Breaking down the 2014 CFL Draft’s first round, part one

55 Yard Line

Tuesday's CFL draft was one of the wildest ever, and much of that insanity played out in the first round. The Ottawa Redblacks kicked off things by trading the first-overall pick to Calgary for offensive lineman Jon Gott, and things proceeded in zany fashion from there, with four other trades happening in the first round and one sending a pick back to the team that had it originally. Here's a breakdown of everything that happened in the first four picks, complete with letter grades for each team involved and thoughts on their decisions. Go here for a breakdown of the last five picks of the first round, and here for a look at six of the most interesting late-round picks.

Pick #1: Ottawa sends pick to Calgary (along with Marwan Hage's rights) for Jon Gott, Calgary takes Laval Rouge et Or C Pierre Lavertu.

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Ottawa grade: C+
Calgary grade: B+

I didn't love this move for the Redblacks, as it seemed to be opting for a known commodity over a higher-ceiling prospect, and that seems like a troubling approach; it may help the team in the short term, but could be more problematic over the long term. At least GM Marcel Desjardins was able to trade back up into the first round later on, allowing Ottawa to still grab at least one high-ceiling prospect; that keeps them from a failing grade here. Meanwhile, Calgary did well to move up here for minimal losses, and the Stampeders could do even better if they can talk Hage out of retirement. It struck me as slightly odd that they wanted to get to #1 and take Lavertu, though, as he's a natural centre and they already have a great one in Brett Jones. He says he can shift to guard, but we'll see how that goes. With Lavertu and #2 pick Matthias Goosen both centres, it might have been a somewhat more optimal strategy for the Stampeders to target the #3 or #4 picks in a further swap rather than hanging on to #1. If they can convert Lavertu to a guard successfully, though, this could work out very well for them.

Pick #2: Winnipeg takes SFU Clan C Matthias Goosen
Grade: A-

This was maybe the most logical play in this spot. This draft wasn't incredibly deep on offensive linemen, and some of the best had NFL interest. Goosen was thought by most to be close to Lavertu as one of the best linemen without substantial NFL risk, and Duane Forde said on a conference call last week that he may offer more upside. However, Goosen has spent most of his football career so far playing by American rules (in B.C. high school football and then with SFU in NCAA Division II), which could make this a tough adjustment. "He's going to have more of an adjustment period," Forde said. "He's played his whole life with people not a yard off the ball. I don't think change is ever an advantage." That's the main risk here, that Goosen won't be able to adapt and fulfill his considerable potential.

Pick #3: Edmonton sends pick and 21st overall pick to Toronto for sixth and 15th overall picks, OL Tony Washington, DB Otha Foster and negotiation list rights to an unnamed player, Toronto takes Manitoba Bisons RB Anthony Coombs.

Edmonton grade: A
Toronto grade: C+

This looked like a great move for the Eskimos, as they were able to move down a few slots and still draft a top player (more on that later) while also turning a third-round pick into a second-rounder and acquiring some promising players. The Argonauts' thinking is a little more curious. Yes, the B.C. Lions might have taken Coombs at #4 (they could use Canadian RB depth behind Andrew Harris), so if the Argos really wanted him, moving up makes sense. They gave up an awful lot to do so, though, and it's not like they currently start a Canadian running back. Coombs was an impressive CIS player and might have RB potential in the pros, but it would seem unlikely he's beating out imports Chad Kackert or Jerious Norwood right now. As Mike Hogan reported, the Argos' organization is very high on Coombs, and they got their man; it's just hard to see it being worth the cost unless he turns into a ratio-busting starter, and that doesn't seem in the cards for at least a little while.

Pick #4: Montreal sends pick and 13th overall pick to Ottawa for fifth (obtained from B.C.) and 10th overall picks, Ottawa takes Montreal Carabins DB Antoine Pruneau.

Montreal grade: A-
Ottawa grade: A-
B.C. grade: B-

The moves around the #4 and #5 picks seemed to work for both the Alouettes and Redblacks, but it's a little more questionable for the Lions. The Redblacks wanted to get at least one top-quality prospect who could perhaps make an impact this year, and Pruneau (seen by many as the top DB in this class) may not have been there if they stayed put. Meanwhile, the Alouettes still got a player they wanted at #5 (more on that later) and improved their second-round positioning, allowing them to take another top DB (Andrew Lue) with the 10th pick.

However, while the Lions have landed perhaps the CFL's premier backup in Kevin Glenn and solidified their situation behind Travis Lulay (who's returning from shoulder surgery), it's debatable whether a backup quarterback is worth a first-round pick. Bringing in Glenn gives B.C. experience there if Lulay goes down again or isn't fully recovered, but he's more of a good option than a great one as a starter at this point of his career (why he wasn't able to find a starting job this offseason), and having him in the #2 slot also means less reps for quarterbacks the Lions could develop. Perhaps most importantly, trading their first-round pick for him means they weren't able to grab one of the top-end talents in this draft, and that could hurt them down the road.

Go here for part two of this first-round analysis, and here for a look at later-round picks.

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