Keith Shologan (bundled up at the 2010 Grey Cup) was picked by Ottawa Monday.While the Ottawa Redblacks' first round of expansion draft selections Monday (live chat here) was relatively conservative, general manager Marcel Desjardins made a bigger splash in the second round, picking several prominent Canadians from across the league. Three of the most notable picks are guys who have largely made their mark in the trenches; Saskatchewan defensive tackle Keith Shologan, Toronto offensive guard Joe Eppele and Calgary offensive guard J'Michael Deane. The fourth particularly interesting pick is Montreal fullback/tight end Patrick Lavoie, a talented blocker and pass catcher. All of those guys (and Ottawa's other four second-round selections) could potentially be key players for them going forward.
Shologan in particular is an enticing pick, as he's a Canadian who's played very well at a position that often goes to imports. After a solid NCAA career at the University of Central Florida, he's been with the Roughriders since they drafted him fourth overall in 2008, and he's been a crucial player on their defensive line. He was picked as the Most Valuable Canadian in a losing cause in the 2010 Grey Cup, and he started at tackle for them in this year's Grey Cup, playing a key role on a defensive front that frequently had Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris under pressure and was able to almost completely eliminate the Tiger-Cats' ground game. He's only 28, and he's coming off a season that saw him record a career-high four sacks, plus he's under contract for at least another year. It may be difficult to draw Shologan, an Alberta native who's played in Saskatchewan for his whole CFL career, to Ottawa, but the Redblacks have plenty of money (thanks to entering this year without any bad contracts), and if he refuses to play for them, they should be able to get substantial considerations in a trade. If he does play for them, though, he could be one of their first Canadian stars.
Deane and Eppele could also be key contributors. They're 27 and 26 respectively, and although both were backups at the end of 2012, they've each started for their teams at times. Deane has mostly played guard lately, but he has tackle size (he's listed at 6'5'', 312 pounds) and he's played on both the offensive and defensive lines (the former more recently). Calgary selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft (21st overall) while he was playing at Michigan State. The 6'8'', 309-pound Eppele also can potentially play tackle, and he's even drawn interest from the NFL in the past. He was the second-overall pick in 2010 out of Washington State. Both are under contract for at least another year.
Lavoie has the potential to be maybe the biggest star out of any of these guys. After Montreal chose him in the second round of the 2012 draft (11th overall) out of Laval, he had a tremendous debut season as a fullback/tight end, proving so useful as a receiver that the Alouettes used many more tight end sets than we're accustomed to seeing in the CFL. He caught 33 balls for 307 yards and four touchdowns that season. Injuries and offensive changes kept him from being a big factor in 2013, where he only made six catches for 46 yards (and eight special teams tackles), but he has the ability to be a great receiver out of the backfield or from the line of scrimmage, and he's a solid blocker as well. It's a bit of a surprise that he was left unprotected, as he's a recent high pick who's still under contract, and many projections had him on the Als' list. He might well be an excellent fit in Ottawa.
Further picks John Delahunt (FB, Hamilton), James Green (LB/ST, Winnipeg), Alex Krausnick (OL, Edmonton) and Matthew Albright (OL, B.C.) might well contribute to the Redblacks, too. There is one key deficiency in their picks thus far, though; receivers. It's awfully hard to meet the import ratio's requirements for seven Canadian starters without one or two non-import receivers, and the Redblacks haven't taken any thus far. We'll see if they go in that direction in the third round.