Archive for April, 2010

CFL Mock Draft 3.0

Time for the final update before this weekend’s CFL Draft. With several top end prospects signing NFL contracts, and others attending rookie mini-camps, the positioning of prospects seems to be continuously changing in the hours leading up to Sunday morning. Is a team in need of immediate help? Or can they be patient for a year or two and either wait for players to return from the NFL or finish their college careers in the NCAA? See below for what should happen. Don’t forget to come back next week for my evaluations of all the draft classes and in-depth looks at each of the Eskimos selections.

Round 1

1. Toronto. Joe Eppele, Washington State, OT

John Bender is an incredible talent, but comes with some risk. He has one more year of eligibility with Nevada and it’s been suggested that he could be selected in next year’s NFL draft. Eppele does not have the same upside as Bender, but he will be available for a roster spot this season. The Argos need to get help along the offensive line and can’t risk making a pick that they may not see on their roster for potentially two or three years. There is also the chance that Bender never plays in the CFL. Eppele is 6’8″ with the long arms and athleticism that is required for a successful tackle to keep his quarterback safe. He should be the selection the Argos make.

2. Saskatchewan. Shomari Williams, Queen’s, LB

Saskatchewan could use a play maker and Williams fits the bill. After the CFL combine, Williams graded out as the top prospect available.  Teams usually have to be leery of players who rise quickly on draft boards after the season, but the Rider nation should have nothing to worry about with Williams. They have a tremendous offensive line already, so adding depth can be done later in the draft. Williams will be transitioning from defensive end so there will be a bit of learning curve, but he showed well at the combine working in coverage situations. 

3. BC. Brian Bulcke, Stanford, DL

The Lions, under the watch of Wally Buono, have always had a strong defensive line with non-imports filling important roles.  Look for the Lions to add to their stable with the 6’4″, 280 lbs Bulcke. He won’t be available until 2011 while he completes his schooling, but the Lions can afford to be patient. If Buono decides that he wants someone on his roster immediately, he might decide to go with Eddie Steele. Buckle is the better prospect however, and Buono is secure enough in his position that he will look long term.

4. Saskatchewan. John Bender, Nevada, OG

This pick could also be Danny Watkins, and after taking a defensive player with their first pick in round one, the Riders select Bender to add depth to their offensive line. Saskatchewan has a strong offensive line, so taking Bender is a risk they can afford.

5. Calgary. Danny Watkins, Baylor, OT

The retirement of longtime lineman Rich Pilon means that Calgary needs to find a long-term replacement in this year’s draft. Watkins fills the need and is also the best available player on the board. He still has another year at Baylor and is currently projected as a seventh round/free agent prospect for next year’s NFL Draft, so the odds are that he will be added to the Stampeders roster sometime in the fall of 2011.

6. Winnipeg. Cory Greenwood, Concordia, LB

Greenwood hasn’t signed with an NFL team yet, so its doubtful that he will. Winnipeg recently released Siddeeq Shabazz, which is curious because linebacker is not a position of strength for the Blue Bombers. Greenwood is the perfect replacement. He is an intense player that will help Winnipeg in their second line of defence and has been ranked as the top linebacker at various times throughout the year.

7. Montreal. Steven Turner, Bishop’s, WR

The diminutive combine standout is a playmaker and the Alouettes need to add depth to their Canadian receiving depth. The Alouettes have a knack for getting difference makers on their roster and will add the fastest player in the draft.

Round 2

8. Toronto. Eddie Steele, Manitoba, DT

I’ve had J’Michael Deane mocked in this position in my previous drafts, but there is a chance that Eddie Steele might not be there at #11. I think he will be, but Toronto can’t take any chances.  In order to bounce back from the horrendous season that they had last year, they need to make every decision count.  Adding Eddie Steele to their lineup will help upgrade their defence.

