Realty One

Monday, March 4, 2019

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: EXAMINING THE RIDERS ROSTER


BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF

Welcome to the deep, dark depths of the off-season. The bulk of free agency is over, the combine is three weeks away, the draft is in early May and training camp (hopefully) will kick off at the end of May.

This gives us a little time to take a look at the current state of the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster.

First a few quick facts:

- There are currently 67 players on the roster (as per riderville.com).

- 30 Canadians / 37 Americans.

- Linebackers lead the way with 14 players on the roster.

- We will go with current roster rules because we don't know how things will change with the new CBA.

DEFENSE

Defensive backs:

This is the easiest unit to nail down. Nick Marshall, Ed Gainey, Mike Edem, Loucheiz Purifoy and Crezdon Butler should be the day-one starters. Denzel Radford will back up Edem at safety with Valentino Blake the lone newcomer.

Linebackers:

From the smallest unit to one that has 14 players with an even split between Americans and Canadians.

The middle and strong-side spots will be filled with returning starters Sam Hurl and Derrick Moncrief but the hole left on the weak-side by Sam Eguavoen (currently on the Miami Dolphins roster) is a big one. For now, let’s put free agent signee Dyshawn Davis in the spot. As he is next up with the most CFL experience.

A pair of former NFL’ers - Paul Dawson and Deon King - will fight for spots on the starting roster. Deion Pierre and Louy Compton are fresh out of school while Reggie Hall (listed as a DB but could fit in at strong side as a sixth DB) was in training camp with the Riders in 2018.

As for the Canadians, Cam Judge continued to improve in 2018 and will fight for starting time and if healthy, Micah Teitz will continue to evolve into another strong rotational player.

Canadians will make up the bulk of the Riders special teams.

Defensive Line:

This is a strong and deep group at every position. Any newcomer will have a difficult time cracking this lineup.

The starters should be the ageless wonder Charleston Hughes and A.C. Leonard at ends while the best defensive tackle in the CFL, Micah Johnson, and one of the top Canadian tackles, Zack Evans, fill things out.

Chad Geter played all 18 games last season at defensive end while Lavar Edwards was a late season signee.

At tackle, Curt Maggitt comes back with CFL experience while newcomer B.J. McBryde fills things out.

Makana Henry is slowly developing into a solid rotational Canadian tackle, with 2018 5th round pick Mathieu Brenton and 6th round pick Tresor Mufata returning.

Special teams stalwart Jordan Reaves returns for 2019.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks:

Zach Collaros will return to lead the offence. Having a year under his belt will hopefully help in stretching the offence. Let’s also hope he stays healthy because there are a lot of questions behind him.

Cody Fajardo has been a third-down quarterback during his CFL career both with Toronto and B.C. and the same can be said for David Watford. Though Watford does have some snaps with the Rider offence.

We found it incredibly interesting that Travis Lulay considered an offer from Saskatchewan before retiring last week. 3DownNation.com has that story here:

That article tells us many things, including a further illustration that there is a scarcity of quality QBs currently in the CFL. Does anyone want to take a stab at why that is?

Running Backs:

William Powell will be the bell-cow runner in this offence. The CFL’s second leading rusher in 2018 is a hard runner with a little breakaway speed and can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

Marcus Thigpen will be the change-of-pace threat and Kienan LaFrance returns to the Riders to help out with the ratio in spot duty. The 22-year-old raw rookie Taye Davis is coming straight out of college.

Christion Jones is listed as a receiver but is usually spotted in at running back. He will be the Riders’ primary returner to begin the season.

The unfortunate part of all of this is that Tre Mason will miss most of the year with a knee injury suffered in the last regular season game of 2018.

Canadian Albert Awachie returns at fullback and should start the season on the special teams unit.

RECEIVERS:

After having three 1,000-yard receivers in 2017, the Riders' top receiver in 2018 was Shaq Evans at 785-yards without a touchdown catch. There needs to be a vast improvement from this group that has some familiar names but will start the season banged up.

