We interrupt our look at the best Rider players by number to discuss some actual football! The CFL Draft goes down this Thursday.
I’m admittedly woefully under prepared for this. Usually by now I’ve been doing team draft previews for weeks. But I have a very valid reason for my lack of preparation this year… I have already mentally checked out on the season.
I hate to be a downer on a Monday morning but while its still possible there might be some kind of CFL season, it is highly unlikely. It ain’t happening people. Just because it sucks doesn’t make it any less true. If you want more on my reasons more making this assertion it can wait until another post. The 2020 season may be a pipe dream but the 2020 Draft is very real and dammit we can’t squander the few sporting events we get.
The Riders hold the 7th overall pick in the draft and following that pick you will have time to grab a snack, call your mom, have a nap, clean your house and run to the store for more beer before they pick again. We’ve got no second rounder (traded to Montreal in the deal for Philip Blake and Patrick Lavoie) and no third rounder (used to select OL Jake Bennett in the 2019 supplemental draft). We start back in the 4th where we have 2 picks thanks to trading Collaros to Toronto. So the reality is we get one solid prospect and then a bunch of depth guys that you hope one turns into a regular contributor.
Jeremy O’Day is looking to turn the tide on a no so great trend of the Chris Jones era… that being an inability to retain and develop Canadians. For Jones’ 3 years of drafting we have retained 6.5 out of 23 player selected (the .5 is awarded to Josiah St John, who was drafted, didn’t come, then came for a bit then left and is now back). It’s early but 5 of O’Day’s 6 draft picks remain on the roster.
Let’s look at our current strengths and needs:
Strengths: After using both of last years top picks on receivers we are set their. While McInnis and Lenius had minimal impact in year 1 that’s the usual trend for Canadian receivers. I expect both to take a step forward in year 2. Add in Picton for depth (who may spend a record 73rd season on the practice roster) and guys like Awachie, Lavoie and LaFrance who can sub in. We are set there. Edem and Bouka have us alright at DB. We have all our special teamers. Another strength I would say is we know our starters. Judge is a beast. Edem can can be an impact player. I don’t mind our OL depth. Labatte is old but solid when healthy. Dan Clark is coming of a season where I very rarely cursed his name (quite an accomplishment for him) and Shepley is ready to step in as a fulltime starter and add some youth. I really like Braden Schram for depth and have some hope for Jake Bennett. Evans and Dabire can lock down a DT spot between them (though honestly based on last season, I would even go as far as to rank Dabire ahead of Evans).
Needs: Aside from receiver, depth is needed across the board. Teitz is OK but a big step down from Judge if injuries occur. Last season may have been a one off but if Zach Evans can’t be impactful playing beside a constantly double teamed Micah Johnson, do we really think he will improve without Micah? So another DL prospect would be nice. Also Canadian push rushers are a rarity but given that this franchise has not developed a pass rusher since John Chick it would be nice to find a guy like Kwaku Boateng (for the love of god no one bring up Shomari Williams. Just because that experiment failed, doesn’t mean the next one will). You can honestly never have enough OL depth (especially given that our 2 best OL are a combined 64 years old). One other thing we need is to restock our special teamers. The loss of Alex Gagne is a big one. Reaves being healthy again helps but more is needed.
Strategy: Normally guys that have signed NFL deals drop down the draft board. This year that includes top prospects like OL Carter O’Donnell, WR Rysen John, DB Marc-Antoine Dequoy and DL Michael Hoecht. But as I mentioned odds are slim to nil that there will be a 2020 season and even if there is it won’t start until September (when the first round of NFL cuts start returning) so for the 2020 draft I would completely ignore NFL interest and take the best player available (obviously excluding Chase Claypool and Neville Gallimore who were 2nd and 3rd round NFL picks).
Outlook: With only 1 pick in the first 3 rounds I don’t see us getting cute. By that I mean, I see us targeting someone in the trenches (either OL or DL). Defensively I could see guys like DE Mason Bennett or DT Michael Hoecht being of interest. Offensively if one of the top OL prospects (like Carter O’Donnell, Thomas Jack Kurdyla or Ketel Asse) drop to #7 we could grab one of them. I honestly can’t see LB Jordan Williams lasting until pick 7 but if by some miracle he does I think he is the only prospect that would make us not take a lineman (he’s being compared to Alex Singleton and Cam Judge).
I then see us using our 4-8th round picks to restock the special teams/depth shelves with some LBs and DBs and probably a developmental OL prospect as well.
The good news is that the relative lack of anything else to do in my life means that for the first time since 2017 I will be resurrecting the Rider Prophet Live Draft Day Blogging. You also have nothing else to do so please join me, we can kill time together discussing some actual football.