Jeremy O’Day mused there was no hiding that the depth of the receivers in the CFL Draft was impressive.
There was also a clear need for the Roughriders to try to get some young talent at that position to complement the veterans Patrick Lavoie and Cory Watson.
Add them together and the new general manager wasn’t about to let two of the top pass catchers in the draft go anywhere, selecting two tall, physical receivers to start their draft.
Coming to Saskatchewan are Justin McInnis (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) and Brayden Lenius (6-foot-5 230 pounds).
McInnis has been regarded by many as the receiver in the draft that could have the highest ceiling due to his stature combined with his athleticism.
Lenius is a bigger body, think Jason Clermont-esque. Now, it’s up to him to make the physical comparison turn into a fair comparison in terms of a football player. For that he’ll have a long way to go but you can’t teach size.
The Riders are taking the risk that their top two picks won’t be in Saskatchewan on day one of camp as both players have garnered NFL interest with invites to mini-camps. McInnis had numerous NFL teams make contact to try to get him into their mini-camps, so he will be busy in the coming weeks trying to land an NFL deal before Riders’ main camp opens on May 19 in Saskatoon.
The bonus for the Riders is that as much as they’d love to have them both in camp, there isn’t an urgent need with the capable veterans already in place.
But there was no hiding the fact the Roughriders feel the need for receivers as their number one issue with their top two players on the depth chart over the age of 30.
McInnis and Lenius are building blocks to the Riders trying to return to a time when they had the best crop of Canadian receivers in the league. It wasn’t too long ago they had Andy Fantuz, Jason Clermont, Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg featured in the offence.
The rest of the draft the Riders increased depth at positions in need.
Jacob Janke could be an option to slide between safety and multiple linebacker. First thing’s first, he’s a perfect fit to try to win a spot on the team on special teams. You turn on the film and he invites contact on special teams. He lined up in the middle of the defence for York, at the outside linebacker spot, and he lined up deep off the ball. He was all over the place and is able the shed blocks against the run and has speed to close the gap in coverage. First person I thought of while watching his film: Mike Edem. Edem showed his versatility for the Riders last season. Janke appears to have the same skill set.
Charbile Dabire at 300 pounds brings some impressive size to the defensive line Riders to try out for the backup spot for starter Zack Evans. While Makana Henry is likely to be the main backup to Evans, Dabire gives more depth to a position the Riders have locked in as a starting ratio position.
Vincent Roy is likely to return to school with Sherbrooke as the Roughriders’ depth on the offensive line isn’t an urgent need, mainly because of Dakoda Shepley‘s addition in the last month. The team feels they have five, if not six, offensive lineman who could start in the league for their three starting positions. Roy has made the move in college from defensive line to offence so another year in college after his pro camp will be a benefit.
And finally, the Riders went off the board with 28-year-old Chris Judge. The last name is a familiar one as Chris’ brother is Cameron Judge, whom the Riders drafted in 2017 in the first round. Cameron just so happens to be the YOUNGER brother of Christopher. While he’s been out of football for awhile, Judge (the elder) was a strong special teams player in college. Absolutely an eighth round flier that could pay off at a time in the draft when finding a roster player is rare.
Jeremy O’Day will, like all general managers, will tell us he got the players he wanted. As for how he did, we’ll know more about that if we are talking about some of these players as consistent contributors three years from now.