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May 17, 2017

Notebook: Roughriders are dealing with their draft picks

Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are getting down to business with their first pick in the 2017 CFL draft.

John Murphy, the Roughriders’ assistant vice-president of football operations and personnel, said the team is “just starting to work on things” with linebacker Cameron Judge. The Roughriders selected the UCLA product in the first round (second overall) of the May 7 draft.

“He went through the weekend with the (NFL’s Houston) Texans and found out on Monday that they were not going to move forward,” said Murphy, referring to Judge’s stint at the Texans’ rookie camp. “We’re just going to give it a day or two to wind down from that situation and now he’s going to be fully engaged with what we’re doing.

“We’ll start showing him versions of what a contract would look like. We’ll work on the easy parts in the next day or so and then hope to hammer out the heavy lifting Thursday or Friday.”

The Roughriders selected nine players in the draft, but it’s unlikely that the team will negotiate with all nine. Receiver Antony Auclair has signed with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so his availability to the Roughriders is in doubt.

But Murphy expects deals can be worked out with the other eight players selected by Saskatchewan. The team’s hope is to get as many of them as possible to sign long-term contracts — and to agree to deals that are workable for the organization.

“We’re going to follow the trend that we tried to work on last year, which was more affordable deals for the team with our rookies,” Murphy said. “We’re OK if other teams want to do something else. It will not impact what we’re doing.”

The Roughriders’ other selections in the draft were offensive linemen Dariusz Bladek, Eddie Meredith, Danny Sprukulis and Marc Glaude, receiver Mitchell Picton, linebacker Alexandre Chevrier and defensive tackle Emmanuel Adusei.

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Several times this off-season, head coach-general manager Chris Jones has mentioned that the Roughriders have administered the Wonderlic test to prospects.

During a conference call with the media Wednesday, Jones explained the team’s use of the test.

“We studied some of the recruiting tendencies of teams in the NFL and their success rates,” he said. “We tried to see exactly what they were benchmarking and that was one of the benchmarks they had, so we incorporated that into our scouting system as well.”

•••

Quarterback Kevin Glenn is with the Roughriders for the third time in his career.

Glenn, who will turn 38 on June 12, has seen older quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Henry Burris succeed in recent seasons. Glenn would like to continue that trend.

“That says a lot about, one, the player but also about the coaches and organizations still believing in quarterbacks that are up in age,” he said.

“We all know that this game is based on the new, faster, younger guys. But when organizations can still put their trust in a veteran, a guy who has the experience to go out and win for them, that player has to actually still be able to perform.”

Not surprisingly, Glenn believes he still has that ability.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” he said, “and I think the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in me too or they wouldn’t have gone out and been able to get the deal done as far as me coming back to Saskatchewan.”

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Having started his CFL career in Saskatchewan in 2001, Glenn knows all about old Mosaic Stadium.

When he found out that facility was to be replaced in 2017, he vowed to stick around so that he could play at new Mosaic Stadium.

That opportunity is now less than a month away. Saskatchewan plays its first pre-season game in the stadium on June 10 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Other players in the league would kill to be in our situation right now,” Glenn said, “so we’re going to appreciate it and do the right thing.”

Jones said the move into the new stadium doesn’t add to the urgency he and his staff feel after last season’s 5-13-0 showing. Their focus is on the field, not on the new facility.

“We’re coaches, right?” Jones said. “We know that the building is extremely nice and it’s one of those situations where we’re fortunate and the timing is really good to be in this position. But we’ve got to concentrate on our football team and let the buildings and the stadium all take care of themselves.”