Safety Options

As reported by Chris O’Leary with the Edmonton Journal, the Eskimos auditioned several players at safety at practice on Thursday. Non-imports Saleem Borhot and Javier Glatt along with import linebacker Rod Davis and defensive back Weldon Brown all tried their hand at manning centre field for the Green & Gold secondary. With arguably the most dangerous quarterback in the CFL coming to town on Sunday in Anthony Calvillo, having a solid and consistent secondary across the board will be paramount to the Eskimos aspirations of winning. Calvillo has been in the game long enough to spot a chink in the armour and won’t hesitate to exploit it.

Let’s take a look at all four options and weigh the pro and cons of each player.

Saleem Borhot, S

Pros: Borhot is a natural defensive back with good height (6’3″) and range.  He’s also the only safety out the four and will know the position better than anyone else. He was a play maker in university and showed the ability to pick off the ball when given the opportunity. As a non-import he also allows the Eskimos to play an import at another position like receiver or linebacker.

Cons: Borhot is as raw as they come for a CFL rookie. Hampered by a leg injury in training camp, he didn’t see any action in pre-season. Safety is very much a read and react position and the pace might be a little much for him.

Javier Glatt, LB

Pros: Glatt is a CFL veteran who has seen it all and won’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of facing one of the most potent passing attacks in the CFL. Like Borhot, because Glatt is a non-import, he will allow the Eskimos greater roster flexibility in managing the import ratio. As a linebacker, Glatt is also built to deliver the big hits, which could help in closing down the middle of the field.

Cons: Not having practiced as a defensive back prior to Thursday will definitely hamper Glatt’s ability to step seamlessly into the lineup. Unlike Borhot, Glatt is a smaller player, stockier player who’s speed is not in the same range as most of the defensive backs. This could lead to the Eskimos being exposed deep up the middle.

Weldon Brown, DB

Pros: Although he is a CFL rookie, Brown advantage is that he has lined up at safety before. As a defensive back, he is also probably the one most suited to take over from the ailing Jason Nugent. In the pre-season, he played well enough to record six tackles in the game against Calgary, limiting the gain after the catch of the Calgary receivers. Brown is also one of the quickest players on the Eskimos roster, so covering the deep ball shouldn’t be a problem.

Cons: As an import, if Brown goes in a safety, someone else needs to be replaced by a non-import somewhere else. This is a huge consideration for the Eskimos coaches. He is also the smallest option at only five-foot-ten, 185-pounds, although to be fair has shown he can be a consistent tackler.

Rod Davis, LB

Pros: If someone comes over the middle with their head down, watch out. Davis is an explosive hitter that can certainly make a receiver pull up if they sense he is coming. Davis is a second year CFL player, so he knows the game, the players, and the tendencies of opposing teams. He also brings a large presence to the defensive secondary and has decent speed for a player his size. Don’t forget that Davis also had a couple of interceptions last year when dropping back into coverage so he has shown the ability to pick off passes.

Cons: Once again, the import ratio issue counts as an immediate strike against Davis. Like fellow linebacker Glatt, he would also be playing out of position, which means that his familiarity with coverages is limited. Also working against the linebacker is the lack of flat out speed it takes to keep up with receivers on deep routes.

The Decision

Whoever coach Richie Hall goes with at safety will certainly have implications both on the roster setup and scheme implemented for Sunday’s game. Brown may be the best option in terms of talent, but sacrificing a import at another position may be something that the team decides against. Either way, the team will need to make an adjustment somewhere keeping in mind that to win on Sunday, limiting Anthony Calvillo and the rest of the Montreal offense to minimal passing yards will be a key.

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