Moffat: My Expansion Draft advice to the REDBLACKS | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

I like you, Ottawa, so here’s how I’m willing to help welcome you back into the CFL. My advice is like some draft picks, though: Conditional.

REDBLACKS: Please hold up your end of the bargain and my insider trading on who the Alouettes may leave unprotected is yours for free in a world of “you get what you pay for”.

Mock Protection List

Does the fact that Anthony Calvillo is pondering retirement change which quarterback Montreal should protect? There are some veterans that spent the year on the IR.  Do you risk them walking? Rick Moffat has a look.

» Read Moffat's Mock Protection List
» Read all the Mock Protection Lists

Here’s hoping the street meat from Bank Street vendors is as tasty as previous decades. Here’s hoping “The Beaver Lodge” carvings are returned somewhere to the new stadium.

Obligatory visits from Russ Jackson and Tony Gabriel at games in 2014 are fine, but for these tips, you’ll have to wow me with tributes to some of the greatest names in Ottawa football history: Wonderful Monds, Julius Caesar Watts, Prince McJunkins lll and even Admiral Dewey Larry.

If you’re looking to win right out of the gate, claim Josh Neiswander and sign him. He won’t be flashy; he won’t wow the local media with juicy quips. Rather, he’ll be efficient, smart and bring a measure of calm through what could be turbulent times.

However, if you are willing to grow slowly, then Tanner Marsh is your guy.  One of the many 2013 rookies to get their first CFL victories in a year of upheaval in the pocket, Marsh has plenty of X-factor that seems to defy the X’s&O’s.  

He can scramble, he can chuck it deep.  But no one knows if he can do it consistently.  

“Marsh Madness” could certainly win some fan hype and the kid is only turning 24 at the start of training camp.  The lanky Texan who opted to learn from Ryan Leaf at West Texas A&M before becoming an Arkansas Tech Wonder Boy may need a firm hand to guide him, but he has plenty of upside.  

Marsh will not always make the right read at the right time, but if you want miracle bombs tossed in a driving rain like in his 39-38 comeback over the Lions despite four interceptions, Tanner’s your guy.

No matter which QB you select, Ottawa, you do him a favor by having someone who can catch.  That’s why Jamel Richardson could be of interest.  

If the Als gamble on leaving Richardson unprotected because he’s too expensive, too old and too banged up for your liking... then snag him.

Richardson will bring instant swag, competitive fire and will be a fan favourite. What expansion QB wouldn’t want to know he can get first downs aplenty just by learning to connect on those quick dig routes that Anthony Calvillo milked for several seasons?  

Even if he loses a step in 2014, Richardson can still bulldoze for yards after catch.

More Expansion Draft Coverage

» Top Expansion Draft Headlines
» to stream Expansion Draft LIVE
» A closer look at the Expansion Draft
» Mock Protection Lists: Writers make their picks
» Steinberg: Stamps need to protect Mitchell
» Riders have balancing act ahead of Draft
» Irving: Which QB should the Bombers protect?
» Als' Popp ready for what Ottawa throws at him

Championship teams are built around their Canadians, of course, so this is where you need to focus most intently.  Eric Deslauriers is a Gatineau native, yes, but hasn’t scored a receiving TD in two years.  I know he’s a tempting former 1st Round pick.  He’ll even do the chores on Special Teams.

Taking Deslauriers could be the equivalent of the Renegades’ move to grab Pat Woodcock.

Woodcock snagged the Grey Cup record longest TD catch (99 yards) in the 2002 Als’ win in Edmonton against the Esks, then for whatever reason couldn’t recapture the magic on a consistent basis.

Deslauriers is a big, lean target who has come down with some of Calvillo’s finest milestones (not to mention the catch of the Season in 2013 during the Marsh Miracle win prompting Tanner to say he’d throw to Eric in key situations “any day of the night”).  

He’s coming off only his second 20-plus receptions season and first since his rookie year, but he’s also on the north side of 30.  You may be able to come off with a bigger heist.

