In 2013 the Riders’ Canadian content was among the best in the League. In just 2 short years that eroded to among the bottom feeders (no surprise their place in the standings followed a similar trend). Big challenge facing Chris Jones and John Murphy in rebuilding the Canadian core of this team. They made some big additions in free agency to help in this regard but will the work is far from over.
Picks: 6 picks, first selection is 1st overall
2015 Draft Assessment: With the 6th overall pick they got a much needed impact Canadian in Nic Demski. He made some impressive plays in year 1 and I think his impact will increase exponentially in year 2. Beyond that though, there wasn’t a lot a great things from that draft. Rory Connop and Brandon Tennant were forced into starting roles way too early in their career (turns out that blindly assuming you can fill a starting Canadian DT spot with a rookie drafted in the 3rd round or later is poor ratio management… I’m sure you’re all shocked). Connop may have a future as a backup. 4th rounder Matt Rea spent the season at fullback but was generally unimpressive. DB Kwame Adjei and RB Melvin Abankwa rounded out the draft class. Adjei returned to school and will try again this year to crack the roster.
Potential Pipeline: n/a
Current Strengths: I think the Riders are real strong at receiver with Demski, Bagg and Chambers (assuming he can stay healthy) with Haidara and Carroll around for depth. One of the biggest free agent signings was Justin Capicciotti who can not only lock down a starting spot at DE but do so at an all-star level. Depth behind him looks good with Ainsworth, Hazime, and Steinhauer. LaBatte is still among the elite OL in the League. Best is pretty good and Clark seems to have found a home at Centre. I also think that O’Day picking up Tyler Crapigna in the Messam trade last season will turn out to be a great move. I’m very confident in him. In theory Graig Newman solidifies the safety spot for us (with Webster, West and Campbell for depth). I have some doubts as he has yet to be a fulltime starter (despite showing tons of promise) Then again, if Chris Jones can turn Cauchy Muamba into a useful safety then I guess we should not worry about Newman.
Current Needs: Everything... seriously. Last year exposed how non-existent the national depth on this team was and you can’t just rebuild that overnight. Jones has brought in a lot of players to help re-establish that depth (Walter, Hazime, T Campbell, A Jones) but more work is needed.
I see 2 deficiencies as the most glaring. The first is O-line where depth is next to non-existent and there isn’t really any credible competition for our current starters. The other is linebackers. We have 1 Cdn LB and our stable of Cdn special teamers is pretty barren at this point. So either LBs or guys in the mould of Craig Butler that can play safety and LB are greatly needed. I expect our picks to be devoted to that and OL.
Prediction: The big question is does Jones keep the #1 pick or deal it. Provided he can get the return he is looking for, I think it makes a ton of sense to deal it. There is no consensus #1 pick but a number of quality picks at each position. We need quantity more than we need one stud at this point (especially since we predictably are without a second round pick). I imagine the asking price is either 2 top 15 picks or a Canadian player (most likely OL or LB) and a top 10 pick. If someone will pay that, then a deal will happen.