May 10, 2023

Top of the Depth Chart: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Matt Smith (

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are coming into 2023 with an entirely new offence.

Quarterback, receivers, offensive line, offensive coordinator are all being changed over from last year’s disappointing six win season.

Riderville was getting used to Cody Fajardo, Shaq Evans, and Kyran Moore as the centrepieces of the offence, while Duke Williams was supposed to provide a huge boost. None of it worked out and all of them are now playing elsewhere in the league.

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The team also pinned some of the blame on offensive coordinator Jason Maas, who is now coaching Montreal, and promoted Kelly Jeffrey as the new O.C. in Saskatchewan. Jeffrey is a relative unknown for CFL fans but many in the coaching ranks speak highly of the former Mount Allison head coach.

Another big departure this off-season was Dan Clark not being re-signed as the Riders move on from the longtime hometown centre as another sign that the team was in the mood for major change to turn the franchise back around.

As for taking a crack at this depth chart, I’m chuckling trying to put some of the pieces together because I’m not sure the coaches quite have anybody written down in pencil in a few of the spots heading into training camp. But…here’s a shot.


Receiver Running Back Quarterback Fullback Offensive Line
Derel Walker Jamal Morrow Trevor Harris Bruno LaBelle* Jeremiah Poutasi (LT)
Jake Wieneke Philip Blake* (LG)
Brayden Lenius* Peter Godber* (C)
Shawn Bane Jr. Evan Johnson* (RG)
Kooper Richardson* (RT)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


Enter, Trevor Harris. The veteran quarterback told me this off-season he wants ‘all the smoke’ when asked about the fishbowl that Saskatchewan can bring in terms of attention. He knows he’s the face of the franchise. He knows the pressure is on. And he doesn’t appear to be a guy who will crack under that pressure. The organization can ill afford a miss on paying big money to bring Harris in.


While Jamal Morrow is the incumbent starter, the Riders have a plethora of talent here coming to the season. Frankie Hickson will push Morrow for a bigger share of the carries after the rookie burst on to the scene in 2022 before getting injured. They also brought in some more dynamic running backs to give these two a push for carries as well. Calling Bruno LaBelle a fullback seems a bit misplaced, but the six-foot-four, 248-pound LaBelle is a pass catcher who can double as an extra offensive tackle lined up as a tight end.


Derel Walker will bring his receiving skills to Saskatchewan after a strong 2022 season (Heywood Yu/

What a difference a year makes as only the Nationals were kept in Saskatchewan and it’s a complete overhaul of the American spots in the lineup. Derel Walker was a steal of a deal for the Riders and after he finished off 2022 strong, the 31-year old wants to prove he’s got more 1,000 yard seasons in him yet. Jake Wieneke enters the Riders with chemistry built in with Trevor Harris from Montreal and the ability to take on an even bigger role than what he was given in Montreal. Brayden Lenius will start the year as the unquestioned top National on the depth chart as Kian Schaffer-Baker heals up from off-season surgery. When healthy, the Riders will have a tremendous set of five receivers to role out there. That brings us to Shawn Bane Jr. who like Wieneke is ready for a breakout season. But Bane will be in a battle for the final starting spot with many rookie receivers who will try to impress in camp.


I listed five starters but in reality, all the jobs are open. Peter Godber is the most locked in. Philip Blake didn’t get paid to be a back-up and he’s so versatile, who knows where he’ll earn a job. From there in the other National starter spot they have the vet Evan Johnson with Logan Ferland and Logan Bandy with starting experience. There’s also a top prospect in last year’s second round pick Zack Fry out of Western. A few National offensive linemen are going to be disappointed come June because six players feel they can start with only three jobs to be won. Jeremy O’Day has made it clear his first inclination is to go American at tackles, despite Blake’s play at tackle down the stretch for the Argos last season. So in come seven American tackles to camp for two spots. Oh, yeah, the offensive line picture is as blurry as a photo on the old flip phones.


Defensive Back Linebacker Defensive Line
Nick Marshall (CB) Micah Teitz* (WLB) Pete Robertson (DE)
Rolan Milligan (HB) Larry Dean (MLB) Anthony Lanier II (DT)
Nelson Lokombo* (S) Derrick Moncrief (SAM) Micah Johnson (DT)
Jeremy Clark (HB) Stefen Banks (DE)
C.J. Reavis (CB)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


With the Roughriders moving on from A.C. Leonard and Charleston Hughes, you insert Stefen Banks from the Calgary Stampeders. Banks brings CFL experience and another player hoping to shine with more playing time in a new environment. The two holdovers from last year, Pete Robertson and Anthony Lanier II, will be the straws that stir the drink. Robertson was on his way to breaking records last year until he was hurt and Lanier II is likely the most underrated defensive tackle in the league, who gets a lot of praise from his colleagues across the line of scrimmage. Micah Johnson returns in what will likely be a more rotational role like he had in Hamilton last season with a few other young defensive lineman the Riders have brought in.


The dynamic duo of Larry Dean and Darnell Sankey was broken up when Sankey opted to move south, but returning to the linebacking corps is Micah Teitz, who missed all of last season due to a hip issue. Now that Teitz is healthy, he’s hoping to reclaim his full time spot at linebacker after having a breakout season in 2021. Rounding out the talented linebacking group is Derrick Moncrief, who you will likely see lineup at safety a few times this season as well with defensive coordinator Jason Shivers always changing up his coverages and packages for the opposition.


Nelson Lokombo was drafted second overall in 2022 and is looking to establish himself in the secondary (University of Saskatchewan Athletics)

The Roughriders appear to be staying consistent with this group, aside from letting veteran Mike Edem go in the off-season. The Riders have a few options to replace him. The first guy to get a look will be former second overall pick Nelson Lokombo. After him you’ll see last year’s draft steal Jayden Dalke get a shot and this year’s second round pick Jaxon Ford. But overall, Nick Marshall, Rolan Milligan, Jeremy Clark and C.J. Reavis provide the secondary with chemistry to build on from last year, while knowing the team is wide open to changing something up if a new face shines in camp.


Kicker/Punter Long Snapper Returner
Brett Lauther*/Kaare Vedvik** Jorgen Hus* Mario Alford

* denotes National
** denotes Global

No reason to change anybody over here. Lauther had a down year last year but is sure to find his form. Vedvik likely feels the same seeing his average and net average go down from the year previous. I’d argue Jorgen Hus is the best snapper in the league while Mario Alford proved last season that he’s the best return man in the league with the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award.

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