Steven Lumbala may be damaged goods, missing much of 2013 with an injury, but he’s a potential ratio changer on offence and Jim Popp was as excited to get him as any of his 2013 draft picks that also brought Mike Edem, Michael Klassen and several other prospects added to the roster throughout the year from Blake Nill’s Calgary football factory.

There’s no guarantee Lumbala will be available, but if so you’ll get a feisty Special Teams warrior as well.  

If Popp keeps him, that likely exposes Kristian Matte. He’s a former seventh overall selection and turns 29 in the New Year, but logged considerable time in the trenches.  

The Als O-line got off to a rough start, but went into lockdown mode especially once Troy Smith established himself.

Matte or Lumbala won’t be as flashy picks as Deslauriers’ potential homecoming, but they could serve the REDBLACKS well for longer.

Now, where’s my extra spicy sausage and which way to the Beaver Lodge?

About Rick

Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.

Fan Comments
I don't think Neiswander and Marsh are bad quarterbacks at all. Their time to shine came during a particularly chaotic period in Montreal's offensive strategy. At that point, it looked like Calvillo might be coming back, and Jim Popp was trying out all his options. Both of them, Neiswander in particular, could use some steady playing time. In Montreal he is not likely to get that now that Smith has taken the spotlight.

Calvillo hasn't announced his retirement. Is he eligible for the draft if not protected?
December 13, 2013 - 5:26pm
I see him as a QB coach next year only.
December 13, 2013 - 10:59pm
als rule
@W31: AC eligible for the draft if not protected?!! YES!! why would ottawa pick him?!! salary is $400K+ so ottawa would look pretty foolish in doing so!!
December 14, 2013 - 6:10pm
als rule
D: AC won't be a QB coach next year or the years after that!!
December 14, 2013 - 6:25pm
I don't know about picking up these guys. From what I was hearing on radio broadcasts Neiswander and Marsh both had downsides in comparison to Smith.

I realise its a a team game and they are playing the plays of the OC, but personally I wasn't as impressed with these guys compared to other backups around the CFL.

In my opinion I think Ottawa should stay clear of these choices unless they are in the backup role. CFL experience aside.
December 13, 2013 - 9:59am
Nieswander is so underrated. Had a bad game right before they threw Smith in, but his 2nd - 5th CFL starts were almost 1000 yards, 9 TDs and 2 INTs. Of all the various backups who could move into starter roles, Collaros is the only one better.
December 13, 2013 - 12:34pm
als rule
@D: con't from my last post to Dekkoy: don't judge montreal's back up QBs to other teams last year as none of them were involved in the chaos that surrounded montreal's 1st half of the season!!
December 14, 2013 - 6:24pm
als rule
@B: nieswander isn't underrated BUT some may have overrated him!! collaros is far from being the top back up QB in the CFL!! both mitchell of calgary and willy of regina are ahead of him!!
December 14, 2013 - 6:30pm
It is an interesting wee league we have when the assistant GM of one team can leave (with some of the staff) and then almost instantly pick the pocket of the team he left for the players he knows particularly well. Yes it is good for the league. But a special burden on Montreal all the same.
December 13, 2013 - 9:12am
als rule
not really!! als will only lose 3 players just like every other team!! as per burden NO!! why? cause all the front office people that went to ottawa were still under contract to montreal and had to obtain montreal/jim popp's permission to leave!! which he granted so as a result popp knew if there would be a burden he was aware of it and would be prepared!!
December 14, 2013 - 6:02pm
als rule
@WH: no brainer with TS!! neiswander is a FA and has no more upside than marsh!! marsh might? NO neiswander MIGHT!! #13 retires!! pray that #80 goes to ottawa PLEASE!! C OL #59, #58 are FAs along with A T/G #68!! still have C OLmen #51, #54 #55, #57, #60, #64 #67 plus C C philip blake barely holding on in the NFL!!
December 12, 2013 - 9:26pm
wild horse
Hey, Rick and I agree for once: Impossible not to protect Troy Smith. But Josh Neiswander showed he has a huge upside, and who is to say what potential Tanner Marsh might reach? AC gets the HOF. Hope Als can hold unto Quality Canadian Linemen. They are Solid Gold.
December 12, 2013 - 4:57pm