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Author Topic: GM Kyle Walters Breaks Down the 2020 Draft Picks  (Read 514 times)
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Blue Bombers and Fans

« on: May 01, 2020, 10:59:02 PM »

GM Kyle Walters breaks down the 2020 Draft Picks

The returns aren't immediate or instantly noticeable. But based on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers success in recent drafts, they will eventually come.

The Bombers were the last team to call out a name in Thursday's Canadian Football League Draft, but once they got involved in the process they were thrilled - granted, as is every other team the day after the proceedings - with their 2020 haul of new homegrown talent.

The seven players selected helped the Grey Cup champions address depth needs, particularly on defence, and delivered what management hopes are some future starters.

In order, the club selected defensive back Noah Hallett (18th overall), receiver Brendan O'Leary-Orange (37th), kicker Marc Liegghio (39th), defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly (46th), linebacker Kyle Rodger (55th), linebacker Tanner Cadwallader (64th) and defensive back Bleska Kambamba (73rd).

On Friday, the Bombers added to their 2020 draft class by selecting University of Manitoba receiver Macho Bockru and Wilfrid Laurier defensive tackle Zach Houghron in a non-counter draft based on waiver priority.

"Going in we said we really wanted to address the depth on the defensive side of the ball, that's certainly adding some depth in the secondary, replenishing some of the special teams/linebacker body types and adding some guys on the defensive line," said Bombers GM Kyle Walters in a media conference call on Friday. "We did that. We got what we needed in Noah Hallett in a potential starting free safety that can learn and grow back there and compete and play special teams.

"And we ended with Kambamba. He's just a good football player, man. You put his film on and he's playing corner, which is sometimes hard to translate up here (in the CFL), but he runs and he strikes and he's an All-Canadian at Western, which is a really good school.

"You look at Dheilly, Rodger and Cadwallader... that?s the exact type of guys we're looking for at those roles. They play hard. When we start talking special teams, you can tell quickly when you're watching film the kids that love playing and don't love playing because there's a lot of joggers out there and a lot of guys that are 'vicinity tacklers' as we call them, that seem to be around special teams stuff but aren't really involved. The three that we drafted for the special teams roles aren't scared to run around and smack people which is right up our alley.

"The O'Leary-Orange and Liegghio picks," Walters added "they're just too good of football players. They graded out high and we couldn't just pass them up and just went with good football players."


The Bombers' second selection, receiver Brendan O'Leary-Orange, didn't necessarily address a positional need or provide depth on defence. This was the classic 'best player available' approach at the 37th pick and the big Nevada product is an intriguing addition to bolster a Canadian receiving corps that features starters Nic Demski and Drew Wolitarsky, along with veterans Daniel Petermann and Julian Feoli-Gudino.

"He?s had a bit of an injury history, but when you put his tape on, his total body of work is unbelievable," said Walters of O'Leary-Orange. "He?s big, he's fast, he makes a lot of plays against good competition. He just needs to get healthy. There's just too much of an upside sitting at 37 to not take a chance on him even though it wasn't really a position of need or thought going in.

"That was a decision we thought last night we could add depth on the defensive side of the ball later in the draft with a bunch of guys we really liked to fill that role. We didn't feel we needed to reach at (number) 37 or 39 for some defensive depth we thought we could get later. We went with the best football player and said O'Leary-Orange's upside is pretty darn high if we get him healthy."


Justin Medlock shows no signs whatsoever of a decline, but the Bombers added an impressive kicking prospect with their third pick in the draft in Marc Liegghio of Western.

"He's one of the best kickers we've seen from the draft in a while," said Walters. "He's good. I mean, he's good enough to be kicking in the CFL. Obviously we're happy with Justin, but this young man can come in and learn from Justin. It's always good to have depth and contingency plans across the board."

Walters spoke to the media for almost 20 minutes on Friday and here are the other main takeaways from the session:


In case you missed our draft recap from Thursday, the Bombers' first pick was Hallett, who joins his older brother Nick, selected by the team last year.

Winnipeg opened last year with Canadian Jeff Hecht at safety, but moved import Brandon Alexander there for the final four regular season games and the playoffs. Alexander may remain there, but Hallett bolsters the Canadian defensive back depth to perhaps consider making that spot a national one again.

"It could be a Hallett brother competition at training camp," said Walters with a chuckle. "It's twofold: you want to give your team options ratio-wise that if you suffer some injuries where would your eighth Canadian be, whether it's a third receiver, whether it's a fourth O-lineman, or whether it's a free safety. These were all things we wanted to talk about. The way it went last year with all Americans in the secondary we didn't dress a designated import back there, so your Canadian on the roster has to be a get-you-out-of-the-game safety for lack of a better term. We just wanted some competition at that role. We spent a lot of time watching and evaluating special teams film and we wanted this player to not only be a potential free safety down the road, but he's got to be able to step in and help on special teams and we believe Noah can do that."


The Bombers found some gold at the bottom of their 2019 draft class by selecting Nick Hallett and Kerfalla Exume in the seventh and eight rounds. Losing defensive end Jonathan Kongbo to the NFL, seeing safety Derek Jones move to B.C. and then moving on from Hecht, Dexter Janke and Dondre Wright - all of whom started or suited up for games last year - left some holes to fill on defence.

