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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.