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The Rouge: Should the CFL make changes to the Draft rules?

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
6/25/2012 4:10:27 PM
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Just in time for the historic 100th Grey Cup season and finally, the Rouge returns!

Before we dive into regular season storylines, let's first tackle an off-season issue, specifically the CFL Draft and rules defining which - or perhaps when - players can and cannot be selected.

The "futures pick" rule allows teams to select Canadians with remaining NCAA eligibility, players that will return to their school teams down south for the next season - and may never make their way north of the border.

CFL on TSN analyst Duane Forde wrote a piece on changes he'd like to see to the draft format ahead of the event, including the elimination of the "futures pick."

Forde argued if Canadians playing U.S. college ball aren't draft eligible until their NCAA eligibility expires, a number of risks - serious injury, rising NFL stock - would be eliminated for the drafting team.

It's true, drafting a player returning to school presents the danger of never seeing that player. And changing the draft rule would reduce the dangers for drafting teams; it would also eradicate a lot of draft day strategy.

It's always interesting to see which teams play it safe on draft day - selecting players certain to show up for training camp the month after - and which teams take risks - selecting players they won't see for a year, or maybe longer, but ones that could have bigger impacts down the road.

Take a look at the Calgary Stampeders as a team currently reaping the rewards of patience. DL Corey Mace (Wyoming), SB Jabari Arthur (Akron), and OL Jon Gott (Boise State) are three significant pieces of the Stamps' roster, all of whom the CFL had to wait on for at least a year.

But for every Mace, Arthur, or Gott, there's also a Danny Watkins, the BC Lions first-round draft pick (fourth overall) in 2010 who was later selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and is unlikely to ever suit up for the Lions.

An argument could also be made that the current rule benefits stronger teams that can afford to wait on better talents playing U.S. college ball, when weaker teams in need of more immediate help must take a player they know will join the team immediately. Of course if that better talent never makes his way north of the border, that case takes a hit.

And if you're in favour of changing the rules for U.S. college players, you're likely in favour of changing it for CIS players as well. In the past, teams rarely had to worry about their draft picks selecting another year of CIS over the CFL, but the problem is quickly becoming more prevalent – as Kirby Fabien and Frederic Plesius highlighted this year.

The CIS issue is different, however, in that it has to do more with the minimum two-year contracts draft picks have to sign.

Some prefer the rules to be changed in favour of a safer and more traditional draft format. But the “futures pick” leads to a lot of interesting tactics on draft day, as gambling GMs take shots on higher-quality players.

The Rouge is back and asks you this: What, if any, changes would you make to the CFL's Draft rules?

Danny Watkins (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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