9. Edmonton. Taureen Allen, Wilfred Laurier, DB

With the news that Adam Braidwood looks to have finally recovered from two seasons of injury, I believe that Taureen Allen is a pick that makes sense here. The Eskimos struggled in their secondary last year and finding some more depth by adding a non-import defensive back is the way to go. Allen is a shutdown corner with first round talent. A steal for the Green & Gold.

10. BC. Joash Gesse, Montreal, LB

The Lions replace the departed Javier Glatt with another non-import linebacker in Gesse. A little undersized at 5’11″, 221 lbs, Geese is a playmaker that relies on his quickness and game smarts. The type of player Wally Buono loves to have on his roster. 

11. Toronto. J’Michael Deane, Michigan State, OL

A rebuilding team needs to add talent to their lines. After picking up two players that can join them this year, now is the time to invest in a player that can join them in the future. J’Michael Deane has great feet and is still very raw, but he has talent. Toronto continues to rebuild their lines.

12. Hamilton. Jordan Sisco, Regina, WR

I was tempted to put either John Reindeers or Christian Matte in this position, but adding Jordan Sisco fills a need immediately for Hamilton. Sisco should be perfectly suited to manning the slot position and with the addition of import Maurice Mann from Edmonton, gives the Tiger-Cats quarterback more high quality targets.

13. Calgary. Rob Maver, Guelph, K/P

The departure of Sandro DeAngelis to Hamilton leaves a hole that needs to be filled. Maver fills the need and has first round talent so the Stamps get good value with their second selection. If Calgary gets nervous however, they might take Maver with their first round pick, but no one else really needs a kicker like Calgary, so he should slip to them here in the second round.

14. Montreal. Kristian Matte, Concordia, OL

After adding a playmaker in the first round, Montreal will look to replenish their offensive line by taking local talent Kristian Matte. Matte is good in pass protection which suits the Als game plan to a tee. He has signed a contract with the Houston Texans, but the Alouettes don’t need him in camp this year so can afford the risk of waiting.

15. Montreal. Bruno Lapoint, Buffalo, DE

Montreal adds an athletic defensive end in Bruno Lapointe. Although they already have a strong pass rush, adding talented Canadian depth at the position is an astute move to the future of arguably the most dominant team in the CFL.

Roster Review: Linebacker

Don’t you wish we could add Terry Tate to the Eskimos, although it is a little crowded back there at the moment. As we continue to look at the roster of the Green & Gold, we now shift our focus to the linebacker position. This is a spot in the lineup where depth is certainly not an issue. There are imports and non-imports, veterans and youth. Despite the depth, the general consensus is that this group of players has more to offer then the results they gave last year. Although individually certain players enjoyed some success, it will take a much better group effort this year to elevate the Eskimos to being an elite defence in the CFL. Considering the talent level, an increase in production is really not asking that much.

What the coaches might be looking for.

Like most of the other positions where the Eskimos have veteran depth, linebacker is a position where a second season with Richie Hall’s defensive systems in place should greatly benefit all of the personnel. Added to that, key additions from last year will now also come into camp with a better understanding of the CFL game. These factors should be enough to make this unit better almost by default. When you build continuity and familiarity, success often follows close behind.

Current Roster.

Maurice Lloyd. Lloyd is the centerpiece of the linebacker corp and his presence is both greatly felt when he is in the lineup, but equally missed when he is not. Although his numbers were not spectacular (55 tackles, 4 sacks), Lloyd was noticed on the field and was named a CFLPA All-Star. His familiarity with the Richie Hall style of defence certainly helped last year and it is expected that he will lead the linebackers to an even better season in 2010.

Mark Restelli. A true rookie last year out of Cal Poly, Restelli had a very good year for a first year player. He recorded 58 tackles, had one forced fumble, and even contributed on special teams. There were times however where the young linebacker found himself lost in the great space of the CFL field and was caught watching a play. This would have worked on the smaller fields in the United States, but in the CFL, if you are not moving, you’re already too late. With a year of seasoning under his belt, Restelli will need to take the next step in becoming an impact player on the Eskimos defence.

