After leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a shameful record of 4-14 in 2010, GM Joe Mack and head coach Paul LaPolice had their work cut out for them heading into their second year at the helm of the franchise. With the new football stadium slowly but steadily taking shape on the University of Manitoba campus, the Blue Bombers organization are well on their way in their mission to rebuild a younger and faster Blue Bomber team.
After trading back-up quarterback Steven Jyles to the Toronto Argonauts for their fourth overall pick in this year’s CFL draft — and a fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 CFL draft — the Bombers appear ready to address the lack of non-import depth that has been plaguing the team for years.
With the first overall pick in this year’s draft, the Bombers selected linebacker Henoc Muamba out of St. Francis Xavier University. During his last season at StFX, Muamba earned CIS first team All-Canadian honours and was awarded the President’s Trophy, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the CIS. The 22-year-old Mississauga native has the opportunity to be a quality starting LB and ratio-buster for the Blue Bombers in the foreseeable future.
With the fourth-overall draft pick, via Toronto, the Bombers selected University of Saskatchewan Huskies wide receiver Jade Etienne. Etienne started his Canadian collegiate career as a kicker before being converted to wide receiver for 2010. It proved to be a breakout year, as Etienne hauled in 28 passes for 721 yards and six touchdowns in only seven games. With a year of CIS eligibility remaining, if Etienne fails to make the team roster he will likely head back to the University of Saskatchewan to receive more in-game experience.
The Bombers also used their first-round draft pick in 2012 to snag Central Michigan University wide receiver Kito Poblah in the CFL supplemental draft. The Montreal-born receiver has been consistent and impressive throughout training camp and should be a lock to make the team, at the very least starting out on the special teams unit.
After losing 10 games by a touchdown or less in 2010, it’s safe to say that things aren’t as grim in Bomber nation as they appear to be. With only six players over the age of 30 on the Bomber’s current roster, Mack has pulled together a team full of young and exciting athletes who just might mature together into a force to be reckoned with.
Bomber fans have been forced to recognize the importance of drafting young and versatile Canadian talent. They’ve watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders enjoy the spoils of a deep cast of Canadian talent at wide receiver, earning berths in three of the last four Grey Cups. After all the work put in over this offseason, it appears that Mack and LaPolice are finally ready to address the lack of Canadian depth, specifically at WR, head on.