Sunday's news from Drew Edwards that first-overall CFL draft pick Linden Gaydosh has signed with the Carolina Panthers following an impressive performance at a tryout camp probably has some Hamilton Tiger-Cats' fans worrying if their team's selection of Gaydosh will turn out to be a blown pick. After all, NFL interest is a key factor in determining players' CFL draft stock, and the rising NFL interest in CIS players has made that even more difficult. Players like Matt Sewell and Ben D'Aguilar went lower than expected in the CFL draft likely at least partly thanks to their NFL opportunities. One of the reasons Gaydosh was both widely predicted to go first, then taken in that slot, was because it didn't look like there was much NFL interest in him at that time. Now that he's landed a NFL contract, that pick doesn't look quite as foolproof. However, Hamilton fans should pick up their copies of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and take heart from the message inscribed on the cover in large, friendly letters: Don't Panic.
Yes, the level of NFL interest in Gaydosh has shot up rather dramatically. However, there are plenty of reasons to think he's not going to stick with the Panthers. For one thing, the team just spent their first two NFL draft picks on defensive tackles Star Lotulelei (14th overall) and Kawann Short (44th overall), and coach Ron Rivera is obviously very high on those guys; they should be long-term starters for the Panthers. The team also has three other DTs likely to be on the depth chart this fall in Colin Cole, Dwan Edwards and Nate Chandler. Gaydosh impressed in CIS with the Calgary Dinos, but despite the growing recognition of Canadian university football down south, he's still coming into Carolina as a huge underdog when compared to their other players at his position, and he'll also have to adapt to the four-down, small-field, run-focused nature of the NFL game after playing Canadian football for most of his life.
Moreover, there's the numbers game to keep in mind. NFL teams can now have 90 players in training camp, but they have to cut down to a 53-man active roster and an eight-man practice roster by the time the season starts. That means almost one in three players in camp will be cut, and the odds would seem likely that Gaydosh will be one of those players. When you consider he was one of the last players they picked up this offseason, that further increases his odds of survival. You don't need an Infinite Improbability Drive to create a scenario where he doesn't make it out of camp.
That isn't a certainty, of course. There are plenty of undrafted free agents who have gone on to substantial NFL tenures, including CIS products like Israel Idonije, Jon Ryan and Cory Greenwood. Maybe Gaydosh impresses the Panthers enough to stick around on their practice squad and develop, or perhaps he even finds a way to make the 53-man roster this fall despite the logjam of more-experienced and more-touted players in front of him. Maybe he sticks in the NFL for several years with Carolina or another team, or even goes on to a decade-long NFL career, in which case this really would be a wasted pick for Hamilton. The most likely scenario would seem to be that he'll be cut in training camp this year, though.
If Gaydosh is axed in camp, that could lead to him joining another NFL team, or it could lead to him heading north of the border to join the Tiger-Cats. The latter may be more likely, but even the former could see him in the CFL within a year or two,. Having their top pick sign in the NFL certainly isn't an ideal situation for the Ticats, but it's a long way from having their planet blown up. All NFL interest is equal, but some NFL interest is more equal than others, and the NFL interest in Gaydosh seems more out of curiosity than out of a long-term planning standpoint. While not having Gaydosh available at the start of CFL training camp this year is less optimal than imagined, it doesn't necessarily make him a bad pick first overall. If he sticks in the NFL, that's problematic for Hamilton, but the odds and the specific situation Gaydosh is in suggest he may well soon be waving goodbye to the Panthers and thanking them for all the fish.