Hard to believe but we are just a few short weeks away from training camp opening. Alleluia! With that in mind I thought today I go through what I like and what I dislike about the current state of our roster. Now obviously my number 1 dislike is that Vince Young is still on the roster but you already knew that so I'll focus on other things today.
Like: Canadian Depth
When I look at the positions we intend to start Canadians at I see legitimate starters, and good depth to either fight for a starting spot or at the least provide depth. At safety: Brouilette, Edem, Hecht. At DL: Steele, Gaydosh, Mrabure. At RB LaFrance, Morris, Milton. We even seem to be rebuilding our OL depth (another Alleluia). We are a ways off of having the top Canadian content in the league but we have definitely improved over recent years.
Dislike: Defensive End
I love Willie Jefferson (feel free to pause her and chuckle at the fact that I said I love Willie) but I do not like AC Leonard and I see Newsome more as a good rotational guy than an impact starter. Unless this Gary Wilkins is all his mini-camp hype is made up to be (and we all know that hype is rarely ever unfounded, especially in camp), I just don't see much in terms of competition to push Leonard and Newsome. Unless we convert another basketball player or something.
Like: Battle at Receiver
Roosevelt, Carter, Owens, Grant, Holley, Edwards, Collins, Craig.... Minimum of 3 of these guys will not make the team and its not due to talent. To make this team as a receiver means you are going to have to play some damn good football at camp/pre-season. The end result can only benefit our offense.
Dislike: Our sad sack attempts at QB recruitment
I'll leave Young out of this for the sake of brevity. Simply put we have yet to recruit a single young QB with potential. Bridge and Bennett came because their former teams let them go. Bennett sounds like he may have potential but thus far our scouting has netted us essentially nothing in the QB department... other than a fine for meeting with Johnny Manziel's publicist to talk about gardening and totally not to talk about that workout that never happened.
Like: Special Teams Play
Its usually not talked about unless its brutal but its tough to be a top end team without great special teams play. With additions like Love and Judge (assuming he signs) we are taking important steps to improve our play on teams. Not since the days of the Hair Force have we really excelled on special teams. This could be about to change.
It scares me. The loss of Cox was huge. We should be solid at safety. Gainey can cover one spot. But that leaves 3 spots to fill and minimal experience to do so with. Rodgers should take one spot. But we'll need to fill an HB spot (preferably 2 so Gainey can bump out to corner where he plays better). Lots riding on Zavian Bingman to pan out but even if he does we still need more starters, not to mention depth for when injuries hit. It took us half a season to develop a competent secondary and I feel we are only slightly ahead of last year at this point.
We will have to see how founded my concerns are come training camp.
I agree. Outside of Jefferson the D-line looks extremely weak. There is no way Newsome or Leonard would be good enough to start on any other team in the CFL
Very good commentary. Jones/Murphy have improved National content but mostly on special teams. So I like those 2 areas & the receivers as well. I don't like the whole DL, not just DE. Jefferson is great, also don't like Leonard & for a guy who had 6 sacks in 16 games with Indy, Newsome had 2 in 18 games here - not good enough for a DE in the CFL. Minter & Steele were backups last year, Gaydosh has only managed 10 games & 2 tackles due to injuries & Mrabure came from BC's PR & is a project, however, with potential. QB & secondary are areas of concern but I also don't like our RB's. Great to have 3 Nationals but LaFrance was Ottawa's #4 receiver & has 43 career carries with a mundane 4.2 yd average. The backups, Milton & Morris, have 15 career CFL carries combined-special teamers. The problem is a number of projected starters were "extras" elsewhere. In a nutshell, my concern is this. The other West clubs have Jennings, Mitchell & Reilly. Then there's Messam, Harris, White & Johnson not to mention the OL's allowing the fewest sacks - Cal (1st), Edm (2nd) & Wpg/BC (tied for 3rd). Don't even get me started on the D side of the ball. Just look @ the dominant DT's on the other clubs. Depressing.
Chris - I agree
Anon - Steele is just a couple seasons removed from a 6 sack season where he was a bona fide starter (under Chris Jones). I think he is a safe bet. Minter is more of a gamble I agree but I like him.
I will also concede that LaFrance is a big gamble and far from a sure thing based on his small body of actual work. Morris showed a couple nice flashes last season so I'm hopeful there. As a fall back we also have Cameron Marshall in camp if the Canadian thing doesn't pan out.
Hard to argue that we aren't still the bottom team in the west. I suggest stocking up on booze.
There's always hope - training camp will sort things out. Would we be interested in Augustin if the Esks drop him? I can't see where he fits in with White & Tran. I'm also wondering if Hoffman-Ellis would interest the Riders - not that we need to keep stocking up on ex-Eskimos. But losing our top 2 tacklers in Foster & Knox hurts & we could use some more competition @ training camp. He filled in nicely for Elimimian a couple of years ago. Your blog always a great read. Can count on a straight take on things rather than a blatant Rider bias which isn't helpful to Rider fans.
Funny you should mention Hoffman-Ellis, I had the same thought about him. At this point what does it hurt to bring him to camp.
Appreciate the kind words.
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