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Dunigan: Young QBs get opportunity to showcase talent

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Matt Dunigan
7/29/2013 4:36:05 PM
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What a week for the Canadian Football League, our fans and the Ottawa REDBLACKS!

Four young quarterbacks this week have or will be strutting their stuff and showcasing their skill set for all to see, especially Marcel Desjardins, GM for the expansion team in the nation's capital.

Marcel must be grinning from ear to ear with the sudden surge of talented young QBs taking control and getting real meaningful snaps right before his eyes. The GM is getting invaluable insight to the strengths and weaknesses of the potential future leader for his team.

In December the CFL is holding the Ottawa REDBLACKS Expansion Draft; the team will be able to select a total of eight imports and 16 non-imports and have the opportunity to draft two quarterbacks from existing teams. (The complete Expansion Draft format can be seen at the end of this article.)

Who the REDBLACKS choose is anyone's guess, but one thing is for sure, it's the hottest topic going in the CFL.

Bo Levi Mitchell, Drew Willy, and Justin Goltz all took centre stage and acquitted themselves quite well with their play this past weekend. If that's not enough, roll out Zach Collaros, the Argos' "diamond in the rough" for all to see Tuesday night. Whaaa-Hoooo! All of a sudden, it's a smorgasbord of future CFL quarterbacks and the REDBLACKS are licking their lips.

While Desjardins has got to be ecstatic with his sudden good fortune and all the live auditions taking place as of late, the direction each club will take with who they protect could very well have been muddied!

In Bo Levi Mitchell's case, it's not just his incredible play the other night, when he looked razor sharp and certainly ready to take centre stage, it's how he has handled everything that has been thrown at him since becoming a Stampeder. Remember, he's the reason why Brad Sinopoli, once a promising Canadian quarterback with all the right tools, is now playing receiver!

I mention Mitchell's fine play because he might be the quarterback that Calgary protects come the expansion draft. Why? Because like it or not Drew Tate has been injured way too often lately, and he's older and presumably more expensive. Put it this way, Mitchell has gone a long way in ensuring future employment in a Red and Black uniform somewhere, we just don't know if that's in Calgary or Ottawa!

Interesting scenarios abound, and that's just Calgary!

In Saskatchewan, you protect Durant and pray he gets healthy fast for a couple of reasons. Durant is your franchise quarterback and he's having a Most Outstanding Player type season. He gives you the best chance to win, week in week out. But also so you don't have to keep exposing the young, talented Drew Willy to the watchful eyes of Ottawa. If Willy keeps balling like he did the other night, he's a potential REDBLACK for sure!

As for Goltz in Winnipeg, he did enough to warrant a call back audition, maybe not from Ottawa but certainly in Winnipeg where they continue to search for production and continuity under the centre.

It's a "Catch 22" situation for all the teams across the CFL. You want to develop your next quarterback, but if you do it this season, you expose him to the process and bang, he could be gone! That's why you have teams keeping four and five quarterbacks around camp this season expecting and anticipating the pillaging in December.

Are teams possibly going to the extent of hiding quarterbacks as best they can, trying to throw Ottawa off the scent of a good QB? Not a bad idea, but certainly a risky one!

For example, is Hamilton's Jeremiah Masoli, who's listed as the No. 3 QB actually better than Brian Brohm, who has been placed on the nine-game injured list? Or are the Ticats trying to fly Brohm under the radar a bit? Let's see if Brohm is activated after nine weeks and if Masoli goes to the nine-game list.

All kinds of gamesmanship could be going on in Toronto with the club keeping five quarterbacks in camp! Makes you wonder to what extent clubs are willing to go in order to protect or hide their talent at the most important position in the game.

And what about this conspiracy theory: Montreal sends Adrian McPherson to the Arena League to get some playing time in, because we know he wasn't going to get any in Montreal. Then after the Expansion Draft, when he's not eligible to be picked, Montreal brings him back as their guy? After all, they did groom him for five years behind AC! Just saying ... makes you go hmmmmm!

(McPherson underwent hernia surgery 10 days ago and will be out of commission for approximately two months. Prior to having surgery, he was lighting it up :238-385 with 3151 yards, 59 touchdowns and five interceptions, plus his rushing stats were 90 carries for 428 yards and 31 TDs)

You get the picture. The Expansion Draft is and will continue to be a hot and contentious topic now, before and even after the draft is completed!

Here's a look at the quarterback stables as they stand now for each club.

BC: Travis Lulay, Thomas DeMarco, Joey Elliott, Chris Hart
EDM: Mike Reilly, Jon Crompton, Kerry Joseph, Matt Nichols, Jacory Harris
CGY: Drew Tate, Kevin Glenn, Bo Levi Mitchell, Ryan Perrilloux
SSK: Darian Durant, Drew Willy, Tino Sunseri
TOR: Ricky Ray, Zach Collaros, Trevor Harris, Josh Portis, Mitchell Gale
HAM: Henry Burris, Dan LeFevour, Jeremiah Masoli, Brian Brohm
MTL: Anthony Calvillo, Josh Neiswander, Tanner Marsh
WPG: Buck Pierce, Justin Goltz, Max Hall

Sidebar: Look at the three teams that are only carrying three quarterbacks: Winnipeg, Montreal and Saskatchewan. Seems like Winnipeg would be trying to develop a fourth at the very least!

Montreal and Saskatchewan you would have to think are maybe losing a quarterback this season with Calvillo potentially retiring and Willy getting scooped up in the Expansion Draft. So why not be developing that fourth guy now?

