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Sport A year after picking Faith Ekakitie first overall in the CFL Draft, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers cut him

22:30  10 june  2018
22:30  10 june  2018 Source:   thecomeback.com

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With the CFL Draft two months away, CFL .ca's Marshall Ferguson takes an early peak out how things may play out on May 7. All of which make me believe the Blue Bombers should lean offence with the first overall selection. 9. ottawa faith ekakitie DL | iowa. Of all my picks in the first round

WINNIPEG – Eight months after he was traded quarterback Drew Willy is still paying dividends for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers . The Bombers used the first overall pick in the CFL Draft they acquired from the Toronto Argonauts to select defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie .

CAPTION: REGINA, SK - JUNE 10: Faith Ekakitie #56 of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the sideline during the pre-season game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Regina, Canada.© Brent Just/Getty Images CAPTION: REGINA, SK - JUNE 10: Faith Ekakitie #56 of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the sideline during the pre-season game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Regina, Canada.

It’s pretty remarkable to see someone go from the first-overall pick in a league’s draft to a training camp cut a year later, but that’s what happened with former Iowa Hawkeyes’ defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie. Ekakitie was a solid player at Iowa, playing in 13 games in his senior year in 2016 and recording 39 total tackles (while bizarrely also making headlines for a Pokemon Go incident), and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected him first overall in the 2017 CFL draft (of Canadian players; Ekakitie is from Brampton, Ontario), but he played in just 14 (of 18) regular-season games in his first season and recorded just five tackles. Even some top CFL picks take a while to break into the league, but there were indications that Ekakitie might be cut heading into this training camp, and that came to pass Saturday evening. So what went so wrong for Ekakitie? Well, even he wasn’t sure of his fit with the team this year:

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie first overall in the CFL draft Sunday night. The move wasn't a surprise as the Bombers were reportedly in contract talks with the 24- year -old Brampton, Ont., native prior to the draft .

TORONTO -- Faith Ekakitie wants to live up to the expectations of a first overall pick . Winnipeg selected the six-foot-two, 304-pound Iowa defensive lineman No. 1 in the CFL draft Sunday.

“To be honest with you I have no clue,” the 25-year-old said Tuesday.

“I don’t really know exactly where I fit in. My goal is honestly just to be able to help the team any way I can. I know it sounds cliché, but our goal is to win a Grey Cup this year and if I can put my personal goals aside to help us win a Grey Cup, then I’ll do whatever.”

…“The first step for me was losing weight and just coming back in a lot better shape than the year before,” Ekakitie said. “I still have a ways to go now, but that was the biggest thing for me, giving myself a chance to compete.

“I wasn’t necessarily gassed last year but in terms of being quick and explosive off the ball, the weight loss has definitely helped in that area. I’m in the type of shape that I need to be in for the CFL game.”

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From the moment he arrived in Winnipeg last spring, Faith Ekakitie showed a penchant for honest self-assessment. He was not ashamed to admit he was out of his element in learning how to play the CFL game

First overall pick Faith Ekakitie played a limited role in the Bombers ’ D-line rotation (Johany Jutras/ CFL .ca). Many felt that Geoff Gray had the talent of a first overall pick

And there were reports that Ekakitie did look more in shape and more impressive this year. But that still might not have been enough, for a couple of reasons. For one, the CFL’s ratio rules (each team must start seven Canadians alongside 16 international (read: American) players and one quarterback (generally also American)) mean that every team needs Canadians, but that they have a fair bit of flexibility in how they set up what positions will be Canadian. The Bombers drafted Ekakitie hoping that he could become a regular starter at defensive tackle, but that wasn’t happening at this point, and they’ve shifted to a plan to start four Americans on the line. So even the backups don’t need to be Canadian at that spot in that case, and Ekakitie’s significant salary as a first-overall pick (estimated as around $90,000 Canadian, around $70,000 U.S.) made it expensive (and the CFL has a salary cap) to keep him as a seldom-used backup who wasn’t helping the team from a ratio perspective.

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Faith Ekakitie of Brampton, shown in action with the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2015, was the first overall pick in the CFL draft on Sunday. The defensive lineman was taken by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers . (Matthew Holst / GETTY IMAGES).

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League selected former Iowa DT Faith Ekakitie No. 1 overall Sunday in the CFL draft . As an Ontario native, Ekakitie helps the Blue Bombers meet league’s quota of at least 21 players per roster being non-imports.

Plus, even at a slimmed-down 292 pounds, Ekakitie wasn’t a great fit for special teams. That’s more because of his position than anything about him, but it’s much easier to stash receivers, linebackers and defensive backs as occasional special teams players. Many top draft picks have had a couple of years of leeway to develop as special teams contributors before turning into regular starters, and playing a position that’s a more natural fit for special teams is an easier way to stick around.

There are a few mitigating factors with this pick, of course. For one, the CFL draft only covers Canadians (Americans enter the league through the negotiation list process or as free agents), so this isn’t a draft of every top player available the way it is in many other sports. And many of the top prospects in the 2017 draft were receiving significant NFL interest, including top-ranked prospect Justin Senior, who wound up signing with the Seahawks; that may have convinced Winnipeg to draft someone who they figured they could at least sign, even if he wasn’t initially their top target (Ekakitie was ranked fifth overall in the final prospect rankings, and 11th and 14th in the two rankings before that). And if this pick had worked out, they would have landed a Canadian who could play an often-American position, which is huge for a team’s ratio.

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1 . winnipeg faith ekakitie DL | iowa. Faith Ekakitie is a CFL -ready NCAA product who fits multiple defensive schemes and is readily available after not testing the NFL like many others. I believe this profile fits what Winnipeg should want to do with the first pick while playing with house money

Brampton, Ont. native and Iowa Hawkeye Faith Ekakitie ( Winnipeg ) is the first player selected in the 2017 CFL Draft on May 7, as the country’s top amateur prospects find new teams in the annual selection draft .

Still, this is a pretty dismal result for the Bombers. Drafting a player only to cut him a year later is far from ideal. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean the decision to cut Ekakitie was wrong (if they weren’t going to use him, it’s a smart move, giving them some cap flexibility and avoiding a sunk-cost fallacy), the decision to take him in the first place should be under a lot of scrutiny now. With the first overall pick, Winnipeg had a great chance to improve their club, and drafting well is key to sustained CFL success. But it sure looks like the Bombers didn’t draft well in this instance. Maybe Ekakitie winds up elsewhere in the CFL and turns into a second-chance success story, or maybe he never plays another down in three-down football, but he certainly didn’t work out in Winnipeg. And that’s quite unfortunate for the Bombers.

[The Winnipeg Sun]

The post A year after picking Faith Ekakitie first overall in the CFL Draft, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers cut him appeared first on The Comeback.

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