May 16, 2023

Which West QBs have the most to prove?

The Canadian Press

It’s time for Part II of my Most to Prove-O-Metre ranking with CFL quarterbacks and this time we jump over to the West Division. The West is an interesting mix of young quarterbacks looking to make their mark on the league, older veterans looking to finally reach the mountaintop and one player who has been there and done that. Speaking of which …

» Everything you need to know ahead of training camp
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Lowest on the Most to Prove-O-Metre: Zach Collaros (3 out of 10)

Listen, I understand these players are all crazy competitive, you’re only as good as your last game and 2023 represents a fresh slate for all players but when it comes to the Bombers quarterback, I’m not here for those cliches. Zach will continue to strive to play at the highest level but he’s coming off back-to-back Most Outstanding Player awards and has won two Grey Cups in the last three years. It’s hard to come up with too many other players with less to prove than Collaros.

Next: Vernon Adams Jr. (5 out of 10)

I would have considered putting the BC Lions’ quarterback higher but then I came across this quote: “I don’t necessarily need to prove to myself, but I do feel like I need to show the fans and show everyone we’re still as good. We still have a lot of the same pieces. And as a quarterback, your job is to score points and win games, and I’ve done a pretty good job of that throughout my career.”

This is not me saying this isn’t a big year for Adams. Of course, he is taking this coming season seriously. He spends so much of the off-season training with his teammates, but Adams is not in the same position as some other passers in the West. Certainly, he has to prove he can continue to keep the Lions near the top of the standings, but no one is expecting him to be the next Nathan Rourke.

Adams was steady in his first (half) season with the Lions after his arrival at the end of August. He has the benefit of three 1,000-yard receivers (Dominique Rhymes, Keon Hatcher and Lucky Whitehead) on the roster to make his job that much easier. The primary thing the former Alouette will have to prove is that he deserves to be the starter and that’s no slight on his own ability, but rather the fact that the Lions have the best backup and third string quarterbacks in the CFL with Dane Evans and Dominque Davis.


The Bronze Medal Winner: Taylor Cornelius (6.5 out of 10)

The journey to becoming an above average starter and (hopefully) eventual All-Star quarterback is a long and winding road with no guarantees. Edmonton Elks general manager Chris Jones spent the off-season trying to help Cornelius on that quest by giving head coach Chris Jones some new shiny weapons to assist the third-year signal caller.

Jones more than offset the loss of Kenny Lawler with the additions of 2022 Eastern Division Most Outstanding Player Eugene Lewis, Eastern All-Star Steven Dunbar Jr. and Kyran Moore. Now it is up to Cornelius to prove to Elks management that he is more than capable of utilizing all the new receiver talent on the roster. A dangerous runner in his first two years, Cornelius has improved as a passer, but the reality is you are not going to be a consistent winner with a sub 60 per cent completion rate.

At only 27, Cornelius has yet to reach his potential ceiling but the clock is ticking. With all these weapons surrounding him it’s time for him to take that next step as a passer.

Trevor Harris is a longtime starter who may only have things to prove to himself this season (The Canadian Press)

The Silver Medal Winner: Trevor Harris (7 out of 10)

Considering Harris is trying to get the Saskatchewan Roughriders back in the playoffs after the team missed the post-season for the first time in four years, you would think Harris would get the gold, but he just missed the top of the podium.

Harris is out to prove he can win a Grey Cup as the full-time starter, however Harris has had a far more productive career than most of the other quarterbacks who reside in the West. Not to get too existential but perhaps it’s his own dreams and standards he has the most to prove to. I know that last sentence sounds odd but follow me here.

During his introductory press conference, the newest Rider said: “In 2015, I remember telling my wife someday I’m going to be the quarterback for the Riders. You can just feel how important football is, how professional the organization is. My wife and I are both small-town people. It has a small-town feel there, but football is super important, and football is super important to me. It was something that I felt attracted to because I felt like it fits my personality.”

Clearly playing for the Green and White has been a dream of his. Now it’s time for Harris to prove his fantasies are in fact not a nightmare.

Top of the list: Jake Maier (8 out of 10)

The youngest player on this list also heads into the new season with the most to prove. He not only has to prove Dave Dickenson made the right choice ending that long and beautiful relationship with Bo Levi Mitchell, but similar to what is going on in Toronto there is not exactly much CFL experience backing up Maier. This organization is going all in with Jake.

It does make sense when you consider how productive he was as a rookie in 2021 with three straight 300-plus-yard games to kickstart his career. He was 6-3 as a starter in 2022 and won a couple games in relief appearances as well. The writing was on the wall for much of last season that the Calgary Stampeders were going to turn the keys over to the 26-year-old.

Maier needs to prove he is better than he was in his first playoff start, a 30-16 loss to the BC Lions. Yes, it is asking a lot from someone so young to be at their best in their first ever road playoff game, but that’s what comes when you are the starting quarterback for the organization that has done the most winning over the past decade. Maier has shown a remarkable amount of poise in a short period of time; now he needs to prove he is ready for that next step.

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