More "Water Cooler" Stuff

Other potential candidates for the REDBLACKS I would consider bringing into camp are the "Pasture Guys."  The QBs that have been put out in the pasture that have CFL experience, been kicked around a bit, but still have some tread left on their tires.

Adrian McPherson
Quinton Porter
Alex Brink
Steven Jyles

I'm sure there are a few more that could be added to that list, feel free to do so!

The thing with the "Pasture Guys" is they are available and would be, in most cases, extremely valuable commodities for training camp. You never know, one of these guys I mentioned could be that guy where things come together and crystallize at the right time. Or they could/would be solid at least as an experienced No. 3, an insurance policy so to speak.

They could teach others the subtle nuances of the game: how to prepare, how to handle adversity, watch video, help show the rookies the ropes on how to travel, be a pro and basically be coaches on the field for a quicker development of the team in general. I'd do it and be better off for it!

I know one thing for sure, after Tuesday night, Desjardins and company will be all the wiser after the showcasing of four young quarterbacks in a crazy Week Five.

The Expansion Draft

The Expansion Draft will consist of three rounds: one for imports, and two for non-imports.

Ottawa will be able to select a total of eight imports and 16 non-imports, including two quarterbacks, from existing teams.

In addition, Ottawa will pick first in all six rounds of the 2014 CFL Canadian Draft, after picking four underclassmen from the NCAA in the 2013 CFL Canadian Draft.

With those four picks Ottawa selected Toronto's Nolan MacMillan, an offensive lineman from the University of Iowa, with their first round pick; Ottawa's own Connor Williams, a defensive lineman with Utah State, with their second round pick; Brampton, Ontario's Kalonji Kashama, a defensive end from Eastern Michigan in the third round; and New Westminister, BC's Tyler Digby, who played tight end at Robert Morris in the fourth round.

Here are some additional details on the expansion draft:

The Expansion Draft is divided into two main categories from which players may be selected, Non-Imports and Imports (quarterbacks, kickers, and punters are eligible for selection within the applicable Non-Import or Import category).

Ottawa will have the ability to select not more than two quarterbacks and not more than one kicker or punter (for clarity, Ottawa may not select a kicker and a punter). A Member Club cannot have both a quarterback and a kicker or punter selected from its roster. A Member Club cannot have more than one quarterback selected from its roster.

ROUND ONE:  IMPORT DRAFT

Member Clubs may protect one quarterback, and ten additional Import players.

Ottawa will select one Import player from each Member Club.

Import quarterbacks, kickers, and punters are eligible for selection (and protection), provided that:

 Each Member Club may protect a maximum of one quarterback in the Import Draft.

All other quarterbacks on a Member Club's roster at the time of the draft are eligible for selection in this section.

Ottawa will only be able to select two quarterbacks in the Expansion Draft.

If a quarterback is selected from a Member Club in the Import Draft, such Member Club will be able to protect the names of an additional two Non-Import players in the first round of the Non-Import Draft.

If a kicker or punter is selected from a Member Club in the Import Draft, such Member Club will be able to protect one additional Non-Import player in the first round of the Non-Import Draft.

ROUND TWO: NON-IMPORT DRAFT

Each Member Club will protect six Non-Import players.

Non-Import quarterbacks, kickers, and punters are eligible for selection (and protection), provided that:

If a Member Club had a quarterback selected from its roster in the Import draft, it will be permitted to protect eight Non-Import players in the first round of the Non-Import Draft (instead of six); and

Ottawa will be prevented from also selecting a kicker or punter from that Member Club.

If a Member Club had a kicker or punter selected from its roster in the Import Draft:

That Member Club will be permitted to protect seven Non-Import players in the Non-Import Draft (instead of six)

Ottawa will be prevented from also selecting a quarterback from that Member Club.

Any kicker or punter selected in the Non-Import Draft must be selected in the first round. If a Member Club had a kicker or punter selected from its roster in the Non-Import Draft, such Member Club would be eligible to protect eight Non-Import players in the second round of the Non-Import Draft, instead of six.

Ottawa will then select one non-import player from each Member Club.

ROUND THREE: NON-IMPORT DRAFT

Member Clubs will then submit a second list of an additional six Non-Import players for protection

If a Member Club lost a Non-Import kicker or punter in the first round of the Non-Import Draft, such Member Club would submit two additional Non-Import player names for protection.

Ottawa will then select one non-import player from each Member Club.

The Commissioner will resolve any dispute related to player eligibility for the Expansion Draft process.

CFL CANADIAN DRAFT (Non-Imports)

Ottawa will select in rounds one, two, three and four of the CFL Canadian Draft in the calendar year preceding the year it begins play, 2013. It will select at the ninth position in each of the first four rounds and may only select Redshirt Juniors from the NCAA. Ottawa will be able to select a maximum of four underclassmen (NCAA) in that CFL Canadian Draft.

Ottawa will have the first pick in every round of the CFL Canadian Draft in the calendar year in which it begins play, (2014) That provides Ottawa with the: 
1st overall selection, 10th overall selection, 19th overall selection, 28th overall selection, 37th overall selection, 45th overall selection, plus two additional picks at 55 and 56.

In addition to the Expansion Draft and selections in the CFL Canadian Drafts, the conditional Ottawa franchise may operate a Negotiation List in advance of its return to the league. Ottawa's interim Negotiation List can include a maximum of 25 players, including a maximum of 10 quarterbacks.

Drew Willy (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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