WINNIPEG - Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack is looking at six-foot-eight draft pick Tyson Pencer to help fill the very large shoes of players like recently retired tackle Doug Brown.
"We've talked a lot, all of us, about the need for Canadian talent," Mack said Thursday, after giving up his eighth and 13th picks to Hamilton in order to move up to the No. 3 spot in the first round of the 2012 CFL draft and grab Pencer.
Mack also pointed to the loss of Saskatchewan native Brendon LaBatte, who left in the off-season as a free agent to play for the Roughriders. LaBatte was an offensive lineman.
"You're always trying hopefully to get someone that can eventually be a starter."
Mack said he sees that in Pencer, a native of North Delta B.C., who impressed Mack when playing at Washington State.
"He played left tackle at Washington State against some really good competition as a young man."
Last season he left for the Okanagan Sun of the Canadian Junior Football League, but Mack says injuries and academic problems kept Pencer off the field.
"We've spoken to him already. He's very, very excited. He's healthy. He's feeling great about it. He said that he wants to be one of the all-time great Bombers. That's great to hear."
Mack expects Pencer to report to camp this season.
"Wow!! Dreams come true!! I'm a Winnipeg Blue Bomber!!." Pencer tweeted shortly after he was picked.
The Bombers identified Pencer as one of three players who could help the team return to the Grey Cup, which they lost last year to the B.C. Lions.
But offensive lineman Ben Heenan was snapped up by Saskatchewan as the No. 1 pick and defensive lineman Jabar Westerman went to the Lions at No. 2.
Pencer wasn't even seeded in the top-10 picks.