The CFL Draft is important to your team. If you don’t know that already, Justin Rowan tells you why dismissing it is a mistake.
The 2016 CFL Draft has come and gone, signalling what truly feels like the start to another season in the three down league. As a fan and season ticket holder myself, the draft is a reminder of the coming season and a signal to kick my preparation into high gear. Re-familiarizing myself with the roster, the additions over the spring, who will no longer be there, what stories should be watched for and more. But until recently, the draft itself hasn’t been something that I put a lot of focus on. My perceptions of it and the amount of focus that I’ve given it have varied over the years, but recently I’ve began to truly understand the importance of it.
At a time of year where the both the NHL and NBA playoffs are in full swing, getting people that are invested in multiple sports, like myself, to really get hyped up and tune in to the draft is likely a tall order. But even though the draft may be understated and so many other viewing options exist, it doesn’t take away from just how important the draft is for your favourite team.
Being an occasionally cynical/ sarcastic person, my initial perceptions of the draft growing up were fairly dismissive. “It’s just guys who aren’t good enough to make the NFL”, “If you draft anybody that’s too good you’ll end up losing him” were common criticisms that you can still hear echoed by some people today. But as I became more educated on the draft and began to fully understand the importance of having quality non-import players on the roster, I began to pipe-down with my criticisms and start to invest more into the draft.
Reading draft primers and recaps following the draft has become an annual thing for me. While not everybody drafted is going to make the team, seeing what direction the team decides to go in the draft helps you gain a better understanding of where they think the biggest holes are in the team and where they are trying to improve. The fact that not everybody in the draft is going to make the team is no different than the draft in any other league. There’s no foolproof way to identify a franchise cornerstone or identify a player who’s skills just aren’t going to translate to the next level. When you consider that seven of your starters must be non-imports, accumulating quality Canadian talent at multiple positions provides teams with the depth and versatility needed to separate themselves from the rest of the league.
Maybe there is an opportunity to make the draft more than what it currently is and get people more invested. I know personally I would enjoy more features on the players to learn their stories and gain a better understanding of where they came from. (There were some great ones by CFL.ca this year). Most of the players in the CFL draft probably grew up watching the CFL and making it to this point. The journey to finally make it in any profession is never without obstacles and an increased understanding of what these players have been through and just how truly talented they are might help change how the draft is perceived by some. But as of right now the draft feels incredibly Canadian. It’s understated, and while people may not focus on it as much as other drafts, it’s just as important and plays a large part in which teams can find and maintain success in this league.
Justin Rowan is a Canadian writer that currently writes for the SB Nation Cleveland Cavaliers blog Fear The Sword, as well as Hoops Lounge. You can follow him on Twitter @Cavsanada.