Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mack's job at draft now more complex

NFL free-agent deals could mean taking risk

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THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers have the second overall pick in next Monday's CFL entry draft, but the events surrounding last weekend's NFL draft have made Winnipeg's decision-making this week much more complex.

Bombers GM Joe Mack said Monday his team is discussing the impact of three of the top five prospects in this year's CFL draft signing contracts with NFL teams.

"We were prepared for this. We definitely thought something like this could happen," said Mack, whose club will pick after Hamilton.

"This is just something we have to deal with in the CFL now in general... It's becoming a bigger and bigger issue every year for us.

"I think the NFL is doing a lot better job scouting the Canadian kids."

Defensive linemen Stefan Charles and Andy Mulumba and offensive lineman Matt Sewell signed free-agent NFL deals over the weekend after they went undrafted in the NFL draft.

Charles was the second-ranked player in the upcoming CFL draft, Sewell was fourth and Mulumba fifth.

With the top CFL prospect -- Oregon linebacker Bo Lokombo -- expected to attract lots of NFL interest in 2014 after he finishes his upcoming senior year, that leaves just third-ranked Linden Gaydosh among the top 5 CFL prospects available and without confirmed NFL interest heading into the CFL draft.

League sources said Monday that with few other blue-chip prospects up for grabs in this year's draft who would likely help a CFL team immediately, it's probable that Charles, Sewell and Mulumba will still go in the first round.

That calculation would involve CFL GMs crossing their fingers that all three men do not crack an NFL roster and end up returning to Canada sooner rather than later.

The consensus seems to be that Mulumba, who signed with Green Bay, is, in particular, a long shot to make the NFL. Charles, who signed with Tennessee, is considered the most physically gifted of the three -- he reportedly got a signing bonus from the Titans -- but the rap on him is that his play is wildly inconsistent. Sewell, who also signed with the Titans, is a monster of a man at 6-8, 340, but there are questions whether he's mentally ready for the NFL game.

Mack was asked if, with all the uncertainty now surrounding this year's draft, he might be more likely to trade the Bombers' first-round pick for a veteran CFL player he knows could help him this year.

"It would depend on who you might get. And it would also depend on other things. Say you made a trade and moved backwards in the draft with another pick that you got in return -- who might you pick up anyway?

"We're conscious of trying to help our team right now. And the players out there that fit that bill are pretty limited, I think."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2013 D3

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