Manny Arceneaux was signed by the Riders in February and may not start until mid-way through the season because of a knee injury. One of the potential gems of the 2018 free agent season was slotback Jake Harty. He unfortunately blew out his knee in training camp 2018 and has reinjured it during the off-season.

Shaq Evans returns and will be a starter at receiver and burner K.D. Cannon should fill out the other side. When healthy, Naaman Roosevelt can still be one of the top receivers in the CFL from the slot position. Kyran Moore will start at slot with Canadians Patrick Lavoie and Cory Watson rotating at the third inside receiver position.

Newcomers Kyle Davis and Brock McCoin are straight out of college while Douglas McNeil III has spent the past few seasons in the Arena League.

Former Regina Ram Mitch Picton will fight for reps in training camp as the Riders will more than likely draft one or two more receviers.

Offensive Line:

There will be familiar names starting across the offensive line with future hall of famer Brendon LaBatte anchoring the line at left guard. Philip Blake will start at right guard and Dan Clark will return to center.

Dariusz Bladek will fight Blake and Clark for starting time with former 2nd round pick in 2017 (by Hamilton) Braden Schram and the Riders 2017 7th round pick Emmanuel Adusei returning in 2019.

Thad Coleman will be entering his fourth season with the Riders and will take his place at right tackle. Takoby Cofield was a surprise at left tackle in 2018 playing in 11 games but will fight for starting time with Terran Vaughn who started the first seven games of the season before getting injured.

Tackle E.J. Price is straight out of school.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Brett Lauther was a bright spot in 2018 and he will be joined by returning punter Josh Bartel and long-snapper Jorgen Hus.

Tyler Crapigna missed all of last season and will either be in a battle for the starting spot with Lauther or used as trade bait, possible at draft time.

(RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF)

29 comments:

Helix said...

Doesn’t sound very deep at all. Lucky it’s only March.

Anonymous said...

Rider GM got to be crossing his fingers toes Zack doesn't bump his noggin when putting on his helmet during training camp. That would be a catastrophic consequence on the gm for signing a fagile man who should have retired. Sage advice, Nick Marshall the astounding athlete getting a crack at qb the logical smart choice for Coach Dickenson moving forward. A very wise, astute football move to consider, a move Coach Dickenson won't regret.

Hobie Baiker
Parry Park
Hwy 6 S. Saskatchewan.

GardenGnome said...

Areas of concern - receivers. If Arcenaux is out, same cast minus Williams-Lambert, our best receiver in '18. Not sure how the game plan will be to stretch the field with same crew less one star. Expect Riders to pound the ball. That's their identity. LB - Hurl doesn't measure up in the middle. Maybe Judge is ready. Quantity doesn't necessarily = quality. QB - Collaros needs to be a) healthy b) better. If he gets hurt we're in trouble but you can say the same for the 3 clubs west of here. I think you got it right. In other words, Riders '19 are pretty much Riders '18. Don't discount the loss of Jones. Knowing the defence & knowing how & when to employ differnt formations are two different things. You can't teach "feel". Even a very experienced guy like Jones who had a decade of coordinator experience made a lot of mistakes in Edmonton as head coach in year one. It's a big leap. Interesting year shead, Rod.

Football Fan said...

That’s not bad at all. Compare that to the other teams in the west. What does Calgary’s depth chart on D look like? Edmonton and BC have massive changes all over the place, but to focus on one area what’s the Esks OL going to look like? Reilly was running for his life all year last year, and Harris is less mobile and less durable than Reilly. And what’s Wpg’s OL going to look like? They lost two Canadian starters, both western all-stars. And what’s their D going to look like? They lost 3 starters including an all-star Canadian S.

Anonymous said...

Your hosting the grey cup in 20 . Oday best be getting on finding a quarterback buy then. That's the only depth chart analysis you need.

Anonymous said...

Do a pod cast just once a week rod . Youd sell ads crazy. You could do it from anywhere

Tim said...

CJ ignored the offense far too long in his recruiting and play calling. I think its going to take a while to get it back on track. Having said that, the defense and STs look very solid to me. GO RIDERS!

Anonymous said...

Rod do you know the status of J St. John at O Line? Have not seen that was picked up by another team. Newt from YQR

curtis said...

i like the pod cast idea

Anonymous said...

