BC Lions Canadian Content Analysis Heading into 2015 CFL Draft
by Dan McLaughlin (aka Childress)
BC has undergone a change at the head coaching position, which makes it a bit more difficult to predict how they will manage the ratio. However, the coach will be bound by the talent on the Lions, which is mostly in tact from the 2014 season.
Lions' starting Canadians in 2014:
Free Agents signed with starting potential:
Based on 2014, their distribution of starting Canadians per game was: 2.8 OL, 2.5 WR, 1 S, .67 RB, .44 DT. There will likely be some deviation in what the Lions do in 2015, but a team's available talent cannot be ignored. Next we will do a position by position breakdown:
Receiver: BC has a wealth of Canadian receivers. They have four who started at times last season and a total of seven Canadian receivers which is the league’s highest. They also have signed highly sought after former NFL player Austin Collie who should push for a starting job. I don’t see the Lions needing to add any top receivers to their stable. If they plan to start three, which looks likely, they could potentially add a young receiver later in the draft as a developmental prospect.
Running back: BC has one of the league’s top Canadian running backs in Andrew Harris. Their only other Canadian running back is Pascal Lockard, who as a rookie, only had three carries for the Lions last year. The Lions might want to add some competition to their backfield. Having a Canadian who can backup Harris is a real boost to the team’s ratio.
Fullback: The Lions look set at fullback. Rolly Lumbala is one of the league’s top fullbacks and should play the majority of the snaps at that position. He is backed up by Antwi Akwasi who is a converted defensive lineman and a top special teams player. It would not be out of the question for the Lions to draft a fullback, but it really is not one of their needs.
Offensive line: Last year, their average game started less than three offensive linemen which is an area that definitely needs improvement. I would expect that they will be looking at starting at least three and possibly four out of the gate with Norman at centre, Valli at guard, Player/Fabien fighting it out for the other guard position for three and Steward getting a good opportunity be a starting tackle. Valli, Steward, and Fabien have all had some major injuries recently, so the Lions need to have proper depth in place. It would not be surprising for the Lions to look at adding an offensive lineman early in the draft to add to their depth and to compete with the vets for a starting position.
Defensive line: On the defensive line, the Lions currently only have three Canadians under contract, which is below the CFL average of 4.2. The three include defensive tackles David Menard and Jabar Westerman, and defensive end Steven Doege. Westerman started about half of the season for the Lions last year, while the others were depth/special teams players. The Lions could add another player in the draft to solidify the Lions’ starting defensive tackle spot, or to simply add depth.
Linebacker: With import stars Eliminian and Bighill signed long-term, there isn’t really any room for a Canadian starter on the defense. Still, they have three quality Canadian linebackers. Bo Lokombo was the top ranked player heading into the 2013 draft. Jason Arakgi has been one of the top special teams players in the CFL the last few seasons. Casey Chin was the top ranked linebacker heading into the 2014 draft. With this in mind, choosing a linebacker in the early rounds does not make a lot of sense for the Lions. However, linebackers make very good special teams players, so it is possible that they could add one later in the draft.
Defensive back: BC has moved on from their incumbent starter, J.R. Larose and have signed what looks to be his replacement in CFL veteran Chris Rwabukamba who started for Edmonton last year. For depth, they have 2013 fourth round pick Matt McGarva who has played a total of 8 CFL games. Keynan Parker was drafted in the 6th round in 2012 and is a veteran of 33 CFL games over two seasons. It doesn’t seem as though the Lions have a long term solution for the safety position. Rwabukamba is a journeyman on his third team in five years. The other two seem to be long-shots at becoming starters. If a player with potential to be their long-term safety solution was available, the Lions may be tempted. If not, they could get by with Rwabukamba for a year or two.
Kicker/Punter: The Lions look to be headed into 2015 with 45 year old Paul McCallum. He has done well throughout his career and may have another good season left in him, but I expect the Lions will be paying close attention to the kicking and punting prospects heading into the draft as they will need to be preparing for his departure in the next year or two.
Primary areas of need for the Lions heading into the draft to be offensive and defensive line, as well as kicker.