Rod Davis. Number 40 started the season as a situational pass rusher on second down. Injuries eventually led to him starting a few games and he proved to be excellent in coverage, and although he did not record a sack, there were plenty of plays where he forced the opposing quarterback to hurry a play. A veteran of three NFL seasons and one in the AFL, Davis needs to be counted on as reliable veteran depth if he wants to stay on the roster this year.

Reggie Hunt. The diminutive linebacker is best known in the CFL for his work with the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 2002 to 2007. After a very average season in Montreal, Hunt was brought to the Eskimos lineup last September where he played exclusively on special teams. With the amount of import depth on the roster, Hunt will be in a real fight to make the team this year coming out of camp.

Franz Joseph. After a brief appearance at the Oakland Raiders training camp last summer, Joseph was added to the Eskimos practice roster in September. Joseph is a good-sized linebacker who will need to impress early to stick on the roster, but the Eskimos certainly saw some potential in the former Florida Atlantic Owl. 

Javier Glatt. Glatt is the veteran non-import who was signed in the off-season from the BC Lions after Glatt lost his starting position to JoJuan Howard. He’s a playmaker that has battled consistency issues throughout his career.  To read more about Glatt, check out the article I wrote when he joined the Esks. https://eskimosnation.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/eskimos-sign-mlb-javier-glatt/

Tim St.Pierre. 2009 saw St.Pierre continue to progress as a capable backup and special teams player. Entering his third season with the Green & Gold, he has proven to be a reliable player, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in this season. If he wants to stick long term and eventually have a shot at starting, he will need to continue to show improvement.

Greg Whelan. Whelan is essentially a practice roster non-import. He did dress for five games last year when injuries decimated the Eskimos linebackers. He will be in tough to make the roster this year.

Josh Bean. After two training camps with the BC Lions without finding a way to crack the roster, Bean signed with the Eskimos last October. He will once again be in a battle to make the team. It’s expected that there will only be room for one of either him or Whelan with the Eskimos this season and more than likely, it will be on the practice roster.

Changes???

Not everyone will make the opening day roster.  That’s a certainty. Maurice Lloyd and Javier Glatt are probably the only surefire picks for spots on the team. After that, it will probably depend on a number of factors. Mark Restelli and Rod Davis should also be safe as should Brian St. Pierre. With all the linebackers on the current roster, it would be surprising to see the Green & Gold draft a player at the linebacker position in the upcoming CFL Draft. The only way it happens is if a top end prospect falls to them and they can’t pass him up.

CFL Mock Draft 2.0

  

The signing of a few top end prospects to NFL contracts will certainly influence the selection process of the first two rounds of the upcoming CFL draft. John Reindeers and Christian Matte both signed with NFL teams (Cleveland and Houston respectively), while Cory Greenwood was rumoured to be in discussion with at least one NFL team. The tricky part if that if a team was not drafting for immediate impact and thought that a player could eventually return to the CFL, players could be taken at tremendous value.

Round 1

1. Toronto. John Bender, Nevada, OG

Nothing changes here. Bender is a huge guard that could potentially be a non-import anchor to a rebuilding offensive line. Although Shomari Williams currently tops the list of draft prospects, linebacker is more of a luxury pick while  an offensive lineman fills a greater need. The Argos will pick the better positional value.

2. Saskatchewan. Shomari Williams, Queen’s, LB

Saskatchewan could use a play maker and Williams fits the bill. After the CFL combine, Williams graded out as the top prospect available.  Teams usually have to be leery of players who rise quickly on draft boards after the season, but the Rider nation should have nothing to worry about with Williams. They have a tremendous offensive line already, so adding depth can be done later in the draft.

3. BC. Brian Bulcke, Stanford, DL

The Lions, under the watch of Wally Buono, have always had a strong defensive line with non-imports filling important roles.  Look for the Lions to add to their stable with the 6’4″, 280 lbs Bulcke.