It is March for everyone!

Edmonton and BC have a lot of salary to shed before training camp opens. Even after all their signings Edmonton has a worse roster than last year.

The Riders will be more in the mix than people give them credit for. Remember, it takes more than one player. Mike Reilly missed the playoffs last year while the Riders won 12 games. I don't care how they did it, fact is they did.

And if you are going to breakdown the roster at least be some what accurate. On paper Hurl started all 18 games but by midseason Judge was obviously the primary middle linebacker.

Anonymous said...

Football Fan, your points on the other clubs are well taken. But the Esks OL was #1 in sacks allowed in 2017. In 2018, they lost their starter @ LT in game 1 & he was out all season. O'Donnell, the league all-star @ RG moved over, Beard switched from LG over. They then brought in Bond later. When Sorenson got hurt, Beard went to Ctr, meaning more changes. I chuckled over the Esk gong show but this is what a retired CFL OL alumni had to say. Because of the # of times the Esks throw deep, the OL has to hold blocks longer. Reilly often waits to the very end, releasing the ball as or just before getting hit. Ordinarily you have about 2 seconds before pressure gets to you. Reilly, on the deep passing game needs more like 4. Look at the stats on the cfl website. Edm threw the ball 81 more times than the Riders, Ottawa 116 more times. Calgary & Sask tied for sacks allowed but Calgary threw 67 more passes. Looking just @ sacks allowed to rate an OL is missing the point. The Esk OL is the biggest in the league. Rogers was voted to the East & League All-Star teams. I think we have a good OL but both the Stamps & Eskimos have really good ones, if healthy. We rushed 39% of the time last year. Only Wpg @ 42% rushed more. We will be the same this year. If we go to a deeper psssing game, a la 2017 with Glenn, the sacks go up. Remember we were near the bottom the 2 previous years with Clark, Coleman & LaBatte & they're not getting younger. As far as change goes, who changed more than the Riders the past 3 years? Did they win less? Why does that mean that it should be a problem for other clubs? I'm not as optimistic that this is good news for us.

Bill Salloum said...

I was wondering about Josiah St John too. According to CFL.ca he's still a free agent. Haven't heard anything else.

- Not Rod ;)

Rod Pedersen said...

I will. Just relaxing for awhile.

Anonymous said...

I think all CFL teams are waiting for the AAF to fold and possibly quickly. A plethora of players there, so I would be patient...

Anonymous said...

Cant be good news for a Rider fanbase when the gm is silent. One would expect he would've been more aggressive in his approach to his era of management by putting his footprint all over the on field product when it comes to new recruitment of new player talent while replacing aging veterans who can't keep up down the stretch. Sitting back on others work not a good idea, Riders gm needs to get it going now.

3RD and 1 said...

I for one miss Rod’s participation on the Radio when discussing the Riders. Rod’s tone combined with his direct approach kept many a Yahoos in order. I mean it’s got to be hard when someone calls in and dosent truly know anything about football. Just looking to complain and is going to give his 2 cents after the fact of what should have been.
I always get a kick out of customers in our store that say “what kind of coach makes that kind of decision” when it’s a common practise of CFL head coaches. These Rider fans have never looked at other teams and how they are run.
Im a podcast rookie but would love to sit in on one now and then as a quest. Give my grass roots, Gopher hole, under ground ideas. LOL

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched any AAFL games, but from what I've read the last few weeks doesn't sound like there's anyone worth looking at. These are players who couldn't make the NFL or CFL in past few years with the exception of a couple of guys. And signing Manziel won't make a difference, total waste of money. I read today they are giving away free tickets this week to try and get butts in the seats.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
T. Brown said...

Anyone know what happened to Matt Elam?
Seems to have vanished without an explanation.

Anonymous said...

I think Matt Elam is still on our active roster.
If our only Sask liberal MP grew a pair and found some ethics he’d resign from JT’s cabinet too.

Football Fan said...

