After the off-season signing of high profile free agents Brendan LaBatte and Dominic Picard to bolster their offensive line, some commentators speculated that the Riders might pass on consensus #1 pick Ben Heenan in today’s CFL draft and instead look to plug other roster spots like receiver or linebacker where they are weak in Canadian talent. But in the end, the Riders played it safe and took Heenan (pictured at left with Rider President Jim Hopson).

Had I been picking, I might have been tempted to go with Wilfred Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers. With blazing speed, and solid size (6’3″, 220 pounds) he would have made a fine replacement for the departed Andy Fantuz. Chambers eventually went sixth overall to the Edmonton Eskimos, and also has a tryout scheduled with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Still, you can’t really argue with what the Riders did. Born in Regina, Heenan played his university football with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. If, down the road, he blossoms into a solid CFL lineman, his Saskatchewan roots should give the Riders a bit of an edge in resigning him once he becomes eligible for free agency and is courted by other teams. But it certainly leaves the team stacked along the offensive line. 

Here’s a link to the TSN report on the Riders picking Heenan. And here’s a link to a list of all the players who were picked in the six round draft.