Not sure about you guys but I need a break from all the XFL talk. So let’s get back to talking Rider football. We’ve already previewed the O-line, QBs and RBs. So let’s finish off the offense by looking at the receivers.
Projected Starters: Shaq Evans, Kyran Moore, Jordan Williams-Lambert, Paul McRoberts, Justin McInnis.
In the mix: Carlos Henderson, Jake Harty, Brayden Lenius
The Rest: Rashad Greene, Xavier Ubosi, Randy Satterfield, Sammie Coates, Charone Peake, Demarcus Ayers, Kermit Whitfield, Kian Shaeffer-Baker, Mitch Picton, Max Zimmerman
The good news here is that we retained our top 2. Shaq Evans blossomed into a true #1 receiver/deep threat in 2019 with over 1300 yards and 5 TDs. It’s clear that Fajardo trusts him both on those short slants and on the deep bomb. Kyran Moore also took a huge step forward, coming up just 4 yards short of 1000 and notching 6 TDs. I still think there is another level to this guys’ game. Not saying he’s on par with Brandon Banks yet but the parallel’s are there.
Williams-Lambert will be the number 3 assuming he can regain anything close to the form he had in 2018 when he had 4 TDs and 700 yards. I don’t get the concern over him. He has a full year to prepare for the CFL game (instead of trying for the NFL like 2019). He’s a big bodied guy who will do well in the space created by Moore and Evans.
The 4 spot is wide open at this point and the spot to watch. I would give Paul McRoberts and Carlos Henderson (who actually suited up for one game in 2019) the edge given that they spent a year with the team. But the Riders have brought in a wide range of guys to compete. Big name guys like Sammie Coates. Literally big guys like Ubosi (6’3), Satterfield (6’3) and Peake (6’2). Speedsters like Whitfield. It will be interesting to see who wins out.
At Canadian, the biggest thing to watch is Jake Harty. We signed him in 2018 with much fanfare but his knees apparently did no share the enthusiasm for the move west as he never played a game do to injuries. He’s a guy that can have an impact on special teams and be a reliable receiver when called on… IF he’s healthy. We are still in good shape with McInnis and Lenius if not. I do feel for Mitch Picton who despite what seems like 10 years on the practice roster, seems doomed to once again not get his shot. The one thing that may be different about a Maas offense is that he’s not afraid to use Canadian WRs as just token 1 catch a game guys. Natey Adjei caught 58 passes despite competing for touches with Ellingson, Collins, Daniels and Tevaughn Smith (also a Canadian but on a different tier talent-wise than our Cdns).
Prophet’s Players to Watch: Two guys are on my radar. I normally shy away from big name NFL guys (because they tend to succeed about as often as Bart Andrus). But Sammie Coates is super intriguing to me. Pittsburgh has a pretty good history when it comes to WRs. He wasn't a big name guys there but certainly showed flashes. The other guy I’m watching is Whitfield. He was a prolific returner in college (7th all-time in NCAA history). At 5’8 he did not fit the NFL mould. The CFL has a history of being kind to undersized fast guys who do well in space.
Wild Possibility (something that may not be likely to happen but is not outside the realm of possibility): I think there is a chance that Shaq Evans doesn’t lead the team in receiving yards and could finish as low as third. Its nothing to do with his skill. He’s still a true #1 in my opinion and our best receiver (something that 2018 me wouldn’t have fathomed being possible). But #1’s get game planned for as its no secret that slowing him down is key to slowing down our offense. Spread the ball around to Moore and JWL and Shaq’s numbers could drop.