Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue narrow their draft options

Club gets up close with potential first-round picks Lavertu, Goosen

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It's been the worst-kept secret in the CFL that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would like to land a starting centre with their second overall pick in next month's CFL Draft.

But while it wasn't exactly breaking news, it was still interesting on Tuesday when the Bombers publicly revealed they are flying a couple of top offensive line prospects to town this week as the club continues to decide what to do with that coveted second pick they have in this year's draft.

Bombers GM Kyle Walters told reporters during a briefing Tuesday afternoon at Investors Group Field the Bombers flew Laval offensive lineman Pierre Lavertu in for a personal workout Tuesday and are doing the same for Simon Fraser offensive lineman Mathias Goosen today.

Lavertu is ranked third in this year's draft class while Goosen is ranked ninth, according to the CFL scouting bureau.

More important than their rankings, however, is the fact both men have played centre, a position that is currently unoccupied on the Bombers roster after the club's veteran centre Justin Sorensen signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in the off-season.

"We're going to let (offensive line coach) Bob Wylie take a look at these guys, put them through a workout," said Walters.

"The offensive staff will get them up on the board, start talking about some of our systems and see how they react -- some implementation of systems and stuff like that. And just get to know them... We're just doing everything we can to make sure we make the right pick and have the right guy we want here in Winnipeg."

The Bombers have stressed over and over again this off-season whoever they draft second overall will be expected to start this season and Walters suggested it's not a coincidence both men the club is flying in for workouts are offensive linemen.

"Let's be open and honest -- we're looking at the offensive line and we're looking at centre. That's a priority for us," said Walters.

"In a perfect world, hopefully we'll like both these guys and if Ottawa takes one (with the first overall pick), we're perfectly fine with the other. If it doesn't go that way, now we'll maybe start looking at another position or we'll start talking trade a little more serious."

Walters said he's had some interest from other CFL teams in his second overall pick. "Half the teams have called but it's hard to guage the seriousness of it. One team put something together that was almost laughable, to be honest with you... Nothing beyond feelers, I'd say. And the one serious one wasn't even worth responding to, to be honest with you."

While the Bombers tipped their draft hand a bit with Tuesday's revelation that they are flying in Lavertu and Goosen for workouts, Walters said the two men weren't the only ones the club wanted to bring to Winnipeg for individual workouts.

Walters said the other prospects the Bombers wanted to take a closer look at either declined Winnipeg's offer through their agents or simply weren't available.

The top two ranked players in next month's draft -- McGill's Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Montreal's David Foucault, respectively -- are also offensive linemen, but both men are expected to attract NFL interest. In addition, Foucault hurt his foot during a workout for NFL scouts and is unable to work out presently, said Walters.

Walters said the two top University of Manitoba prospects in this year's draft -- sixth-ranked defensive lineman Evan Gill and eighth-ranked running back Anthony Coombs -- will almost certainly be drafted in the first round and unavailable to Winnipeg when they make their second pick next month, which doesn't come until the third round.

Walters said given the lack of depth in this year's draft, he doesn't think it's likely other teams would be willing to part with a second-rounder this year so the Bombers could trade up.

The Bombers gave up their second-round pick in this year's draft to the Saskatchewan Roughriders as part of the deal that brought offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld (and a fourth-round pick in 2015) to Winnipeg last fall. The Bombers also sent defensive end Alex Hall to the Roughriders in that deal.

Hall finished the season in Regina, but has since signed in the NFL.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2014 C5

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