@Anon
You raise some points to consider, but I’m a loooong way from anointing their OL as “really good”. As you say, it’s good to look deeper than just the stats, and I don’t think Edmonton’s OL was that great in 2017 either. I think a big reason why their sack stats were low was again because of Reilly. He is very good at avoiding the rush and avoiding sacks by either getting rid of the ball or taking off and running with it. Reilly rushed for almost 600 yards last year. Harris rushed for 117. The year before Reilly rushed for almost 400 yards. Harris rushed for 78. Another red flag for was the signing of Bond and the fact that he played all year. He was terrible with us in pre-season, to the point where we released him. Bomber fans were telling us that he was never the same after coming back from an injury, which is why they let him go. But the Esks picked him up and he started all year for them, and their OL was terrible, and apparently they’re bringing him back this year. We’ll have to see how all these changes pan out, but I’m not optimistic for that Edmonton OL, and I’m still picking the Esks as the favourite to finish last in the west.

As far as the Riders’ OL goes our stats were also skewed by the fact that our OL struggled early because of an injury to Bladek and the retirement and regression of two of our top backups, Zver and Adusei. But when Bladek got healthy our OL improved a lot, and when we added Blake late it got a lot better again, and when JSJ had to step in he played very well as well. Yes, age is starting to be an issue now and if Bladek was 100% coming into the year I wouldn’t even bring Clark back, but he was injured again late in the year and may not be 100% at the start of the season. I think we should re-sign JSJ too, but he’s had lots of injury issues as well so I’m still seeing him as a depth guy until he can prove he can stay healthy. We also have Shepley, Schram and Adusei again in the pipeline. And at tackle both Vaughn and Cofield showed they can play well last year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Coleman doesn’t even make the team this year, but even if he does we’ve got a good young player behind him. So we should be good on the OL.

As far as changes go, the Riders obviously had a lot of changes because we were rebuilding from a horrendous 3-15 team, and it took three years to get from last to second place in the league. The Esks probably should have treated this as a rebuilding year but instead they spent all their money on a bunch of older FAs. Harris and Rogers are 32 and Ellingson, Dean, Orange and Unamba are all 30. It looks to me like Sunderland realized that he had a last place team and he was further going to lose the best QB and the best receiving corps in the league, and he just started chucking money around in a desperate attempt to save his job. But I don’t think it’s going to work.

T. Brown said...

No, Elam’s not listed on the current roster. Nor was he listed on the active roster, practice roster, or injury list for the WSF.

Anonymous said...

anon said, "If our only Sask liberal MP grew a pair and found some ethics he’d resign from JT’s cabinet too."

But he's a career 'yes' man.

Anonymous said...

Football Fan, we can agree to disagree but if you think Rogers is old for OL @ 32, what is LaBatte, also an All Star @ 32 & we have 2 more on OL @ 33, Coleman & 30, Clark. If 30 is old for Elllingson @ receiver, then what about an injured Arcenaux @ 31, or Roosevelt who has yet to play more than 14 games @ 31 or 35 year old Watson. Harris is 32, the fragile Collaros turns 31 in August. DB Orange is old @ 30, but not Butler @ 31? You could check out the 2018 All Stars & find Rogers, Ellingson, Orange, Unamba & Orange all make the teams. Dean, the old codger, somehow was the Eastern rep for Outstanding Defensive Player. Outside of LaBatte, the Riders senior citizens were nowhere to be found. 30 is not old. But if that is your criteria, it doesn't look good on the Riders. The Eskimos added 6 All-Stars in free agency. I think they're improved. Yet you choose to dismiss that based upon what? That they are too old when we have more older players at almost all the positions you bring up? Sorry, that doesn't fly. I won't go back into arguing the other points except to say this. The more times you drop back to pass, the more chance for sacks. If you run the ball, you can't get sacked. And if you have a lot of passes to the RB's behind or just over the line of scrimmage you don't give up sacks either. The Rider offence in a nutshell. Sad but true.

GardenGnome said...

