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Argonauts trade top pick in 2010 Draft to Roughriders

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The Canadian Press/With files from TSN
5/2/2010 10:25:37 AM
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Argonauts have dealt the first pick of the 2010 CFL Canadian draft to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who will use it to take linebacker Shomari Williams of the Queen's Gaels.

The Argos traded the first and eighth picks of Sunday's draft (TSN, noon ET) to Saskatchewan for punter Jamie Boreham and its second and fourth selections. That will allow the Riders to select Williams, who was ranked as the draft's top prospect by the CFL's amateur scouting bureau after helping Queen's win the Vanier Cup.

In fact, the six-foot-two, 236-pound Williams arrived in Regina on Saturday night to be on hand when the Riders announced his name as the first overall selection and has already signed a contract with the CFL club.

One of the sources said the deal will allow Toronto to take Washington State offensive lineman Joe Eppele second overall before selecting Concordia University linebacker Cory Greenwood at No. 3. The B.C. Lions had the third overall selection, but they reached a deal with the Argos to swap the No. 3 and No. 4 picks.

The Lions will send the No. 3, No. 18, No. 26, and No. 30 picks to the Argonauts for the No. 4, No. 20, No. 24, and No. 25 selections. The deal also stipulates that the Argos cannot choose receiver Shawn Gore of the Bishop's Gaiters, the player the Lions covet in the first round. 

Unfortunately for the Lions, Gore is now likely to sign with the Green Bay Packers, and the Argos are expected to use the No. 3 pick on Greenwood, who is second on the Lions' draft board.

News of the Toronto-Saskatchewan deal wasn't overly surprising as Argos head coach Jim Barker had said there was plenty of interest throughout the league for the No. 1 pick and that he was entertaining many offers.

"The chances (of trading the No. 1 pick), I think it's 50-50," Barker said. "When you have it, it's a commodity. And being smart and intelligent and (doing) the right things with it is important to this organization.

"This is an important draft for us. If the deal is right, we'll make it. We're not going to mortgage our future, but we're going to do what we can to help this club."

As well, Riders GM Brendan Taman had expressed an interest in securing the top pick and that he had spoken the seven remaining CFL teams about the No. 2 selection as well.

But the wheeling and dealing might not stop there.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats don't have a first-round pick and aren't scheduled to take their first player until the fifth selection of the second round at No. 12. But the Ticats are reportedly anxious about making a deal to move up in the draft.

That would put Hamilton in a better position to select Guelph Gryphons punter-kicker Rob Maver to complement the off-season acquisition of kicker Sandro DeAngelis as a free agent.

The Calgary Stampeders are scheduled to select at No. 5, ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Grey Cup-champion Montreal Alouettes conclude the first round at No. 7.

Neither Hamilton Tiger-Cats nor the Edmonton Eskimos have first-round selections. Edmonton is scheduled to make its first selection at No. 9

Williams and Greenwood offer great value because not only are they available, but have the best chances to come in and contribute immediately. Both can play special teams and provide quality depth while being groomed to become a starter.

But Williams offers a bit more versatility than Greenwood in that Williams can play play linebacker or come off the end as a rush end.

"Shomari has the ability, we think, to play defensive end as well," Taman said. "Cory, we think, is more of a true linebacker."

There's no shortage of quality offensive linemen -- always a priority in the CFL -- available this year. However, top prospects John Bender (Nevada) and Danny Watkins (Baylor) are returning to school, while Waterloo's Joel Reinders and Concordia's Kristian Matte have both signed NFL contracts.

The top available offensive lineman is Eppele, a six-foot-eight, 309-pound behemoth from Washington State who is the fifth-ranked draft prospect.

And there's plenty of depth in the receiving corps, too.

Gore is arguably the best prospect at this position. He had 37 catches for 610 yards and five touchdowns last year. And at six foot one and 200 pounds, he has good size.

Other worthwhile considerations would be Regina's Jordan Sisco (60 catches for 861 yards and five TDs last year) -- who attended Indianapolis's mini-camp -- and Concordia's Cory Watson (six foot two, 204 pounds, 52 catches, 821 yards and five TDs last year).

Bishop's receiver Steven Turner also offers the added bonus of being a speedy special-teams dynamo. Turner had 11 catches for 207 yards and one TD last season but was also Canadian university football's top punt returner, averaging a stellar 20.4 yards per return. He took two back for touchdowns.

He also posted a record time of 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the CFL evaluation camp before being invited to this weekend's Chicago Bears minicamp.

Still, the draft presents plenty of viable options for the eight CFL teams.

"No question, this is as good as draft as I've seen in the last five, six years," said Edmonton GM Danny Maciocia.

Shomari Williams (Photo: Jeff Chan, Queens Football)

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(Photo: Jeff Chan, Queens Football)
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