May 7, 2017 - 5:50pmUpdated: May 7, 2017 - 10:43pm
Chris Jones says Cameron Judge gives the Riders more Canadian depth on defence.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have taken linebacker Cameron Judge with the second overall pick in the CFL Draft.
Judge was a linebacker and special teamer with UCLA, playing in 11 games in the 2016 season, making two starts. He collected a career-high 20 tackles along with one interception last season.
"He's a guy that can come in and compete special teams-wise right away and he's got about three different positions defensively that he can play," Jones said moments after making the pick. "Most importantly if we have an injury or whatever inside we're able to put an American at guard and it gives us a little bit more flexibility."
Aside from the Canadian depth he provides, Jones said his performance on his pro day was impressive.
"Anybody that can broad (jump) 10 (feet) 11 (inches) and runs (4.5-second 40-yard dash) that plays linebacker in our league, regardless of what nationality they are, they got a chance to be successful."
In a conference call with the league’s two other top picks Faith Ekakitie and Daniel Vandervoort, Judge said after waiting all weekend to be picked in the NFL draft being taken second overall felt a lot better.
“It was pretty long weekend last weekend not hearing my name so it was definitely a relief this time around,” Judge said.
The six-feet-two-inches tall Judge lived in Canada for eight years and was born in Montreal. He played the Canadian game growing up and said he attended CFL game when he was a kid.
Judge will be attending a rookie camp with the Houston Texans this weekend and admitted that his first choice is to play in the NFL.
“That’s my goal still but … if I don’t make the team then I’m definitely coming up there to play and I’m going to give it everything I got and be fully committed to this team.”
Jones said the team was in discussions to trade down from the second overall pick because they were looking for a pick in the third round. The Riders gave up a third round pick last year when they selected Kevin Francis in the supplemental draft.
"Unfortunately people (were) just asking a little bit too much to do that, so we stuck where we were at and we got a real good player."
In 47 career games, Judge had 30 solo and 16 assisted tackles.
RIDERS 'REALLY SOLID' IN THEIR DRAFT, JONES SAYS
All in all the Roughriders picked up nine new Canadian players that could one day be stars on the team. After going through 20 to 25 mock drafts, Jones says he's happy with the outcome.
“We feel like we were really solid in our draft," he said after all eight rounds concluded.
That's in part because the Riders were able to get their top two choices: Judge and offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek.
"Bladek was the highest rated guard that we had that could come right now, so we were fortunate we feel like to get him in the second,” Jones said.
Bladek's mom was also pretty excited about her son being drafted.
Jones said he hopes that his first two picks will be able to make an impact on the team right away, and said the ones after the first couple rounds will likely take a little bit of time to develop before they're ready.
Regina Rams fans will also be happy to hear that the Roughriders picked up local Regina native Mitchell Picton in the fifth round.