Monday, April 12, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Defensive Line

We move now to the defensive side of the ball as we continue our preview of the 2021 Riders. I guess I could have written about the Global Draft that’s happening this Thursday (the Riders pick 5th incidentally) but it would have been the world’s shortest preview. Something like this: I know nothing of about the prospects nor who the Riders are targeting.

So I’ll stick to what I actually know.

Projected Starters: AC Leonard, Micah Johnson, Charbel Dabire, Freddie Bishop

In the mix: Chad Geter, Mak Henry

The Rest: Mathieu Breton, Sterling Shippy, Corey Thomas, Demetrius Harris, Jordan Reaves, Markus Jones, Keion Adams, Pete Robertson, Garrett Marino, Trenton Thompson, Tim Williams, Anthony Lanier, Chris Livings

Its been a bit of a roller coaster for the status of our front 4 since our last game in 2019. We lost Micah but he came back. We thought we were keeping Charleston but he left. And we mercifully decided that maybe Zach Evans’ best days are behind him. I do like the pairing of Leonard and Bishop. Leonard has 5 sacks or more in 4 straight seasons and Bishop had an 11 sack season before going to the NFL and 6 last season playing on a not very good Argo DL. But I was still worried about them until we added Micah back. He’s a game changer and should allow those 2 more space to work.  The stats may have been down in 2019 but the tape doesn’t lie, he was an impact player even if it didn’t translate into a ton of sacks. You’ll note that I have Dabire ahead of Mak Henry and I stand by that. Henry is a good rotation guy but is not a fulltime starter. Dabire should me enough is limited reps last season to make me believe he can play. Even if I’m wrong about his potential (I’m sure you’ll agree that’s doubtful) at worst he can be a Canadian who occupies the space beside Micah… and thus seamlessly take over for 2019 Zach Evans.

Chad Geter is a guy who does not get enough love. First and foremost, he is a key special teams player. Go back and look at how bad our coverage was at the start of 2019 and how it seemed to coincidentally improve around the time Geter returned to us from Montreal. But he also had 3 sacks in 6 games as a rotation guy. He needs to be in that D-line rotation. Henry will rotate with Dabire and Reaves will be in the mix primarily on special teams.

But what about the new recruits?

I would love for us to find a stud D-end. You pretty much have to go back to John Chick for the last time we did that. We have had good D-ends over the years but we find them on the free agent market (Jefferson, Hughes, Bishop). Mixture of guys here. Some straight from college (Harris, Livings), some who have bounced around NFL practice rosters (Jones, Adams, Robertson). Biggest name in the mix is Tim Williams, a 3rd Rd NFL pick in 2017 out of Alabama with 20 NFL games under his belt. 

The competition at D-tackle is important. Clearly Micah is the guy but it would be nice to find someone who could step in if he gets hurt or at least spell him off when he is nicked up (like he was for a chunk of 2019). Competition here in includes Thomas (the biggest of the bunch at 312), Lanier (who spent 5 seasons in the NFL), Thompson (who has time in the NFL, XFL and AAF), Marino (who I will just assume is Dan’s brother) and Shippy (who spent 2019 on our practice roster)

Prophet’s Players to Watch: At D- End I like Demetrius Harris undersized guy from a Div 2 college. We are the first pro team to let him show his stuff. At Tackle I like Sterling Shippy. He was on our neg list while he was with the Colts and spent last year learning the game.  Could be a guy who is worth the wait.

Wild Possibility (something that may not be likely to happen but is not outside the realm of possibility): Chad Geter has a breakout year and gets 8-9 sacks. Consider this, he’s just 26 and has been primarily a rotational d-end. He notched 3 sacks a rookie and 3 more in 6 games last year. While Bishop will primarily fill in for Charleston, Geter could see an increase in playing time. 


Pantsonfire said...

Proph - like your work. Not a Rider guy but die hard CFL guy. Way too early for rankings 'til final 45 show up. Every year a bunch of us math nerds rank the teams by position 1-5 in West. 5 pts for 1st, 1 for 5th. Overall score for Offence, Defence, ST's, coaches & tada - finally overall team ranking. Mixed results. Injuries, team is more than sum of parts - who knew. So, for fun, went back wks on your offence & here's my DL comments for West. My take on how Riders line up in division.
BC Pros - good couple of DE's.
Cons - who plays DT? What's the plan here?
Rank - 5
Cal Pros - good DT's, Rose is VG, Orimolade may be real deal.
Cons - 1 DE shy with Law gone. Depth???
Rank - 4
Edm Pros - 4 current starters had 34 sacks, only 1 guy over 27.
Cons - depth mostly untested.
Rank - 2
Sk Pros - very solid veterans starters, Dabire looks ready.
Cons - Sack & pressure leader gone. Only 1 starter under 31.
Rank - 3
Wpg Pros - Jefferson best, by far, DE in league. Jeffcoat underrated. Solid DT's. Starters in prime years.
Cons - Not much to dislike, honestly.
Rank - 1
Very general comment on Riders. Solid group but will be difficult to duplicate results of 2019. They are near the end of a cycle here so important for Geter & Dabire to step up. I agree, like their potential, but this year is critical to show they belong. Overall - positive outlook for 2021.

Anonymous said...

Solid DL but still step down from 2019. Three things:

1. As mentioned in D analysis by our own Derek Taylor & Marshall Ferguson, CFL is all about pressure & able to cover. Our DB's rank up there with the best. DL - where are the 16 sacks that left with Hughes coming from? Bishop should be good for 7. Is Leonard good for 9 again? Unlikely but won't say no.
2. Micah Johnson is a beast but is 33. He had 23 sacks over 2 years in Calgary while being doubled & tripled. So why 4 in Regina? He had Ja'Gared Davis & Hughes there. Is he closer to the 14 sack guy or the 4 sack guy? If you're going to judge him on sacks vs occupying a couple of big men, I suspect we'll be disappointed. I don't see double digit totals but that's okay.
3. Henry is 34 & been a good soldier but never was a sack guy with 5 in 4 years. So not expecting the pressure to come from there.

Absolutely Geter has to push for time - no Jefferson or Hughes in front of him. Same goes for Dabire. He should have been given more playing time instead of Evans. He wasn't good since coming from Ottawa. The DL becomes more important because of the talent lost @ LB with Moncrief & Judge gone.

Anonymous said...

Something that may interest you if you haven't seen it already. Marshall Ferguson, the QB guru, just picked the league's best positional groups on offence (CFL Website). Riders didn't register @ RB or receivers with just a casual mention of Fajardo as a future beyond this season & the OL as a "wildcard" - wondered if the offence will be aided by the men up front? Not getting a lot of love there. But then, Fajardo has this past week lamented a lost opportunity in 2020, remarking on the loss of so many stars. Our own Derek Taylor also mentioned on his podcast that the Riders aren't the team they were in 2019. Personally, i don't think things are that dire. But it does appear some unlikely people have their concerns.

Rider Prophet said...

Pantsonfire - Your ranks seem bang on. I would like to put BC ahead of Calgary but Huf always seems to find a way so I can't count him out.

Anon 1 - Micah can't be judged solely on sacks. in 2019 he missed at least 5 sacks by inches. So the stats won't reflect that disruption. Also I think a full year to heal his body will pay dividends.

Anon 2 - Certainly the Riders are a different team (Roosevelt, Judge, Hughes, Elimimian and Moncrief). Lots of similairty but a New OC, different front 4, and all new LBs. Now, I think they have a strong enough core to overcome those loses and remain in contention for the division lead but there are are guarantees.