The 2005 CFL Redraft
The 2005 CFL Draft was strange for two main reasons.
The first was that talent that rings a bell was sparse to even the biggest CFL fan. This crop of talent was not without a handful of top end names but the depth just wasn’t there relative to other drafts of the same era.
The second - and far more interesting - reason this draft jumped out to me was Saskatchewan having three first round picks.
A team controlling 33% of the first round has only happened six times in the last forty years, but five of them came in the 2000’s and all six times it has happened a West Division team has been the one calling the shots.
Saskatchewan in 1989. Calgary in 2003, Saskatchewan in 2005, BC in 2006, Calgary again in 2007 and the Lions again in 2009.
In that era of CFL transactions it appears there was a wild balancing act of CFL teams trying to swing for the fences by trading first round selections being balanced by other teams happy to select multiple teams in the priority picks.
Compare Saskatchewan having three of the first nine picks in this draft to the fact they have just three picks TOTAL in the first SIXTY picks of the 2019 and 2020 CFL drafts combined and you see again how times can change in just a short few decades.
Through it all the Riders missed out on the one true difference maker of this draft, in my recreation he lands safely with the Stampeders 1st overall. The same spot Calgary picks again this April, 15 years later.
1st to Calgary - Western OL Jeff Keeping (Previously 18th overall to Toronto)
A landmark member of the Argos after being selected 18th overall and the only member of the 2005 CFL Draft class to be named a CFL all-star, Keeping was deserving of a higher draft slot during the original picks but his evaluation didn’t match his development once in Toronto.
2nd to Ottawa - Calgary OL Tim O’Neill (Previously 22nd overall to Edmonton)
A durable and consistent centre capable of filling the void when needed during his time in both Calgary and Hamilton, O’Neill could have been a great piece in Ottawa, even if he would’ve just been dispersed in the Renegades collapse to soon follow.
3rd to Saskatchewan - Waterloo OL Chris Best (Previously 4th overall to Saskatchewan)
Best became just about everything you could wish for in an early first round pick, especially on the offensive line. By the end he was tenured and established as a centrepiece of the Riders front five.
4th to Saskatchewan - McMaster RB Jesse Lumsden (Previously 6th overall to Hamilton)
You COULD make the argument that Lumsden should have gone later, or that the Riders were a team based in American running backs but I like to write re-drafts more as a commentary on the effectiveness of a player when active and healthy rather than a time capsule of depth chart needs.
There is no doubting when healthy Lumsden had more than his share of moments in Hamilton and I wonder how beloved he would have been as a young back in Regina.
5th to Montreal - Laval DB Matthew Proulx (Previously 5th overall to Montreal)
When you get the pick right, there is little need to re-draft. Proulx was an effective member of the Alouettes defence and special teams on his way to several playoff appearances before retiring five years in.
6th to Hamilton - Queen’s RB Bryan Crawford (Previously 44th overall to Toronto)
The steal of the draft in 2005 was Bryan Crawford. The Argos got him late but if Hamilton had kept the hometown boy in black and gold he could have contributed in a variety of ways. Since retiring Crawford has excelled in a variety of sports executive roles including at the OUA, Canada Basketball and now as Tournament Director of the RBC Canadian Open.
7th to Saskatchewan - Alberta REC Brett Ralph (Previously 45th overall to Calgary)
Picked one spot behind Crawford, Ralph caught 175 passes in just five years for the Stampeders. No imagine the theoretical flexibility in Saskatchewan with Lumsden and Ralph in the same draft class.
8th to BC - Ottawa DL Adrian Baird (Previously 37th overall to Ottawa)
A solid, steady pass rusher who registered some sacks in his CFL time. In a thin draft class Baird was overlooked.
9th to Toronto - Acadia OL Godfrey Ellis (Previously 10th overall to Calgary)
This is where the Argos took Nick Kaczur, but never got their hands on him. Why not dream up an offensive line pick sure to arrive and contribute for five years in Ellis?
10th to Calgary - Windsor OL John Comiskey (Previously 19th overall to Calgary)
Stability and the right body type for the job, Comiskey’s value should have been higher in hindsight.
11th to Toronto - Regina OL Kyler Jukes (Previously 27th overall to Calgary)
An experienced defensive lineman who made the jump across the ball to pass blocking in hopes of raising his draft stock, Jukes had a nice little career before retiring prior to the start of training camp in 2009.
12th to Montreal - Manitoba DB David Hewson (Previously 36th overall to Calgary)
An effective special teams tackle, Hewson made 11 special tackles for the Argos in 2006.
13th to Montreal - Saskatchewan RB Jeff Piercy (Previously 12th overall to Montreal)
Piercy spent most of his time on specials but was an effective CIS ball carrier leading the Huskies through the playoff with bruising runs in both his junior and senior seasons while also winning bronze at the Canada West 35-metre weight throwing competition in 2004.
14th to Toronto - Toledo OL Kick Kaczur (Previously 9th overall to Toronto)
The Argos clearly thought he was worth the risk, but at 9th overall? Perhaps looking back they would have waited a bit to try getting better value at their only first round selection.
15th to Hamilton - McMaster OL Matt O'Meara (Previously 3rd overall to Saskatchewan)
A third overall pick who was traded a few years later for just a fifth round pick tells the story, but O’Meara was an effective depth piece in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg over his five playing years.
16th to Montreal - McMaster OL Fabio Filice (Previously 15th overall to Hamilton)
Some say higher, some say lower, but there is no doubting Filice was a dominant blocker in University who with more time and opportunity could have stretched his legs more in the CFL.
17th to BC - Kentucky LB Raymond Fontaine (Previously 11th overall to Toronto)
A special teams contributor with upside athleticism who never came to contribute as much as an 11th overall pick would suggest was hoped for.
18th to Toronto - San Jose State OL Andrew Paopao (Previously 50th overall to Hamilton)
As described earlier, this draft was about as thin as they come. The name alone might have been worth the risk in hindsight.
Marshall Ferguson is a former U SPORTS Quarterback, now serving as TSN 1150 Hamilton morning show host, voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and CFL.ca analyst.