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Redblacks general manager expects to keep first pick in CFL draft

While Ottawa Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins has entertained some offers for his first overall pick in the CFL draft, he says there’s a “relatively good chance” he’ll make the pick Tuesday night.

“There has been some (interest) but not a whole lot,” Desjardins said.

Desjardins says he knows who he wants to take first overall but is keeping it to himself. One player the Redblacks won’t use the top pick on is McGill tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the top-ranked CIS prospect for the draft who was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday by the Kansas City Chiefs.

“As much as he would’ve been a guy that we probably would’ve selected, now that he has a commitment from an NFL team there’s no reason for us to go in that direction,” Desjardins said.

The popular sentiment is if Desjardins keeps the No. 1 pick, he’ll use it on Laval centre Pierre Lavertu.

The six-foot-three, 300-pound Lavertu finished third in the CFL scouting bureau’s season-ending top-15 rankings, and while he might not have the most upside and potential, Lavertu is generally regarded as one of the most pro-ready prospects in the draft.

Drafting Lavertu first overall would address a need for Ottawa after the off-season retirement of veteran Marwan Hage, whom the Redblacks selected in the CFL expansion draft in December from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“Offensive line is a need, no doubt,” Desjardins said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean 100 per cent that’s what we’ll do. There’s a good chance but everybody talks about a certain number of guys, whether it’s those two or three other top prospects. Just because they’re being written about and spoken about that doesn’t mean we have them graded the same way.”

For the first time ever, the CFL draft will be held at night, with the first round broadcast live on TSN. That could give teams more time to talk trade with Desjardins, although the Redblacks GM isn’t anticipating a lot of last-minute offers.

Toronto Argonauts GM Jim Barker said the extra time could prompt some action. “I’m sure from early in the morning there will be people calling and you’ll sit there and probably want to do something,” he said.

“It will make for a long day . . . but I think it’s kind of cool we’re doing it in the evening.”

All nine teams will make first-round selections Tuesday night. The Edmonton Eskimos will select third overall, followed by the Montreal Alouettes. B.C. is at No. 5, with Toronto, the Calgary Stampeders and Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders selecting before Hamilton completes the opening round.

If the Redblacks are coveting Lavertu, they might be well advised to take him with the early selection because the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who have the No. 2 selection, are said to be very interested in the Laval centre. So much so that if Ottawa does take Lavertu first overall, the Bombers would then reportedly be willing to deal the second pick to acquire some assets while moving down in the first round and selecting a player who could still help them.

A potential trade partner could be the B.C. Lions, who are said to like Simon Fraser centre Matthias Goossen, the CFL scouting bureau’s fifth-ranked prospect.

Barker says Lavertu and Goossen are definite players of interest.

“I think there’s a lot of teams in this league looking for a centre . . . and there’s a couple of them, he (Lavertu) and Goossen,” Barker said. “Those are guys who are being looked at by all the teams.”

 
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