Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CFL Draft 2014 Team Preview: BC Lions

Under Wally Buono the Lions have exemplified the “draft the best player available” mentality. That is likely one of the leading reasons BC has tended so have one of the better cores of Canadian talent.

Picks: 8 picks, first selection is 5th Overall

2013 Draft Assessment: Took a chance on highly touted OL prospect Hunter Steward in round 1 which paid off when he signed this offseason. Got lucky enough to get SJ Hairdara in round 2 and I think he will soon develop into an impact player. Got some good role players like back-up OL Matt Albright and DB Matt McGarva in the late rounds. Overall they did well.

Potential Pipeline: OL Danny Watkins (Miami/possibly done with football), DB OJ Atogwe (NFL), DL Rob Meier (retired from NFL), LB Bo Lokombo (college)

Current Strengths: BC is blessed with offensive playmakers so good that their Cdn birth certificates are just a bonus. There is of course Andrew Harris who is great at both running and receiving. I consider Shawn Gore to the best Cdn WR in the league and when you factor in Haidara, Ianuzzi and Poblah it makes for arguably the best group of Cdn receivers in the league. Jabar Westerman is a developing talent at DL. Jason Aragki is a solid special teamer. And they have decent talent at the interior of their OL (when healthy).

Current Needs: Last year injuries really tested their depth at OL and this offseason has been just as brutal to that depth. Angus Reid retired, Patrick Kabongo likely will too. Matt Albright was snatched by Ottawa. And Steve Myddelton signed in Hamilton. The addition of Steward definitely helps but Dean Valli has had his share of injury issues and Kirby Fabien is just coming off a knee injury that cost him almost all of 2013. Bottom line is BC will need to restock the shelves at OL.

Also, for the past number of years the glaring weakness in an otherwise solid secondary has been safety. They have tried the likes of Cauchy Muamba and JR LaRose and still not found an impact player. Their big plan was to lure Craig Butler to address that issue but to a lot of people’s surprise (including them) they missed out and are now left scrambling for alternatives.

Other needs include building depth at DL if they want Westerman to factor in as a starter. I would suggest they draft a kicker but it appears I will retire before McCallum.

Prediction: Really hard to say where Buono goes in round 1. I think ideally they would target an OL but there will be an early run on them and there may not be one left at #5 worthy of a first round pick. They may also look for a DB like Adam Thibault which I think is the most likely scenario with them stocking up on OL in subsequent rounds (remember that Matt Norman was a 3rd rounder). Then again Buono may deem a DL like Quinn Smith or Dylan Ainsworth too good to pass on if they are still there. One thing I am sure of though, is that BC is the most likely to make a trade to move up a few spots or try for another 1st round pick.

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