Monday, April 22, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: CFL Draft Preview

The CFL Daft goes down next week. That includes both the Canadian Draft (aka what we actually mean when we talk about “the draft”) and the Global Draft. I am a supporter of the global initiative and yes, last year’s global draft did net us one hell of a punter (Korsak) but let’s be honest, the care factor for the Global Draft is on par with that of how much you care about the one-man Broadway show I am writing about myself.  

For the second year in a row the Riders will select 3rd because once again they were only out-sucked by Edmonton and Ottawa.

Picks: 8 picks, first selection is 3rd Overall

Potential Pipeline: DL David Oneymata (Atlanta/Never coming to the CFL), DL Neville Gallimore (Miami), OL Sidy Sow (New England), DL Tavius Robinson (Baltimore)

Current Strengths:

Biggest Canadian strength is at receiver. A healthy Schefer-Baker. Emilus fresh off a breakout season. Add in Lenius (who hopefully has all his crap luck with freak injuries behind him) and Picton and that is a damn impressive group. I also think that Bertrand-Hudon could be a valuable contributor with a slightly bigger role in the run game (man I’m slowly turning into this generation’s equivalent of the old Szarka radicals I used to mock).

On the defensive side of the ball we have some legit starters in Dalke and newly signed Auclair. Korte-Moore’s stock as an impact player is rising. I think AJ Allen is another guy whose stock is rising. Add in depth players like Dabire, the Herdmans, the Oneykas and the (solitary) Lokombo and Ford.

On special teams Hus and Lauther are among the best in the league at their respective spots. It’s a luxury you take for granted when you almost don’t notice your snapper.

Seems weird to talk about our utter embarrassment of an OL in the strength section but hear me out. Godber was a solid addition last year. Ferland is good. Adding Sceviour is huge. Blake still has game. Fry and Zerr are there for depth. The pieces are slowing coming into place to maybe, finally, not suck. Losing Bandy is not a loss. Look, I know he was 24 and had lots of room to continue developing but O’Day has always been high on him and I never saw anything more than an emergency fill-in in him. One of the biggest moves we made was mercifully finally cutting ties with Evan Johnson. Addition by subtraction.

Current Needs:

Our O-line has been an utter embarrassment for 2 years. Any chance we have of crawling out of the CFL basement and back into relevance and respectability lies with being able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Sceviour was a nice add but if we think one solitary player is going to suddenly make that line awesome, good luck. (In saying that I know that Hardrick at one tackle will help a lot but I’m focusing on Canadians for now). We need to keep building until that line is rock solid and stacked with depth... neither is true at this point. 

Defensively we are thin on depth. Particularly at DL and to a lesser extent LB. We have a couple top end names but if they go down (and let’s face it, injuries will happen) things get dicey pretty quick at every position except safety (where we have Dalke, Ford, Lokombo, etc…). Assuming we plan to start Auclair, ask yourself you backs him up?


Every year I say O’day should draft and OL and every year he doesn’t. This year will be no different, for 2 reasons. One we added Sceviour and Zerr in the offseason and arguably have our best depth at OL since 2019 (obviously the bar for that is very low but still). Two, reportedly it’s a deeper draft for OL. So in theory there will be a good OL waiting in the second round… or third. We SHOULD draft an OL at #3, but we won’t.

In 5 years as GM, O’Day has used a first round pick on an OL exactly once (Mattland Riley, retired after dressing in 1 game) and a 2nd round pick also once (Zach Fry, dressed in only 4 games since being drafted 2 years ago). Two top 18 picks in 5 years used on OL... What a weird coincidence that our OL has been so terrible.

So we will once again not be draft an OL in the first round. I expect that for the second year in a row we will focus on the defence in round 1. Either DL Daniel Okpoko or LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku would be a fit.

In the second round I think we look to add an OL… maybe replace the word “think” with “pray with all my being.

The good news is that outside of his almost religious opposition to draft the position that he made a living doing, O’Day is a pretty good drafter. Particularly in the late rounds. He has found the following lare round gems:

-        2019 – Charbel Dabire (5th round)

-        2020 – Kian Schaefer-Baker (4th Round)

-        2022 – Jayden Dalke (6th round)

-        2023 – Thomas Bertrand-Hudon (4th round)

I expect O’Day to land another good one late.


Anonymous said...

Good comments & I say we have to go OL again. Evan Johnson, like Zack Evans before him, came to the Riders off great seasons in Ottawa & never played well for us. Sceviour is coming here after not being great last year & Zerr has been dumped by the team that drafted him 12th 2 years ago. We need to get a couple of good prospects there in a loaded draft this year.

I have to disagree with pour WR's - not that we don't have some good ones but, outside of Bane, we have tons of questions @ import WR which has prompted speculation that the Riders will field 3 CDN starters. That leaves us thin There are a couple of good ones available this year but they won't last long.

IMO Riders go LB, maybe REC again in round one. And hope to pick up a couple of OL late. The problem with that is IMO they should draft one in the 1st round who is CFL ready now.

Rider Prophet said...

I can't see us starting 3 Cdn WRs unless we are forced to by injury. We have Bane and Sterns and if we can't find a #5 american WR then we should give up scouting. Plus offensively you can sub in Bertand-Hudon, LaBelle or an extra OL at TE if we need to have an extra Cdn.

I can totally see O'Day taking a WR but that's not what I would do.

You want a top end O-line then you need to draft top end OL prospects. We have been waiting until the 2nd/3rd round to address the OL and look where that is got us. Odds are good we can take the best OL prospect at #3... seems crazy to me not to take advantage of that.