The draft brain trust addressed those needs with their next three draft choices - Dheilly, Rodger and Cadwallader - and a very keen eye locked in on their special-teams contributions in college.

On Dheilly:

"He's a long, athletic defensive lineman who started out at Regina and won CanWest Rookie of the Year," said Walters. "He broke the season sack record and got bigger and stronger and finished off at Saskatchewan. He's a 100-miles-an-hour guy all the time. He runs around and he smashes things. He comes off the edge with some twitchy-ness and some quickness. His special-teams film from Regina was pretty solid, so we think he can help out there."

On Rodger:

"We spent a lot, a lot, a lot of time watching special-teams film of guys this year, thinking that in the latter rounds these would be the group of guys we really wanted. It was more an evaluation on special-teams film, more so than their defensive film.

"Kyle Rodger was a very good football player at Ottawa U. What really sold us on him was his best special-teams film that we watched in regards to making plays, in regards to effort, in regards to hustle... he long snaps. He's a Winnipeg Blue Bombers kinda guy. Jack of all trades. A little under-sized at 5-11, 210, but he's just one of those guys who figures out a way to get it done and goes 100 miles an hour all the time.

On Cadwallader:

"He was really good on special teams and showed a real toughness, physicalness on film. A thumper. A real hard-nosed, tough kid. He was at the regional combine and we didn't know too much about him, but his testing numbers were really good. He's 200 pounds, running a 4.6, very strong... and you combine his physical attributes from a testing standpoint with what we watched on film... as I said, this kid's a thumper. He's a striker, he's a hitter. Positionally, we're not sure where he fits in, but we're quite sure he can run around on special teams and can help us out, which is important to us."


DB Bleska Kambamba:

"At that point he was just too good a football player at our gradings to not bring to camp. And, again, it was addressing our depth on the defensive side of the ball."

Receiver Macho Bockru:

"We loved his film, the coaches loved him. It wasn't a real priority once we drafted O'Leary-Orange, but after the draft we thought he was a really good football player to add."

DT Zach Houghron:

"That was a need. He played defensive end at Laurier this past season at 250 pounds. He showed up at the regional and had put the weight back on to play defensive tackle at abut 275 and still showed some interesting athleticism and twitchy-ness at that weight. We went back and watched the East-West Bowl from last year where he lined up as the inside guy and he was really good. I think what hurt him was playing his draft year, in my opinion, out of position as an end at 250 pounds. Accept you're an inside guy and play at 275 is something I think he's wrapped his head around. He's an interesting one that will really provide some needed depth on the inside of the line."

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." - John Wooden
Norm W
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Posts: 759

« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2020, 11:11:27 PM »

Always interesting to hear the thought process behind the decisions.

No such thing as too much jet fuel in the tanks, unless your'e on fire Smiley
Blue In BC
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Posts: 24733

« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2020, 01:42:18 PM »

Some of these players sound intriguing. That said there were are not many players on the roster that are at much risk of losing their jobs in TC IMO. If some of the rookies beat out a current vet then we've added some new younger talent.

Barring injuries I'd expect a few players to be put on PR or a couple might make 1 game IR to protect them.

No more excuses.
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Posts: 1505

« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2020, 02:16:03 PM »

After watching the draft and seeing the final draft list for all teams, I am of the opinion that Regina and us did not do well unless Regina gets the DT out of Oklahoma that is headed to Dallas.  No hope there and a wasted pick as far as I am concerned.

Thought TO and Calgary did well.  Really does not matter as I do not think that there will be a season. Sad
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Posts: 1516

« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2020, 04:19:10 PM »

A couple guys showing some 'twitchy-ness' intrigues the heck out of me...I just hope they can twitch their way into a starter eventually ...I hope Kyle and Mike O have gauged their talent well AND they usually do..We have come up with some gems in the past few drafts that far out number the 'duds'...Too bad we can't see some of them in action at tc shortly....I have to keep telling myself....patience...patience
Blue In BC
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2020, 04:59:11 PM »

Don't take this a knock about any of the draft picks. I think we drafted well as a continuing trend.

Based on our 2019 roster we don't have many holes to fill. Obviously we needed to add depth at DB and DL as a result of specific departures. To that end I expect Hallett ( a very good pick ) to make the roster. Dheilly will be challenging Griffith for a 2nd roster spot behind Thomas.

Beyond that, barring injury, surprise retirements, trades or additions I'll be surprised if anybody else makes game roster day 1.

Our Canadian OL, RB's LB's and receivers are solid and I don't expect many if any changes.

Changes that occur are more likely to be players that were mostly PR players in 2019.

Previously I've mentioned that Rush might see some serious competition. A hard choice might need to be made about Rempel due to age, salary and newcomers challenging.

I'm not sure where JFG fits in at receiver if there isn't an injury.

None that I mentioned are bad players but that's where I see some chance of departures. All of it falls into the need versus salary, age and new depth choices measured against SMS.

All bets are off if the 2020 season is toast. Then it becomes an issue of potential free agents going into 2021 and there could be many. A quick count shows 17 Canadians in option year.

While we've done well in re-signing them each year, nothing is any more certain that whether there is a 2020 season.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 05:03:07 PM by Blue In BC » Logged

No more excuses.
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