May 19, 2023

Top Of The Depth Chart: Toronto Argonauts

Matt Smith/

We’re getting closer, aren’t we? The last time I did a “Top of the Depth Chart” instalment it was for the Ottawa REDBLACKS, and we were still weeks away from Ottawa selecting Dontae Bull first overall in the CFL Draft.

Now training camps are opening up. I bet you’re going over which All-Star went to which team while convincing yourself that the unknown free agent signing your favourite team made is going to have a big impact this season. This time around, I will do my best to predict who will be starting at every position for the Toronto Argonauts. As always, if I forgot to add an elite kicker or got the guard positions wrong you have every justification to be angry. Just make sure you send all complaints via e-mail to Chris O’Leary.

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» Top of the Depth Chart: BC Lions
» Top of the Depth Chart: Montreal Alouettes
» Top of the Depth Chart: Saskatchewan Roughriders


Kurleigh Gittens Jr.* Andrew Harris* Chad Kelly A.J. Ouellette Ryan Hunter* (OT)
Markeith Ambles Gregor Mackellar* (OG)
DaVaris Daniels Darius Ciraco* (C)
Cam Phillips Peter Nicastro* (OG)
Dejon Allen (OT)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


Compared to the other quarterbacks on the roster, Kelly is a grizzled old veteran. The entire East Division becomes so much more fascinating if Kelly can make that jump from backup to effective starter.


What will Kurleigh Gittens Jr. do in 2023, after another big season with the Grey Cup-winning Argos? (Christian Bender/

Every year Kurleigh Gittens Jr. gets better. He finished sixth in the league in receiving and is young enough that he doesn’t remember that at one point in time you needed to use a phone line to get on the internet.

In 2022, Markeith Ambles hit the receiver hat trick for career highs with his 72 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns. Then there’s DaVaris Daniels. The team’s second leading receiver, DaVaris led the Argonauts with 108 yards and one touchdown in last year’s Eastern Final victory over the Montreal Alouettes. Finally, we have Cam Phillips. Yes, it may be too much to ask Phillips to have a “Kurleigh Gittens Jr. bounce” in his third year as well, but in his sophomore season he quietly put up 515 yards in limited action.


Let’s see if eventual first ballot Hall-of-Famer Andrew Harris can go out in style. Harris got off to a solid start in 2021 and ended the year strong after his Week 10 injury.


I know, the classic fullback hasn’t been a part of the CFL in ages but with Toronto going with a young quarterback, if I’m head coach Ryan Dinwiddie I’m getting both of my talented running backs on the field at the same time as much as I can. That’s where A.J. Ouellette comes in. On another team Ouellette could easily be a 1,000-yard rusher.


What a quick study Ryan Hunter was in 2022. He joined the Double Blue late in the year, started practising with the starters near the end of September and ended up starting in the Grey Cup. As we move inside, we have offensive guard Gregor MacKellar. The Argonauts’ Most Outstanding Rookie started 12 games and appeared in 16 games total last year. That’s a nice return on investment for the sixth overall pick.

At centre, we have Darius Ciraco. The 2023 free agent has some big shoes to fill as he will be replacing All-Star Justin Lawrence. The good thing for Dinwiddie and Chad Kelly is there shouldn’t be any moment that is too big for Ciraco, who has over 60 starts under his belt and has played in two Grey Cups. Next to him stands Peter Nicastro, who slides over from centre to rejoin the Argos’ wall of humanity after an injury cost him the 2022 campaign. Finally, the other bookend on the o-line is Dejon Allen. A 2022 Eastern All-Star, Allen was Toronto’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman last year.


Tarvarus McFadden Wynton McManis Folarin Orimolade
Dashaun Amos Henoc Muamba* Shawn Oakman
Royce Metchie* Jordan Williams* Dewayne Hendrix
Adarius Pickett Robbie Smith*
Keith Washington Jr.

* denotes National
** denotes Global


We’ll start with Folarin Orimolade, the big prize free agent for the Boatmen! In 2022 as a member of the Calgary Stampeders, Orimolade announced himself to the rest of the league with 37 tackles, six sacks and then in case anyone wasn’t paying attention, he put up six more tackles and sacked Nathan Rourke twice in the Western Semi-Final.

Next to him at defensive tackle is one of the best names in the league, in Shawn Oakman. He earned an East Division All-Star team nomination with his 28 tackles, six regular season sacks and then collected two more quarterback takedowns in the postseason. At the other DT spot is Dewayne Hendix. A solid regular season contributor in 17 games, Hendrick turned it up in the Argos’ Grey Cup run with seven tackles and two sacks with one of those being on Zach Collaros to snuff out a second quarter Blue Bombers drive.

Finally, Robbie Smith rounds out the d-line. I could give you his numbers but instead I’ll just remind you that he blocked Winnipeg kicker Marc Liegghio‘s 47-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter, preserving the 109th Grey Cup for Toronto.



At the SAM linebacker spot we have Wynton McManis, who sure crammed in an entire season of football in 14 games. He ended the year with a career high in tackles, sacks and interceptions. The highlight of his season was his game-winning interception return touchdown against Saskatchewan in the Touchdown Atlantic game. McManis was both a CFL All-Star and the Argonauts’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

At WILL is Jordan Williams. The CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie winner from 2021 joins the Argonauts after two productive and fully healthy seasons with the BC Lions.

The man in the middle is veteran Henoc Muamba. What a year Muamba had, with 75 defensive tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. In the Grey Cup he was named Most Valuable Player, Best QEW Canadian defender and Most Valuable Canadian. Maybe one of those awards is fake but how about an award for the best defensive player between Toronto and Hamilton?


We’ve got Tarvarus McFadden at cornerback. The Florida State product had a productive rookie season, appearing in all 20 regular and playoff games for Toronto. At halfback is Dashaun Amos, who had a successful first season after leaving Calgary with a career-high 49 tackles while chipping in with four interceptions.

Safety Royce Metchie is the Canadian version of Amos. Both played three years in Calgary before coming to Toronto and both set career high in tackles in 2022. For his work, the team rewarded Metchie with a two-year extension over the winter.

I considered putting Adarius Pickett at linebacker but with the Argonauts able to field such a talented trio Pickett is headed to the secondary as a halfback. He has thrived wherever he has started with Montreal as was the case last year when he was named the Alouettes’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Finally, I’m going with an unknown for the final boundary position, with Keith Washington II. The biggest non-quarterback departure for the Double Blue was All-Star Jamal Peters leaving a massive hole for secondary coach Will Fields to fill. Kelly had a productive collegiate career at West Virginia but has bounced around a couple football leagues since. The Argonauts’ defence is a perfect environment for him to thrive, providing a big opportunity for Washington in 2023.


Boris Bede/John Haggerty** Adam Guillemette* Javon Leake

* denotes National
** denotes Global


2022 was bit of a down year for Boris Bede but he was one of the game’s best kickers in 2021 and can punt if called upon.


You couldn’t ask for a better year from Global rookie John Haggerty than being named to the Eastern All-Star team.


The Argos will have a new body at one of the most important but albeit one of the most unglamorous positions in the game. The Argos must have been impressed with Adam Guillemette, their third round pick in this year’s draft. They released veteran Max Letour in their camp cutdowns this week.


With Brandon Banks’ departure, the door opens for even more opportunity for the very well-balanced Javon Leake, who fielded 22 punt returns and yes you guessed it, 22 kickoff returns last season.

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