TORONTO — If you asked us a month ago, there would have been very little debate as to who boasts the best receiving corps in the CFL.
The Ottawa REDBLACKS, with four 1,000-yard receivers in back-to-back seasons, clearly set the bar over the last two seasons.
While no one was stacking up to the foursome of Greg Ellingson, Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams and Brad Sinopoli, free agency has quickly changed the pass-catching landscape.
With new faces in Ottawa, Saskatchewan and BC, who has the CFL’s top receiving corps?
The case for the Lions: Size vs. Speed
For the BC Lions, it is all about the near-perfect mix of size vs. speed. A perennial all-star Manny Arceneaux, already with Bryan Burnham, now has Chris Williams on his side, making for a team that has speed to burn and size to give any defensive back trouble.
Arceneaux is tough to contain one-on-one. Burnham catches everything over the middle and led the CFL in receiving average. And no defensive back can touch Chris Williams in a foot race.
The Key Weapons – Manny Arceneaux, Bryan Burnham, Chris Williams, Nick Moore, Shawn Gore, Shaq Johnson, Marco Iannuzzi
The case for the Riders: Mix of Youth & Leadership
The Riders already put themselves in the conversation by adding Duron Carter; now they have put Chad Owens in their compliment.
Veterans such as Owens and Rob Bagg surround a young group that has Caleb Holley, Ricky Collins and Armanti Edwards all entering their second year.
And the duo of Naaman Roosevelt and Duron Carter might be the best in the CFL.
This group is well-equipped for anything and can take the Riders a long way in 2017.
The Key Weapons – Duron Carter, Nic Demski, Naaman Roosevelt, Ricky Collins, Caleb Holley, Rob Bagg, Armanti Edwards
Brad Sinopoli (left) and Greg Ellingson (right) are back in the nation’s capital for ’17 (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
The case for the REDBLACKS: Sure Hands Across the Board
Gone are Williams and Ernest Jackson but in are speedsters Diontae Spencer and Kenny Shaw, who join the pairing of Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli. Juron Criner came on late in the season as a formidable weapon as well.
Trevor Harris will have nothing but talent surrounding him in his first full season as the unchallenged starter. That and a couple of familiar faces can’t hurt either.
Marcel Desjardins knew he couldn’t afford to keep the previous group together but the veteran GM made some savvy moves to maintain a dominant core group of pass-catchers as the REDBLACKS look to defend their title.