Ottawa REDBLACKS Canadian Content Analysis Heading into 2015 CFL Draft
by Dan McLaughlin (aka Childress)
The REDBLACKS did not enjoy a great season in 2015. Fans hoped that they would be competitive, but with only two wins, it is apparent that the CFL failed in the efforts to construct an expansion draft to create a competitive team. With that in mind, the REDBLACKS did acquire several very good Canadian players which should help them as they continue to build their team over the next few years.
REDBLACKS' starting Canadians in 2014:
Players added with starting potential:
Based on 2014, their distribution of starting Canadians per game was: 3.4 OL, 1.8 DL, 1.2 WR, 1.1 DB. The REDBLACKS also have signed some high profile free agents which gives some indication as to how they will handle the ratio. Ottawa needs a successful draft if they are going to improve their fortunes in 2015. They have selections at 1,10, 28, 37, 45, 54.
Position by position breakdown:
Position by position breakdown:
Receiver: Probably the greatest weakness of the REDBLACKS was their receiving talent. As a result, they have added several new players, mostly imports. Returning Canadian receivers include starter Matt Carter and second year player Scott Macdonnell. Brad Sinopoli was a free agent signing from the Calgary Stampeders and he should push for a starting position as well. I would expect Ottawa will look at adding another receiver in the draft because having only three leaves them very thin.
Running back: Ottawa doesn't have any Canadian running backs on their roster. Clearly they are planning for this to be an import position. They could choose to add a Canadian running back in the draft to backup their starting import to give more roster flexibility, but this wouldn't be one of their greater needs.
Fullback: The REDBLACKS landed two excellent fullbacks in the expansion draft in John Delahunt and Patrick Lavoie and because of this, don't have an immediate need at fullback. They may want to add a developmental player for the practice roster who would also act as injury insurance with one of their later picks.
Offensive line: Ottawa played 3.4 Canadians per game last season, and there is no doubt they would like to get that number up to 4.0. Last year they played Jon Gott, J'Michael Dean, and Nolan McMillan for practically the entire season and the trio should continue in 2015. The fourth position could be taken by Matt Albright, who was a part time starter in 2014. Also under contract is Hugo Desmarais, who has yet to appear in his first CFL game, and undrafted free agent Aaron Wheaton. Ottawa clearly could use another starting calibre offensive lineman, and with the top pick in the draft that is deep in Canadian offensive linemen, they should be able to pick a good one. This would give competition with Albright for the fourth starting Canadian, with the other being a roster player as a backup/short yardage player.
Defensive line: Ottawa started two Canadians on their defensive line last year: with defensive tackle Keith Shologan and defensive end Justin Capicciotti. They also have good backups for these two in Zach Evans and Justin Phillips, respectively. They have an six additional Canadian defensive linemen heading to camp for a total of ten. I cannot believe they will add to their Canadian defensive line talent through the draft as they will not be able to keep all the talent they have already assembled.
Linebacker: Ottawa has two Canadian linebackers in James Green and Jordan Verdone. Both have been solely special teams players throughout their careers. Perhaps Ottawa could look at adding another linebacker who could play some situational defense for them down the road.
Defensive back: Ottawa has three Canadian defensive backs under contract: veteran starting safety Eric Fraser, special teamer Hugo Lopez, and starting strong-side linebacker (who is actually a DB) Antoine Pruneau. Fraser wound up getting hurt in 2014, but Pruneau stepped in to become one of the CFL's top rookies. With two starting calibre players, Ottawa would have options as to how they deploy the ratio. They probably only need one of the two to start. I do not expect Ottawa to draft a defensive back - especially early in the draft.
Kicker/Punter: Ottawa's kicking situation is completely up in the air. They have two import kickers and one Canadian that they already have signed to bring to camp. It would not be surprising to see the REDBLACKS bring in another through the draft.
Year 2 for the expansion Ottawa REDBLACKS should go better. It looks like they could start 4 OL, 2 DL, 2 WR, 2 DL, 2 DB - which is far more than required. This gives Ottawa great flexibility to truly play their best players without being tied down by the ratio. I expect they will draft an offensive lineman with their first pick, and may even take one later in the draft. They could very well add a receiver, running back, and a linebacker as well.