Brendan that if they were not going to take Obby Khan then they should look very seriously at taking Brad with the No. 2 pick overall. So for them to get him in the second round... they may have hit the jackpot. A lot of teams may look back on this day and ask, 'Why did we pass on Brad Banks?' "
For the Bombers fans or anyone else that thinks the Bombers failed in the dispersal draft. Made me feel a little better...