4. Saskatchewan. Joe Eppele, Washington State, OT

This pick could also be Danny Watkins, and after taking a defensive player with their first pick in round one, the Riders select Eppele to add depth to their offensive line. Eppele is 6’8″ will the long arms and athleticism that is required for a successful tackle to keep his quarterback safe.

5. Calgary. Danny Watkins, Baylor, OT

The retirement of longtime lineman Rich Pilon means that Calgary needs to find a replacement in this year’s draft. Watkins fills the need and is also the best available player on the board.

6. Winnipeg. Cory Greenwood, Concordia, LB

Greenwood hasn’t signed with an NFL team yet, so its doubtful that he will. Winnipeg recently released Siddeeq Shabazz, which is curious because linebacker is not a position of strength for the Blue Bombers. Greenwood is an intense player that will help Winnipeg in their second line of defence.

7. Montreal. Steven Turner, Bishop’s, WR

The diminutive combine standout is a playmaker and the Alouettes need to add depth to their Canadian receiving depth. The Alouettes have a knack for getting difference makers on their roster and will add the fastest player in the draft.

Round 2

8. Toronto. J’Michael Deane, Michigan State, OL

Toronto needs immediate help and can’t play the waiting game with a player signed to an NFL contract. Some people would argue against doubling dipping on the offensive line, but if the Argos are serious about rebuilding their team, taking a prospect like J’Michael Deane who has experience on both sides of the line is a must.

9. Edmonton. Taureen Allen, Wilfred Laurier, DB

With the news that Adam Braidwood looks to have finally recovered from two seasons of injury, I believe that Taureen Allen is a pick that makes sense here. The Eskimos struggled in their secondary last year and finding some more depth by adding a non-import defensive back is the way to go. Allen is a shutdown corner with first round talent. A steal for the Green & Gold.

10. BC. Joash Gesse, Montreal, LB

The Lions replace the departed Javier Glatt with another non-import linebacker in Gesse. A little undersized at 5’11″, 221 lbs, Geese is a playmaker that relies on his quickness and game smarts. The type of player Wally Buono loves to have on his roster. 

11. Toronto. Eddie Steele, Manitoba, DT

A rebuilding team needs to add talent to their lines. After going with the offensive linemen with their first two picks, the Argos turn to the defensive line with their second pick of the second round. There is a chance that they will pick Steele with their first pick of the second round if they believe Deane will fall to them here.

12. Hamilton. Jordan Sisco, Regina, WR

I was tempted to put either John Reindeers or Christian Matte in this position, but adding Jordan Sisco fills a need immediately for Hamilton. Sisco should be perfectly suited to manning the slot position and with the addition of import Maurice Mann from Edmonton, gives the Tiger-Cats quarterback more high quality targets.

13. Calgary. Rob Maver, Guelph, K/P

The departure of Sandro DeAngelis to Hamilton leaves a hole that needs to be filled. Mayer fills the need and has first round talent so the Stamps get good value with their second selection.

14. Montreal. Kristian Matte, Concordia, OL

After adding a playmaker in the first round, Montreal will look to replenish their offensive line by taking local talent Kristian Matte. Matte is good in pass protection which suits the Als game plan to a tee. He has signed a contract with the Houston Texans, but the Alouettes don’t need him in camp this year so can afford the risk of waiting.

15. Montreal. Bruno Lapoint, Buffalo, DE

Montreal adds an athletic defensive end in Bruno Lapointe. Although they already have a strong pass rush, adding talented Canadian depth at the position is an astute move to the future of arguably the most dominant team in the CFL.

Return of Garcia?

Could Jeff Garcia be considering a comeback to the CFL?

He’s forty years old and only made it into one game last year with the Philadelphia Eagles where his stat line read zero pass attempts and three rushes for minus two yards. Not exactly an all-star season by any stretch of the imagine, and one has to wonder if he will get another shot south of the border. It’s not out of the question that some team might find a use for Garcia, but chances are that any team seriously looking for a veteran backup will look elsewhere.

