Hamilton Tiger-Cats Canadian Content Analysis Heading into 2015 CFL Draft
by Dan McLaughlin (aka Childress)
Hamilton was the eastern champs and part of the reason was their strong Canadian content. They have some of the league's best Canadian players in the 2014 East All Star Safety Craig Butler, the 2014 Eastern Division's Outstanding Canadian defensive tackle Ted Laurent, and the CFL's top receiver in 2010 Andy Fantuz. There is no question Hamilton values their Canadian talent and will add to their talented group in the 2015 CFL Draft.
Tiger-Cat's' starting Canadians in 2014:
Players added with starting potential:
Based on 2014, their distribution of starting Canadians per game was: 2.1 WR, 2 OL, 1.9 DB, 1.6 DL, .1 LB. The Tiger-Cats employed their starting Canadians in a very non-traditional way in 2014. Not many teams over the last decade have gone through the season starting only two Canadian offensive linemen. It is difficult to say if this was entirely by design or out of necessity. I expect the Tiger-Cats to move towards a more traditional alignment in 2015. They have selections at 8, 17, 20, 24, 29, 43, 51, 52, 61.
Position by position breakdown:
Position by position breakdown:
Receiver: The Tiger-Cats started two Canadians all season at receiver and may very well intend to do the same in 2015. Andy Fantuz is one of the league's best Canadian receivers and should be counted. Sam Giguere also started for Hamilton, but has moved on to Montreal. He should be replaced by Spencer Watt, a veteran receiver who started most of last season with the Toronto Argonauts. Behind these two Hamilton has 2nd year players Matt Coates (2 career catches) and Giovanni Aprile (0 career catches). Though not a huge need, Hamilton could look at strengthening their receiving depth in this draft.
Running back: The Tiger-Cats look to be having an import running back in 2015. They only have one under contract in Anthony Woodson who could fill the role of a backup, though he has not started. The Ti-Cats could choose to draft another running back late to have on their practice roster as depth, but I do not see this position as a priority need.
Fullback: The Ti-Cats have only one fullback under contract and that is Carl-Olivier Prime. Because of this, they will need to bring in more depth before camp begins and I would expect them to add a fullback in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Offensive line: Hamilton needs to address the Canadian content on their offensive line. They only started two Canadians here, which is very low. Immediately, they should be helped by the return of Peter Dyakowski who started in 2013, but missed the entire 2014 season due to injury. Of the two who did start, Tim O'Neill is turning 36 this season and the Ti-Cats need to plan for his replacement. For depth, they currently have Carson Rockhill, Joel Reinders and Landon Rice. I am sure they would like to add a top prospect through the draft to strengthen their offensive line for 2015 and beyond.
Defensive line: The Ti-Cats have excellent Canadian talent on the defensive line - particularly at defensive tackle. Most of last season saw them start 2014 CFL All Star Ted Laurent and veteran starter Brian Bulcke. By mid-season, 2013 #1 overall pick Lindon Gaydosh returned from the NFL to offer a third starting calibre player. The Ti-Cats also hace good depth with second and third year players Michael Atkinson and Hasan Hazime. Hamilton has also signed three rookies for training camp. Finally, Hamilton's first round pick in 2014, Evan Gill, is still in the pipeline. I cannot imagine a scenario where Hamilton would draft another defensive lineman. On the contrary, it would not be surprising to see them move one of their talented defensive linemen to fill a hole elsewhere on their roster.
Linebacker: The Ti-Cats Canadian linebackers are led by 2012 second round pick Fred Plesius and 2014 first round pick Beau Landry. Plesius started two games last year for Hamilton and could push for a starting job in 2015. Behind these two are veteran special teams ace Marc Beswick, and second year players Chris Johnson and Pawel Kruba. I do not see a huge need here. They have a good number of linebackers and have two with starting potential among the group. It is possible that they could add a linebacker later in the draft to compete with their young players in camp.
Defensive back: The Ti-Cats started two defensive backs for most of the season. Courtney Stephen started at cornerback while Craig Butler started at safety. As depth behind these two, Hamilton has Kyle Miller, Mike Daly, and Neil King. Of these three, only King played defense (started one game). The Ti-Cats are well situated here. If they plan to continue starting two in the secondary, they could choose a DB early in the draft to provide additional depth as the three backups are an undrafted free agent, a fifth rounder and a sixth rounder, which is not the pedigree that typically produces potential starters.
Kicker/Punter: Hamilton went with an import kicker/punter last year and is expected to do so again in 2015. Some teams like to have a second kicker around in case of injury, but it doesn't appear that Hamilton is one of these teams. Because of this, I would be surprised to see them take a kicker or punter in the 2015 draft.
Hamilton is well situated heading into the 2015 draft as they can truly take the best player available. Their biggest need is offensive line, but it is not an urgent need. They could also use a receiver, defensive back or fullback.