While we still have to wait another month for football to actually start it certainly feels like the new season is upon us. Mini-camp and come and gone and Thursday the CFL Draft (the poorer bastard cousin of the NFL draft) goes down. The agonizing offseason is almost over. Let's talk football.
Given that the lucrative world of blogging doesn't allow the kind of budget to get me to Florida to see mini-camp for myself (hell it doesn't allow the kind of budget to get mini donuts for myself) I don't have a whole lot to say about it. Clearly our priority is looking for WRs, DBs and LBs as almost all prospects were from those positions. Receiver will once again be a hotly contested spot in main camp. With no MLB and no import depth at LB it's hardly surprising to see us looking at that. Chris Jones always has a bunch of DBs in camp and its a signal that no spots will be freely given. In particular I would say Jovon will have a battle on his hands to keep his spot. The only surprising thing to me is how few D-line we have signed. We have 9 under contract and 7 will be on the starting roster (possibly 8). I really like the guys we have but I would have thought at least some competition would be in order.
One of the LBs at mini camp was Eric Striker. As if Striker isn't an awesome name for a guy who hits people for a living. I like his name so much that he is probably doomed for failure. As pretty much every name I like never amounts to anything (just ask Eltorro Freeman or Boo Robinson about the Prophet curse).
The other news out of mini camp was a few releases. The most notable were Dyakowski and Meredith. Now, on his own Meredith is not overly noteworthy. He was a long shot to pan out after being out of football when we drafted him. But releasing 2 Cdn OL is noteworthy. As for Dykowski, I thought he'd make it to camp but was truthfully hoping he would get beat out as a starter. Obviously the team saw that as likely. He was welcome addition early last season but started to show his age as the season wore on. Given the age of our OL it was high time we start a bit of a youth movement.
That segues nicely into talking about the CFL Draft on Thursday. I mused last Monday in my team preview that I saw us taking an OL first. With the Dyakowski/Meredith release that went from possibility to almost a certainty. When you assume that we need a new starting RG and 2 back-ups, we only have Bladek, St John and Zver to fill those (and of those only Bladek can be considered a safe bet). We need another OL and are in a good position to add a quality one in Round 1. Round 2 I still see Simonise as the target but if he's not there then defense (DL or DB) seems the likely back-up plan. Another thing to watch for is Chris Jones to take a risk. Be it Oneymata in 2016 (which is a long shot to put it nicely) or Auclair in 2017 (at possibility at least), Jones it not afraid to take chances.
I'll have my highly anticipated annual Mock Draft up tomorrow. In the spirit of full disclosure I will re-word that to my possible anticipated by a couple people wild ass guessing at the draft order will be up at some point in the near future.
Looking forward to your mock draft. I have said all along even prior to the release of Dyakowski & Meredith, neither of which I saw as a starter, that OL is the biggest area needing addressing. Bladek looks like Dyakowski's replacement but I don't see him as a tackle, nor do I see Bond as a good choice there though he's appeared as the top dog at LT in a depth chart recently. He's too heavy & hasn't played the position, at least in the CFL. Maybe elsewhere some 40 pounds lighter in the past - who knows. If Campbell isn't back, I suspect Coleman moves to LT unless we come up with someone in mini-camp or trade. Personally, the likelihood of getting a good LT in trade is minimal. Of course, there's always someone like Fulton out there. But should it be handled in house, there is then a logjam at guard meaning LaBatte logically ends up at centre & Clark backs up. I felt the OL we had with LaBatte at centre was the best combo last season - not a Clark guy. Never have been. That means we still have to find a LT/RT. Does that mean St. John starts at RT? However I look at it, the OL with 2, maybe 3 new starters is going to be a big area to watch & THAT directly impacts Collaros & our last place running game of last year. Dyakowski & Meredith weren't the answers but we gotta hope the kids are ready this year. Or, unless Jones gets really lucky, we end up with another Dyakowski for Edwards trade - good asset traded away for a stop gap measure. I don't see any team, maybe nutty Kavis, giving us a decent OL for a song. On defence we look pretty good except for the LB's. You can't lose 3 veterans like Muamba, Knox & Foster & not worry. Eguavoen is good, Moncrief MAY be good but it's a small sample & Hurl makes me want to. Depth - a lot of special teamers, most of whom are just that. Francis didn't pan out as a safety so I have no idea why bloggers think he'll be a great LB & Judge, I won't hold my breath on that pick. Lots of questions, answers to come over the next few weeks. Keep up the good work.
One more comment which I omitted above. Are the rumours true that Groulx is close to signing with Regina? When not injured he was pretty good but lost out in the numbers game in Edmonton. He would be a good add for depth if nothing else. Better than some of the guys we got IMO.
You are right that neither Meredith or Dyakowski were the answer. I think there was slight hope that Meredith could regain the form that once had him as a top prospect but no such luck. As for OL, tons of potential combinations. Let's start with the interior 3. I like Labatte at centre even though it takes him out of his natural spot. I can't see that being plan A but who knows. Could go Labatte/Clark/Bladek or Labatte/Bladek/St John or Labatte/Clark/Bond (though I think for ratios reasons 3 Cdns is the plan). As for tackle, Bond is the big question. Can't see us signing him unless we had plans to play him and all signs point to 3 Cdn OL. You could move Coleman but he's occupied that RT spot for every game under Chris Jones so I don't see it. Campbell is a maybe (and likely the best option). I give long shot to St John at tackle (in theory with Zver for depth). Honestly at this point I think we'd be happy with him dressing regularly so starting tackle seems a big leap but never say never. Whatever the combination is I agree that it will dictate our season. No protection and Collaros will struggle and we will lose. Simple as that.
Only team with an excess of good Cdn is Edmonton and I can't see them parting with one cheap.
LBs are a question. A D-line that gets good pressure is no good if they can just run up the middle on you. Hope we can find someone decent. Sample size may be small but I am a huge Moncrief believer. Francis strikes me as a solid special teams/emergency fill in, no more. Judge is a question mark but hopefully he pans out.
As for the Groulx rumour, that's a new one to me but I hope its true. I'm actually surprised he's still unsigned. Us, BC and Montreal should be pursuing him at a minimum.
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