Garcia is known both in Canada and the United States for being extremely competitive. The guy loves to play football and that’s why a return to the CFL is not only possible, but could realistically happen. To date their has been no indication that he will from any verifiable source, so this article is more my own speculation then anything I’ve found showing that Garcia is actually considering a move back to the three down game.

If he did come back, where might be a suitable landing place? A return to Calgary is unlikely with Henry Burris manning the controls. The Eskimos and Alouettes are also out the question. At the next level down from the teams with elite signal callers, Saskatchewan seems to be set with Darian Durant while the BC Lions look like they will go with Casey Printers and Jarious Jackson. That leaves Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Toronto.

All three teams could use an elite signal caller of Garcia’s caliber. Hamilton could see Garcia as the edge they need to make the push to get to the next level; however Marcel Bellefeuille and company have also been patient in developing a solid corp of players that will commit to their program. This could actually make sense for them as the only real risk would be ticking off Kevin Glenn, who quite frankly although he has been a good quarterback in the CFL, he still hasn’t made the turn to being an all-star that can push his team to win the big games.

Winnipeg and Toronto are the weak sisters of the league at the moment with Toronto being in an especially precarious position. They were flat out terrible last year and I can’t see Garcia making a return to help a last place team. Winnipeg needs to add more pieces before they will be a contender.  Although not as far off as Toronto, the Blue Bombers still have a way to go. If Garcia returns to the CFL, he will want to start, and he will want to win. He probably can’t accomplish both in either city.

So where could he potentially wind up? Hamilton is my guess, but there are other cities where he could land. As long as he doesn’t lead one of those fourth quarter drives that knock the Eskimos out of a playoff spot, I think it would be great to see him back in the league.

Roster Review: Defensive Ends

Last year was a tough one for the sack attack of the Green & Gold.  They just couldn’t get to the opposing quarterback consistently. Now part of the problem could be blamed on the lack of pressure from the interior line, but when an opposing team is facing 2nd and long, a defensive end usually knows that they can pin their ears back and attack the pocket without fear of letting a running back scamper past. The Eskimos certainly have talent on the outside of the line, it will be interesting to see if they can bring their level up a notch this season.

What the coaches might be looking for.

Familiarity. Kai Ellis and Greg Peach were both first year Eskimos last year and in the case of Peach, it was his first year in the league. So far this offseason the Green & Gold have also signed one new import and they also have one other second year Canadian. So really, when you look back on the 2009 season, the pass rush from the outside line really wasn’t that bad. Avoiding any type of sophomore slump would be fantastic.

Current Roster.

Kai Ellis. Ellis is entering his eighth CFL season and his seventh was his best to date. Sounds pretty good. Ellis had six sacks last year which is nothing spectacular; but if he comes to camp with confidence, familiar with the defensive scheme, and ready to motor, expect as new career high in 2010. Despite not having spectacular numbers, Ellis was the Eskimos defensive nominee for Most Outstanding Player and he showed great durability, so all signs point to a great season ahead.

Greg Peach. A 6’3″, 255 lbs. non stop motor. Peach had a fantastic first season in the CFL, matching Ellis with six sacks to his credit as well. He will face a little competition for minutes (as will Ellis for that matter) from the newly signed Kenneth Pettway, bit should be a starter due to prior experience in the defence. 

Kenneth Pettway. The defensive end has spent the past 5 seasons moving around the NFL where he was typically cast as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. In the CFL, that translates to defensive end and it will be interesting to see how Pettway makes the adjustment to being a down lineman once again. If he shows early the burst needed to beat lineman and get pressure on the quarterback, he could make a play for a starting position. Regardless, he provided some valuable depth to a position where the Eskimos were very healthy in 2009, however tempting fate in professional football when it comes to injuries is never a good idea.

