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.
PICTON is very close to becoming a 5th spot guy or even a starter
Terrific analysis. I have my concerns with the receivers. We have essentially the same group less Roosevelt, Arcenaux & Stafford. The latter 2 wouldn't be here anyway but who's our go-to 2nd down guy.? Derek Taylor rated Roosevelt as best hands in the CFL with a drop rate of 1.5% from 2017-2019. I like Moore, think maybe Williams-Lambert can be that guy that takes a beating down the middle. We are terribly thin @ National. The much injuured Harty has 36 receptions in a 5 year career & is 30. We have less than 150 yards between the other guys so SOMEONE had better step up. Now, the good & not so good about Evans. He was all world at times racking up 685 yards in his 4 biggest games - unstoppable. BUT he had only 649 yds in the other 14 games, an average of 46 yds/game - meh. He had 1 catch for 16 yds in 2 games vs the Stamps, our closest rival.. Evans continued to be the highly inconsistent receiver he was in 2018 when every throw his way was a 50-50 proposition. Will this all change with Maas? Maas, as a OC, has always had veteran starters in Burris, Reilly & Harris. He has always had at least 2 standout receivers & reliable veterans. As it stands I see a guy I really like in Moore, I love Evans but I don't see him in the class of a Burnham, Banks, Walker, Ellingson or Rogers. Evans is OLDERr than Walker who averages 82 yds/game which is 4th all time & catches 1 TD every 2 games. Evans had a good year but has to be better. He's the star who's going to get a lot of targets in a heavily ramped up passing game. McRoberts hasn't forced anyone to play him. Another Terence Nunn? I like the top 2 & there is potential beyond that but, aside from Williams-Lambert, no one I can write in as starter. I have little faith in Picton on the National side & we've had 6'5" receivers come through here before - Hargreaves, Bailey etc who bombed. Myself, I think we are a veteran or 2 short of being a really good receiving group. Too many "potentially" good receivers, not enough stats to say who we are. I agree with Marshall Ferguson's take on the Rider receivers. He wondered how quickly can they find their identity?
On the point above. Roosevelt took up 20% of the Rider targets. Can't see Watson or Arcenaux making the team but were top 6 receiving for us last year. Gone are 355 games experience. Took a look at other teams. Top Import + Top National on each team had a high of 224 games experience (Edm) to low 135 (Ham). Calgary the exception - fresh start pretty much but still have 84 games from 3 Nationals. McRoberts or someone else may be good but same was true for K D Cannon. Where is he now? Maas will have to try building a house with a few good pieces & scraps. The 2 Dickensons have similar problems in this area. Maas' former team, in comparison, has a solid house & only needs to arrange the furniture. Is Maas an architect? Dunno. I understand the youth movement but not every position is the same. Receivers @ 33 have value. Simon, Stegall, Pitts, Flutie, Cahoon all had 1200+ seasons @ 35 or over. Why we let Roosevelt leave & kept Harty is a mystery. Teams usually carry a dozen or so receivers, incl PR. It looks like a lot of baby faces on our team this year. Fingers crossed.
Anon 1 - Would love to see Picton get an actual shot but he's been here for years and other keep getting starts ahead of him. It'll likely take Lenius or McInnis getting hurt before he gets any meaningful reps.
Anon 2 - The reliability of Roosevelt is a loss no doubt. But its time for Moore and Evans to be vets. It will be their 3rd year and they have both taken big strides in each of their first 2 seasons. Will they be able to continue to grow without Roosevelt their to take the pressure off? That's certainly something to watch.
I disagree that we are thin a Cdn. We start one Cdn on offense outside the OL which just means we need one of Lenius, McInnis, LeFrance or Awachie on the field. Picton is there for depth... and possibly Harty. Duane Forde also raved about Kian Schaefer-Baker so maybe he pans out. None of those guys are impact Cdn's but we tend to go more for a token Cdn than an impact one at WR.
Ethan - Roosevelt is an american who can still make decent $. Harty is a Canadian who hasn't played in 2 years how is likely making very little $. It all boils back to money
Here's the way I look at things, RP. If we keep 10-12 receivers again on the roster, here's what we got. Evans, Moore, W-Lambert, ?, ?, ?, ? - likely at least 7 imports, 4 of which are unknowns. Maas' offence depends on spreading the ball around to a lot of players. In 2019, 50 % went to Ellingson, Collins & Daniels, 25% to Smith & Adjei & 15% to Gable & Stafford. The #4 & # 5 guys got a lot of tosses - 1166 yds worth. The top 7 were all over 350 yds. Here only the top 4 were over 350 yds. So who's going to fill in as #'s 4-7 because Maas isn't going to have defences worry about 3 guys & one token National pylon? We don't know. I hate to make comparisons but this is Maas' old team. Imports - Walker, Ellingson, Edwards, R Smith, Elliott, Shaw, Stangby. Nationals - T. Smith, Parker, Ralph, M. Jones, Vandervoort & prospects like Karl, McMaster, Richards, Ross, Ryan. Our young Nationals don't compare to Smith, Jones & Ralph who put up 1300 yds in 2019. Our guys are in the next boat with the prospects above. I hope you're right but I see little depth at receiver past the top 3. As for Roosevelt, receivers were the biggest group in free agency. When you lose 5 of your top 8 reception leaders, 4 of them established veterans, you should be signing 1 or 2 for depth. If the young guys are better, let them sort that out in training camp. O'Day made some bonehead deceisions, the biggest being Judge but that's for another day.
My 2 cents worth.
BC Pros - Burnham best overall in CFL, Rhymes good #2, Lemar & Johnson give them 2 legit Cdn starters.
Cons - import talent thin. Whitehead may help.
Rank - 2
Cal Pros - Jorden, if healthy top end talent. Mayala looks really good. Ambles, Huff, Sindani have shown flashes.
Cons - no Rogers, Begelton, Brescacin. Is Jorden same after devastating injury. Lot of uncertainty.
Edm Pros - 3 1,000 yard receivers. Deep @ import & National. Tevaun Smith looks like rising star.
Cons - They can't keep everyone. Honestly, they're loaded.
Rank - 1
Sk Pros - Evans is a load, Moore very good, Williams-Lambert solid #3. Lots of potential in Nationals.
Cons - Past big 3, lots of names with no #'s. Depth thin until proven otherwise
Rank - 3
Wpg Pros - Adams, Demski, Wolitarsky solid trio.
Cons - Harris leading pass catcher. Do starts lie? Passing game? What passing game?
Brief take on Riders - With Maas, this year you find out what you got. I expect Moore & Evans to flourish. National talent? You drafted them. You have to play them. There's 2 spots available beside the big 3. If they can't compete for those spots with no CFL veterans, what's up? Every other club in the West has 2 Nationals who can line up in the top 5.
Anon - I get the concern on depth and there is certainly risk but every other team seems to be able to recruit WRs who impact early on (Walker, Tasker, Daniels, Jordan) etc... We found Shaq and Moore and Lambert. One more american WR shouldn't be too much to ask.
Pantsonfire - Rankings seem pretty spot on. Mitchell retiring hurt the Bombers... though passing isn't really their thing.
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