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July 11, 2018

The Weekly Say: With Franklin ‘graduated’, who is the new top QB prospect?

TORONTO — For the last couple of years James Franklin has been widely considered the top quarterback prospect in the CFL.

Franklin’s debut with the Argos over the weekend was short of sparkling, but the highly-touted backup has finally emerged from the shadows and taken over what could be a long-term starting role.

So as Franklin ‘graduates’ from top prospect to emerging starter, who is the new quarterback of the future?

There are plenty of options.

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Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler immediately comes to mind after flashing his upside, particularly his dual-threat ability, in three starts while Matt Nichols was injured.

In Toronto, McLeod Bethel-Thompson narrowly lost out on the No. 2 job to Franklin, but is highly-regarded by Argos head coach Marc Trestman.

In BC there’s Cody Fajardo, while the Lions also had to have liked what they saw from Ricky Lloyd throughout pre-season, making the 25-year-old an intriguing developmental project for the future.

Vernon Adams Jr. continues to bide his time, as his career has come full circle in Montreal where he’s joined by another prospect in Matthew Shiltz.

Then of course there’s the biggest name of all, Johnny Manziel, who continues to be blocked on the depth chart by Jeremiah Masoli but has mesmerizing potential.

That and more in the latest from The Weekly Say.

With Franklin graduated, who is the new top quarterback prospect?

Chris Streveler has emerged as an intriguing prospect after some early-season experience (Trevor Hagan/CFL.ca)

Don Landry: I think it’s pretty obvious that of the quarterbacks we’ve seen that are not currently starters, Chris Streveler is the one who has been most impressive and is the most likely to one day be a bona fide starter. I suppose an eye-popping outing from Johnny Manziel somewhere along the line could change that notion. And let me just say this: Jeff Mathews is just 26 years old (27 next month) and has the tools to be a very good pro quarterback. Now, if he’d just be given some protection and a real shot at winning a top job, I think he could emerge.

Davis Sanchez: Chris Streveler. He’s shown us the most, at least at this point.

Marshall Ferguson: Streveler has all the tools to be effective for the foreseeable future. If he develops touch and timing as a passer to match his athleticism and arm strength he can help a team improve its QB situation very soon.

Jim Morris: Right now, I think you have to say Streveler. He’s still very young but has shown poise and composure. He needs more experience but certainly has brought some excitement to the league.

Chris O’Leary: Hype always plays into the ‘next’ status, but it dominates here. I’m dying to see what Johnny Manziel can do in a game. Sure, the future will likely be short-lived with him, but if I had the choice of starting any backup in the league this week, I’d want to see Manziel (Honourable mention: Chris Streveler).

Matthew Cauz: As someone who recently wrote about Jeremiah Masoli being close to elite, I am NOT voting for Manziel. The obvious answer has to be Streveler, who had some pretty fun moments for the Bombers.

Fan Poll
Is Chris Streveler the new top QB prospect in the CFL?
Yes
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Are the Bombers the biggest threat to Calgary in the West?

Matt Nichols led an impressive Bombers attack in his 2018 season debut (Trevor Hagan/CFL.ca)

Ferguson: Winnipeg upgraded the defence and national talent offensively. A solid offensive line, a productive return game. The 2018 Bombers are better than the 2017 edition who felt like they were ready to take the Grey Cup leap.

Landry: I do think of the Bombers as Calgary’s biggest threat in the West moving forward, with Nichols back and doing his thing. That offence is multi-faceted and filled with talent. But it’s more than that. The defence is getting precisely what it needs from linebacker Adam Bighill; catalytic leadership and big plays. Trending upwards.

Sanchez: Close, but I still give that to Edmonton for now because of the offence and Mike Reilly. Once Esks are healthy defensively I’d like to see what they look like.

Cauz: Hey wait, didn’t Mike Reilly win the 2017 MOP? I still have this as being all about the battle of Alberta between Calgary and Edmonton. 

Morris: Both the Bombers and Eskimos have shown flashes of brilliance and also periods of mediocracy this year. I still like Edmonton better.

O’Leary: At this point, I still think Edmonton is Calgary’s biggest challenger in the West. A strong season from Winnipeg might change my mind, but the Esks have the best quarterback in the league and the experience of getting at least to the Western or Eastern Final the last four years.

Fan Poll
Who is the bigger threat to Calgary in the West?
Winnipeg
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Edmonton
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Saskatchewan
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BC
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Is it time to give up on Jonathon Jennings?

Jonathon Jennings’ struggles from 2017 have carried into the new season (The Canadian Press)

O’Leary: Jennings is only 25, so there’s time left for him to figure this out. There are starting QBs in this league — Jeremiah Masoli, Matt Nichols and Trevor Harris quickly come to mind — that didn’t have straight A to B journeys as pros. Jennings’ story isn’t written yet.

Morris: No, not quite yet. He’s still struggling to adapt to a new offensive system. I do believe the sand is running out of the hour glass though. He needs a win against the Bombers this week to regain some confidence. A quarterback as good as Jennings was two years ago doesn’t suddenly become terrible.

Landry: Not giving up. He’s still young and still possesses the abilities we’ve seen in the past. It’s not a given that he will reach those heights again but I’d be cautious about writing him off for good just now. But would I give him some bench time if Travis Lulay is ready to go? Yes I would.

Sanchez: Not at all… He wouldn’t be my Week 5 starter if I had a healthy Lulay, but Jennings has showed me enough in his time in the league to believe this is a bad slump and not who Jonathon is.

Cauz: Hell no! I still have his 2016 season dancing around in my head. I fully understand that if you look back at his last 18 regular season games you would be wildly disappointed by his performance but I’m still holding out hope.

Ferguson: There is too much talent to give up on Jennings. I just wish someone would harness that wild arm and find a way to make it productive. He’s still the future if the Lions can find a way to progress.

Fan Poll
Is it time to give up on Jonathon Jennings?
Yes
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No
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