Justin Cooper. The Eskimos 3rd round draft choice in 2008 has been mostly used on special teams during his first two seasons. He provides depth at the moment, which is always good, but it would be great to see Cooper take his game to the next level and challenge for a little more playing time. Then again, having a good special teams player is always important and usually overlooked.

Changes???

Don’t expect a lot. Peach and Ellis should be the starters at the beginning of the season, which bodes well for a team now entering its second season with head coach Ritchie Hall’s new defence. Pettway and Cooper fill out the roster for now, however it wouldn’t be surprising to see another addition or two prior to camp at defensive end. If there is no change that would be welcomed, it would be and increase in production, specifically in the sack department.

CFL Mock Draft 1.0

The CFL Draft is less than a week away and it’s high time we here at Eskimos Nation did a little prognosticating and determined who would be a best fit for which CFL team. The Green & Gold have only one pick in the first two rounds, sitting in the nine hole, so a good prospect should still be available. Remember that Hamilton forfeited their first round pick in the 2009 Supplemental Draft. Look for updated mock drafts on Wednesday and Friday as NFL signings are reported and teams make their final adjustments prior to the draft.

Round 1

1. Toronto. John Bender, Nevada, OG

Bender is a huge guard that could potentially be a non-import anchor to a rebuilding offensive line. Although Shomari Williams currently tops the list of draft prospects, linebacker is more of a luxury pick while  an offensive lineman fills a greater need. The Argos will pick the better positional value.

2. Saskatchewan. Shomari Williams, Queen’s, LB

Saskatchewan could use a play maker and Williams fits the bill. After the CFL combine, Williams graded out as the top prospect available.  Teams usually have to leery of players who rise quickly on draft boards after the season, but the Rider nation should have nothing to worry about with Williams. They have a tremendous offensive line already, so adding depth can be done later in the draft.

3. BC. Brian Bulcke, Stanford, DL

The Lions, under the watch of Wally Buoano, have always had a strong defensive line with non-imports filling important roles.  Look for the Lions to add to their stable with the 6’4″, 280 lbs Bulcke.

4. Saskatchewan. Joe Eppele, Washington State, OT

This pick could also be Danny Watkins, and after taking a defensive player with their first pick in round one, the Riders select Eppele to add depth to their offensive line. Eppele is 6’8″ will the long arms and athleticism that is required for a successful tackle to keep his quarterback safe.

5. Calgary. Danny Watkins, Baylor, OT

The retirement of longtime lineman Rich Pilon means that Calgary needs to find a replacement in this year’s draft. Watkins fills the need and is also the best available player on the board.

6. Winnipeg. Cory Greenwood, Concordia, LB

Winnipeg recently released Siddeeq Shabazz, which is curious because linebacker is not a position of strength for the Blue Bombers. Greenwood is an intense player that will help Winnipeg in their second line of defence.

7. Montreal. Steven Turner, Bishop’s, WR

The diminutive combine standout is a playmaker and the Alouettes need to add depth to their Canadian receiving depth. The Alouettes have a knack for getting difference makers on their roster and will add the fastest player in the draft.

Round 2

8. Toronto. John Reindeers, Waterloo, OL

Toronto continues their rebuild by adding another talented offensive lineman. Reindeers is a monster at 6’8″, 290 lbs and can help the Argos work their way back to being a playoff team.

9. Edmonton. Taureen Allen, Wilfred Laurier, DB

The Eskimos struggled in their secondary last year and finding some more depth by adding a non-import defensive back is the way to go. Allen is a shutdown corner with first round talent. A steal for the Green & Gold.

10. BC. Joash Gesse, Montreal, LB

The Lions replace the departed Javier Glatt with another non-import linebacker in Gesse. A little undersized at 5’11”, 221 lbs, Geese is a playmaker that relies on his quickness and game smarts. The type of player Wally Buoano loves to have on his roster. 

