If there is one area of the Riders that has been a persistent concern year after year its the D-Line. Since 2008 only the Argos have managed less sacks than the Riders. Quite frankly if you’re looking for sacks you have a better chance of finding them in a group of eunuchs and lesbians than along the Riders D-line.
So as we seem to do every year, we head into 2012 looking to upgrade our pass rush.
Who’s In The Mix:
Tackle: Keith Shologan, Booooooooo Robinson, Mick Williams, Tearrius George,
End: Odell Willis, Brent Hawkins, Chris Ellis, Kenny Rowe, David Veikune, Curtis Gatewood, Matthieu Boulay
Projected Starter: Shologan and Willis are locks. With George and Hawkins as the likely guys to beat for the other 2 spots.
Thoughts: Outside of Shologan this whole group is a pile of question marks. The prospect of Willis and Hawkins off the edge is pretty exciting but that all depends on IF Hawkins’ shoulders can stay healthy (which given their current pace is about akin to hoping demonstrations in Montreal stay peaceful) and IF Odell Willis can get across the border (which seems like a fairly safe bet at that this point... provided he takes the bus) and IF we get the Odell Willis who is useful (as opposed to the one that was so useless in the second half of last season that you would have thought he was already on the Riders). That’s too many Ifs to be confident at this point.
And I don’t think Hawkins is a lock even if he’s healthy. Rowe looked okay last year in his brief time but it was hard to tell if he was actually good or just better than the other crap we got used to seeing. Guess we will see some training camp. And I’m excited to see what the new guys (Ellis in particular) can bring).
As for the other tackle spot, I’m personally pulling for Booooooo Robinson but that is based purely on name. He will have to beat George the vet and fellow new comer Williams. I’m hoping one of the new guys will win it out. Not because I have anything against George, I just think he would be most effective on the edge or as a depth/rotation guy. He didn’t seem to play his best inside (and he was one of our best DL last year... which isn’t high praise I know but still). I do wish we had a bit more competition at DT.
Prophet’s Player To Watch: Chris Ellis
Outlook: Much like our running game, we are starting pretty much at the bottom of the barrel so there is nowhere to go but up. If we get good Willis that will go a long way towards turning things around. Guess its time to see whether Taman's big gamble paid off.