Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Riders Sign 2020 Draft Class

The signings continue to roll in for the Riders. It almost seems like a daily thing now. In the back of my mind I keep thinking that this has to stop at some point. I mean, we already have 92 people signed… and given that we have no starting LBs or kickers and the 2021 draft class to go we clearly aren’t done. We are on pace for the Riders to qualify as a village come training camp.

 Now some of these guys will clearly be on the roster. Guys like McCray, Moore, Williams-Lambert and Vaughn are important signings that project as starters. Side note: How awesome is it to have Cofield and Vaughn locked up? When was the last time we had to starting tackles under 29 years old? (Any mention of Charles Thomas will get you smacked). Anyway… but we have signed dozens of what would normally be “training camp fodder”. Guys like the other Flacco and what I can only assume is Dan Marino’s brother Garrett. Sure some of those guys will end up making the team and becoming household names. But given the high probability of a delayed season and shortened training camp, how many of those 92 players never set foot in Canada?

One interesting set of signings was our 2020 draft class (minus 8th round pick Neville Gallimore, who is preparing well for the perennial disappointment of playing for the Riders, in Dallas). Really interesting year for draft picks. First round picks like Mattland Riley will make the team. The hope is that between Riley, Schram and the OL we will take 2nd overall in the 2021 draft (spoiler alert) that one can be the new starting RG and one can be the 6th OL. But for the remaining guys (Schaefer-Baker, Allen, Femi-Cole and Lawson) they unfortunately have the worst timing possible.

Its tough for those late round picks to make the team. One guy may make it as a special teamer. A couple may stick on the PR and wait a chance to step in as an injury replacement. But not only do they have the usual odds against them, they will also be competing against a whole other draft class at the same time. The 2021 picks will also be competing for those very few spots. And then, add in that with a shortened training camp and good odds of no preseason games, the chance to show your stuff will be severely limited. I expect lots of teams to use their 2021 picks to take flyers on guys who they might have to wait a year on (or in later rounds guys who may go back to school).

Overall I like how our roster is shaping up. We have no starting LBs, we need a HB (assuming Gainey doesn’t return), we need kickers, we need Hughes and we need OL depth. Considering we are in January that’s not bad.

Last thing I’ll touch on is Greg Ellingson. Lots of talk linking him here due to the Jason Maas connection. Obviously I would love to have him but with Evans, Moore and Lambert under contract we don’t NEED him. If the price is right do it. If not, don’t. And the price may be right. A few top end WR are trending to free agency: Ellingson, Burnham, Posey and Rogers. Normally that would mean teams would be opening their wallets to attract them. But teams have no wallet this year. So one of the them may get more money by hitting free agency but the others will likely end up with less because teams will spend the few $ they have rather than waiting on them and end up getting a few of them super cheap. So there is a chance that Ellingson comes just cheap enough to fit in our cap. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Random Quasi Coherent Thoughts

Oh how I long of the days when January was a quiet time in the world. We were all on our post-Christmas hangovers (physical, mental and financial) and the sporting world was quiet with the exception of switching between over emphasizing Canadian hockey dominance or calling for a hockey summit based on the results of the most recent World Juniors.

But in today’s topsy turvy world we have a raging pandemic, attempted democratic coups and only 354 days left of this crazy year left to endure.

We also have the weird phenomenon of more CFL signings in the past 2 months than in the past 5 Januarys combined. The good news is that gives us something to talk about to distract from the crumbling of our world as we know it.

The big news was obviously the Fajardo extension. A move that likely simultaneously extended the Fajardons of many Rider fans. This isn’t all that surprising… O’Day wants him, he likes it here and this is about the worst time in the history of the CFL to be looking for alternate employment. But it is reassuring to have QB certainty for the next 2 years. If Fajardo’s agent was smart he would have negotiated a $5 bonus on every Saskatchewan born kid named Cody over the next 2 years.

 We have also slowly been chipping away at our potential free agent list. Shaq Evans was a big signing (particularly given that Kyran Moore is getting some NFL looks and Williams-Lambert remains unsigned). Jake Harty was a pleasant surprise. He was a highly touted signing back in 2018 but injuries led to him never playing a single snap. I (like many) just assumed he was never going to don the green and white again but he is back. If he’s healthy we get an impact Canadian WR who has underrated skills on special teams. With McInnis, Lenius and Picton it would also solidify our Cdn depth there. No guarantees he can still play at his old level but definitely worth the risk. Nick Marshall is back (an important piece in our secondary). Blace Brown is back (I really like his potential as a DB). And we added Freddie Bishop (11 sacks in 2015 with Calgary, 6 last season in Toronto, an NFL stint in between). He’s potentially an impact addition to our DL rotation.


As much progress as O’Day has made on our roster there are still a number of fairly significant holes still left to address. We need another WR to complement Evans. Moore, Williams-Lambert… maybe Ellingson? Shepley is gone and Terran Vaughn remains unsigned so we are still missing half a line. I imagine the guard spot gets filled through a combination of the draft and last year’s draft pick Mattland Riley. We have no starting LBs… like none. Much like our OL we are also missing half a secondary with McCray and Gainey left unsigned. We also have no kickers… but that one doesn’t really concern me much. We’ll fill those easily.


One last comment to leave you with. I know I’m super late to this but the whole Chris Streveler thing bugged me. It didn’t bug me that Boomer Esiason slighted the league of seemed to know nothing about it. There are likely endless American’s who know nothing about the CFL. Just because they cover the NFL doesn’t mean they are obligated to learn about the CFL. It’s more so on the CFL to promote itself better. But I digress… My real issue is that thousands of American’s now think that Chris Streveler the best QB the CFL could produce. He might be one of the worst (and I have personally watched Michael Bishop, Nealon Greene and Brandon Bridge). He just happens to be a very skilled runner who can lob up the occasionally hail mary on the run (and Arizona inexplicably refused to run him).