11. Toronto. Eddie Steele, Manitoba, DT

A rebuilding team needs to add talent to their lines. After going with the offensive linemen with their first two picks, the Argos turn to the defensive line with their second pick of the second round.

12. Hamilton. J’Michael Deane, Michigan State, OL

Hamilton is the last team on the clock and scoop up J’Michael Deane, a versatile lineman that has experience on both sides of the line. Deane will certainly be a project, but he has been graded with having first round talent, so taking him with the 12th pick is good value for the Tiger-Cats.

13. Calgary. Akeen Foster, St. FX, WR

Foster is a huge receiver with tremendous upside. The Stampeders are currently stacked at wide receiver, but a developmental prospect with this type of talent is worth the risk.

14. Montreal. Kristian Matte, Concordia, OL

After adding a playmaker in the first round, Montreal will look to replenish their offensive line by taking local talent Kristian Matte. Matte is good in pass protection which suits the Als game plan to a tee. He has been rumoured to be exploring his options south of the border, but if he can’t find a suitor, Montreal is a good landing spot.

15. Montreal. Rob Maver, Guelph, K/P

Montreal is a stacked team and stacked team’s can afford to make luxury picks like this. Maver is currently ranked as a first round prospect, but a kicker is low on the positional value chart so Montreal once again gets a great player below market value.

Does NFL experience really count?

In going through the current roster, there are a variety of ways players find their way on to a CFL club. The CFL Draft, signed from a university or junior team (American or Canadian), or as a street free agent from the NFL. I should also include the football equivalent of career minor leaguers or those who come from leagues such as the UFL or Arena League. Most notably, the additions that seem to be a little over hyped are the NFL players coming north because they were deemed expendable by their NFL team and no one else would pick them up.

On the current roster, the Eskimos have 38 imports. Of those 38, 25 have NFL experience.  A few of those actually played in the CFL prior to moving to the NFL, before returning to the CFL. This includes both Ricky Ray and Dario Romero and it could be argued that both of those players were proven CFL commodities before their NFL experience. Also to be considered is that 16 of those 25 were in the NFL for less than two years, and for the most part were practice squad players who didn’t even play a snap of a regular season game. So that brings our list down to 8 players with what could be considered measurable NFL experience.

The players are Calvin Armstrong (OT), Rod Davis (LB), Skylar Green (WR), Efrem Hill (WR), Anthony Maddox (DT), Kenneth Pettway (DE), Chris Thompson (DB), and Lenny Walls (DB). We need to exclude Maddox and Pettway at this juncture as they are newly signed and have yet to play in the league. So what do we think of the remaining six?

Calvin Armstrong is starting tackle material at close to an all-star level. There are actually some concerns by fans that he has become so good that the NFL might snatch him from the Green & Gold.

Skylar Green and Efrim Hill are interesting because both only played a few games last year. Can they be difference makers? Maybe, but I can’t see either of them replacing players that the Eskimos already have.

On the defensive side of the ball, Rod Davis is a very interesting player for the Green & Gold. He played mostly as a situational pass rusher last year until Mo Lloyd was injured and he filled in at middle linebacker.  Davis is a play maker and given more opportunity, could be a very valuable member of the defence.

Chris Thompson and Lenny Walls can both be CFL all-stars, and in the short time they have been in the league, they have both proven that they can put up some monster numbers. Walls had seven interceptions last year playing for Winnipeg while Thompson had nine picks the year before when he was still with Hamilton. If these two can put together good to great seasons, the Eskimos should be in much better shape in their secondary this year.

So what does NFL experience count for? If the team can find players with that three to six years of NFL experience, bringing them onboard makes sense if you have a need at a position. If they have served less than three years in the NFL you might still have a quality player, however the odds that they can contribute at an all-star level decrease. Either way, when evaluating imports, NFL experience should count for something but if it were a true measuring stick for success, the Eskimos would be without players like Tristan Jackson, Maurice Lloyd, and Jason Maas.