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|
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|
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?
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.