The Saskatchewan Roughriders looked to Queensville, Ont., native Corey Watman with their fourth overall pick of the 2013 Canadian Football League draft.
Watman, who stands 6-foot-2, 294-pounds, was an offensive lineman for Eastern Michigan University. He played 46 games with the Eagles, starting in 30 of them.
“We had a number of guys we were thinking about (with the fourth pick),” said general manager Brendan Taman. “But as we looked into Watman, watched video, and did our research, we knew we needed an offensive lineman and that’s where we went.”
Head coach Corey Chamblin became sold on Watman at the evaluation camp.
“It goes all the way back to Toronto when we met him at the evaluation camp,” said Chamblin. “He’ll fit in (here). He reminds me a lot of Dominic Picard. We were very excited he was sitting there. We thought he might go a bit earlier.”
“When he came to us in the meeting room, he was a very smart player and he swore a little bit that’s what I really liked about him. He has that nastiness and that’s what we’ve been really looking for.”
The consensus on Watman is he is a year or less away from ready to make the plunge into the starting lineup.
“We think he’s not too far away that if we needed him he could step in this year,” said Chamblin. “That was one of the key things when we looked at that position. Just like Heenan, we didn’t think he could really step in, but he stepped in and did well.”
At the end of the day, the Riders selected three offensive linemen, two wide receivers, a defensive back, and a linebacker.
In the fifth round, the Roughriders picked offensive lineman Matt Vonk (University of Waterloo), wide receiver Anthony Alex (Wilfred Laurier), defensive lineman Levi Steinhauer (University of Saskatchewan) and wide receiver Spencer Moore (McMaster).
In the sixth round, the Roughriders selected linebacker Thomas Spoletini (Calgary). In the seventh round, the Riders picked Eric Armitage, an offensive lineman from the University of Western Ontario.
Taman believes in a best case scenario four draft picks could crack the Riders this year.
“In reality, I think we would be fortunate to have three or four guys make our team, but that might be a stretch,” said Taman. “In a couple more years we hope more will (make the team).”
“The draft added depth,” added Chamblin. “It added great depth and that’s a position (offensive line) to me you have to have depth at. It’s always good to find them you can’t just go out on the street and find good offensive lineman or good Canadian offensive lineman.”
For Chamblin, it was his second draft as the Riders’ head coach. Not only was he more comfortable at the draft table, but he also had a more clear-cut plan on what type of players he wanted to select this year than last.
“You feel more comfortable (the second time around),” said Chamblin. “Last year we didn’t know what was going to be the team. This year we knew where we needed to improve on.”