Last week’s acquisition of Zach Collaros addressed the biggest area of need on the Riders’ roster headed in to 2018. But unfortunately for us the rest of the League won’t just roll over and let us ascend to the top (well, I mean Montreal might as this point, but the others won’t). While we are in a great starting point stability-wise, we still have some holes in our roster than we are going to need to address to build a strong enough supporting cast around Collaros to contend for top spot in the West.
There are still plenty of opportunities to address those areas of need: re-sign pending free agents, sign other teams’ free agents, the draft, free agent camps in the States. More trades are another possibility as well. Regardless of the method, here are the areas of need on the Rider roster (at least as of me writing this… the Riders have a habit of announcing roster moves immediately after I make off-season posts that render most of what I’ve just typed irrelevant.)
#1 – Defensive Line
Two issues here: quantity and quality. Quantity wise, even if you include Willie Jefferson (who Jones has essentially said will be back) we only have 5 D-linemen on the roster. I imagine we re-sign at least a couple of Steele, Henry, Mrabure and Leonard but still we need more linemen. But from a quality perspective we really need to give Jefferson a strong supporting cast. Guy is flat out one of the best D-ends in the League and that’s in spite of doing most of it on his own. Can you imagine how deadly he could be with a stronger line taking some of the attention off him? I’m a big James supporter but we should still be looking for DTs (both Canadian and imports) to strengthen the middle. There will be some big names potentially hitting free agency (Laurent, Laing Evans) and I fully expect us to draft a Canadian DL with one of our top picks. We also could use some upgrading a the other DE spot. I really like what Antigha showed in his rookie year but one more impact DE to rotate with him and Willie would be awesome.
#2 – Canadians
I know its early but at this point I honestly can’t tell you where our 6th and 7th starting Canadians will come from. Safety and MLB for sure and a min of 3 on offense (2 OL, 1 WR). Beyond that?? I’m assuming we maintain a starting Canadian DT (though we currently have 0 of them signed). That leaves either a 3rd Cdn OL or a 2nd Cdn Receiver as the 7th spot. I think we could easily play 3 interior Cdn OL but Bruce Campbell made a pretty good case to be brought back at left tackle. Assuming we re-sign one of Demski or Bailey we aren’t in a bad spot for starting 2 WRs but regardless more depth is needed there. Also the surprise departure of Bouka leaves a whole in terms of Cdn depth in the secondary.
#3 Impact Receiver
Could we get through a season with a Roosevelt/Grant/Owens/Holley combo? You bet. But if we really want our new start QB to light it up we should give him one more offensive weapon. Ideally we bring back Duron to fill that need but if for some reason we don’t we will need another stud to complement Roosevelt (please don’t read that as “another stud to compliment Roosevelt”).
As of right now Dan Clark remains unsigned… and regardless of whether we re-sign him (I assume we will) we should be looking for a new centre. Look I know hating on Dan Clark makes me un-patriotic around these parts but I call it like I see it. I don’t think he’s a bad person, just a bad starting lineman. Maybe Bladek can win the job? Either way we currently have a void a centre and even if we re-sign Clark he will still periodically leave a void at Centre.
I’m still working under the assumption that Kacy Rodgers signs in the NFL (though no deal has been announced yet). You will also know that the next logical man up (Chris Lyles) I hate as much, if not more, than Dan Clark. The potential free agent market for DBs could be deepest in as long as I can remember. Calgary’s entire secondary, most of BC’s, a lot of Winnipeg’s could all potentially hit the free agent market. Basically a who’s who of top end DBs (sure glad we have our halfbacks locked up long-term). Now NFL signings and CFL re-signings will thin the market a bit prior to February. But if we were inclined to address this need via Free agency there are a ton of good options. Could also just find a new one. We found Rodgers, Butler and Cox (even though that didn’t work out).