We start our CFL Draft team previews with the defending champions. Obviously you don’t win the Grey Cup without solid Canadian content and the RedBlacks certainly have that. Offseason departures have given that content a hit, though they are far from being in dire straits.
Picks: 8 picks, first selection is #9
2016 Draft Assessment: Got a big win with their #7 overall pick Jason Lauzon-Seguin who started 12 games as a rookie, primarily at tackle. That alone makes the draft a success. As for the rest of the draft, mostly depth players like Mikael Charland and Randy Beardy, and players like Jamal Kett and Kyle Fraser Audit looking to make the team in year 2. Interesting play to watch is 3rd round pick Mehdi Abdesmad who is still down south. Overall a decent draft for a team with minimal needs.
Potential Pipeline: DL Mehdi Abdesmad (NFL - Tennessee), TE Tyler Digby (lacrosse)
Current Strengths: Very good depth on both sides of the trenches. On the O-line they have guys like Gott, MacMillan, Mateas, Lauzon-Seguin and Albright. On the D-line, Evans has developed into a stud in the middle (guess Ottawa is lucky a short-sighted GM left him unprotected in the expansion draft, not that I'm still bitter about that) and they have Williams and Gascon-Nadon on the end with Marshall and Lattanzio for depth. A bit of a down year for Antoine Pruneau but he’s still starting material. Also have a solid starter in Brad Sinopoli. They could easily start 8 Canadians (and often do).
Current Needs: If they plan on maintaining 4 starting Cdn OL like they did at the end of last season than more depth is needed there (especially given the offseason departure of J’Michael Deane). Not convinced they have the depth needed to replace Pruneau if he goes down, so another playmaking DB/LB would be a good add. Also given that they gave Milo the boot (he reportedly hit the uprights on the way out), there is some uncertainty at kicker. There isn’t necessarily a starting calibre kicker in the draft but likely a late round addition to the kicking competition is in order.
Beyond that, the RedBlacks have the luxury of taking the best player available.
Prediction: I see them going defense in Round 1. I can’t see Eli Ankou still being there at #9 so for D-line possibly Faith Ekakitie or Kwaku. I think the greater need is an LB/DB depth so most likely they end up with like Christophe Mulumba or Dondre Wright. Round 2 sees them address OL depth. The mid to late rounds will be used to add WR and LB depth as well as the previously mentioned kicker.