I'll chime in for Sunderland on this one. Reilly was going to BC regardless & he had no shot, which makes it no different than O'Day with Bo. Williams was going to the NFL as was Mitchell which is no different than Eguavoen or Williams-Lambert. I don't hold that against Sunderland any more than O'Day. One of the complaints with Rider fans & media was the "old" free agents we signed. Powell, Arcenaux & Watson are all over 30 & hopefully not washed up. We have our fair share of the over 30 crowd so let's not point fingers at other clubs. I don't think anyone would have complained if we landed Reilly because he's too old. I guess we better put Charleston out to pasture before this season starts.

Football Fan said...

@ Anon
You misread my post. Go back and re-read it. I didn't say those players were old. I said they were older. Edmonton probably should be in rebuilding mode right now, which means they should be concentrating on developing young players, like we did a few years ago. But instead they signed a bunch of 30+ FAs who are going to be on the downside in a few years. They may not be as bad this year but they're only pushing back the inevitable. We are in a totally different stage of development, of course. We were the second place team in the league last year, and we are in win now mode. We should have a bunch of veterans who can take us that last step with their play and leadership. That said, we should also be looking to replace Clark this year, and we should be developing players behind Hughes and Coleman, which we already are, etc.. It's never all one or the other, but what Edmonton is doing is more like spending all their resources trying to patch up an old sinking boat rather than letting it go and putting their resources towards building a new one.

Anonymous said...

How is Edmonton to rebuild & you're not? Orange is 30, all other DB's under 30. Butler is 31, all others under 30. Sewell is 32, all others under 30 on DL. You have Hughes 35, Henry 32, Johnson 30 on DL. The LB's are Dean & Unamba 30, Santos-Knox 24 & have young Nationals Konar & Mulumba. There are 2 receivers who are 30 on Esk roster & experienced under 30's as backups. Riders have Roosevelt 31, Arcenaux 31 as top guys & Watson 35. These are all starters listed by Pederson. Powell is 31, so is Gable. I guess one is washed up but the other isn't. Guess what. One of the rising stars menitoned by CFL.ca was RB Shaquiile Cooper, 25. Who is next in line in Regina - oh yeah Thigpen, 32. (There were 4 Riders mentioned by the way out of 20 rising stars. You may want to look that up)"They are not as bad as last year but pushing back the inevitable". As the Riders are older almost everywhere are they not AT THE INEVITABLE because they are a year or 3 or 5 in some cases further along the trail of the inevitable. But you like to call the Riders "veterans" & the Eskimos "near the end of the line", even if they are younger. Football Fan, in my world 30 is not yet old. If it is in your world, take a REAL good look at the rosters sometime & compare them for age. I like the idea of sprinklling veterans around in the 30-32 age group for leadership but when you start hanging on to them at 35, unless they're a QB, THEN you're on borrowed time, especially if they're starters. That looks a whole lot more like the Riders than the Eskimos. Take the blinders off. By the way, I don't mind the way the Riders are set up. But since 30 seems to be the magic number, here's two for you. Players 31 or older, Riders 12, Eskimos 7 If you want to talk rebuild, start with your team.

Football Fan said...

Dude, I didn't read past the first few lines because I don't even know what you're talking about anymore. You seem to have forgotten that Edmonton was LAST in the west last year and missed the playoffs, while the Riders finished second in the league. FURTHER, the Esks lost most of their top players this off season: Reilly, Williams, Walker, Sherritt. This is why they should have gone into rebuilding mode instead of trying to plug a few holes cling to mediocrity by bringing in a bunch of 30 year old FAs.

Anonymous said...

What did the politician say? Math is difficult. FF a simple look at the 2 rosters will yield an inconvenient truth to you. It's not the Eskimos who need to get younge. The Riders are still recycling 35 year olds I see. Lulay recently mentioned that he would have signed with the Riders had he not decided to retire. How old is Travis, anyway? Oh yeah - 35. Arcenaux, by your own media accounts, may not be ready till August, no one including your own coaches knows if Collaros will last, thus the one year deal, & you're chasing another 35 year old who, unfortunately, has a history of devastating injuries. Maybe stop stressing about other team's players. That's enough of this-I get it. You like your 35 year old veterans more than another team's 30 year old All-Stars, because they should be replaced with younger players but the older Riders not. I guess you call that logic. I am happy you're happy. Believe me, I am REALLY happy you're happy. Cheers.