Sorry for the lack of posting over the last few weeks. Life’s been a bit busy and I squeezed a vacation to Vegas in there as well. The fact that I am currently not showing off a diamond encrusted prophet staff tells you everything you need to know about whether I won big while in Sin City.
The CFL Draft goes down tomorrow and it will bring some much needed change to the CFL offseason. I think we are all tired of talking ratio and rules and such. It will be refreshing to talk about actual football players. Now, granted 90% of the players taken tomorrow, you will know nothing about, but it will be fun to discuss them endlessly and make cases for why the Riders 7th round draft pick was a waste of a pick (spoiler alert, all 7th round picks typically end up being a waste of a pick, getting mad over who we do or don’t take there is ridiculous).
I won’t spend any time on the Global Draft. I still think that there is logic to this initiative, it will just take a multiple year commitment to grow. But honestly, I know precious little about the Canadian players. Do you really think anyone is qualified to discus the merits of a Finnish receiver over a Uzbekistani safety? I will say this… I like our choice of Christopher N-Ezeala last year. The trendy thing to do is roster global kickers (which we do) but I think you should try and find guys who can play special teams. Let them take a few hits and bumps away from our Americans and Canadians if you have to roster one.
Back to the Canadian Draft… Something that I don’t think has happened since I’ve been covering the Riders is set to occur other than 2021 which was a weird year coming off no season (at least until I post this and the Riders render the next sentence incorrect within minutes). The Riders have all their own picks. Between trades and supplemental draft we routinely are short a few of our own picks. This is good because despite a decent showing in 2021, we still have holes to fill.
Picks: 8 picks, first selection is 7th Overall
Potential Pipeline: DL David Oneymata (New Orleans), TE Anthony Auclair (Houston), DL Neville Gallimore (Dallas), TE Bruno Labelle (free agent, was with Arizona Cardinals)
Despite the departure of Lenius (and to a lesser extend Jana), we remain strong at receiver. Schaefer-Baker leads the way (looking to take the next step in year 2) with McInnis and Picton for depth. Technically Harty is there as well but his contribution is on teams only at this point (not that that isn’t important).
I rarely had a positive thing to say about our OL in 2021 but I still believe in that interior. After a year learning the ropes I expect Logan Ferland to be rock solid this coming season. Evan Johnson should bounce back (assuming we have a mildly competent tackle lined up beside him). Clark is not the best centre but he’s been good enough in recent years. Jamal Campbell is a nice addition to the top end Canadian talent. Riley and St John are around for depth.
Defensively we have some impact starters in Edem and Teitz. Still find it weird describing Teitz as an impact starter but here we are. We will hopefully get to see what we have in 2021 2nd overall pick Nelson Lokombo. Godfrey Oneyka is a versatile guy capable of stepping in in multiple positions. I continue to be a founding member of the Charbel Dabire fan club. I also want to see what we have in Cimankinda. Just have a gut feel about him.
Guys like LaFrance, Awachie and Herdman will be unheralded but are important role players. Also no list of Canadian strengths is complete without a mention of Brett F’N Lauther.
When I look at our roster I can clearly see solid Canadian starters. But outside of receiver, we are an injury away from trouble at most of those spots. Based on last season O’Day would be wise to continue to invest in the OL as we all saw how easily a bad one can sewer an otherwise good team. The other side of the trenches also need a boost. Dabire is a guy I hype but he’s not yet a bonafide starter and there is not much other than him.
In theory Oneyka and Lokombo give you the depth needed for Teitz and Edem but more would be nice.
Honestly, other than receiver and kicker, any pick would address an area of need.
It’s somewhat lazy mock drafting to always assume the Riders will take the hometown offensive lineman… but in this case all those mock drafts that have us taking U of S tackle Noah Zerr are onto something. We need all the help we can get at tackle and there is a reasonable chance Zerr falls to 7. If that happens we won’t let him slide any further. We may still be waiting on Mattland Riley to show his stuff but we’ve had pretty good success overall with linemen from Saskie Universities. If its not Zerr than it could be another OL (like Zach Pelehos or Gregory MacKellar) or a DL (if by some miracle Dionte Knight drops).
Second round will most likely be used on defense. A DB like Tyrell Ford, a DL like Nathan Cherry or a LB like Josiah Shackel. We need some more upper end Canadian defensive talent to boost our ranks and depth.
Beyond that the Rider will draft the best player available regardless of position. It would really help to get a late round pick that at least develops into a contributor. Schaefer-Baker (4th rd) and Mitch Picton (5th rd) are the only 4th round or later picks in the last few years that I can recall doing anything.