May 7, 2024

Top of the Depth Chart: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Peter Power/

Isn’t this something? For the first time in a long time, we head into a CFL season with some intriguing questions about who is next in a few key positions with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

There are locks on this roster. Plenty of them. But as training camp opens, the Bombers have open competitions at a number of spots; at receiver, on the offensive and defensive lines and on special teams.

Still Hungry: Oliveira just getting started building own legacy
» Cauz: Lawler’s consistency is what sets him apart
» One Question for 2024: Can the Bombers stay atop the West?
» A team-by-team look at the 2024 CFL Draft: Who did the Bombers select?
» Subscribe to the CFL’s newsletter for exclusive offers and league updates

With that in mind, here’s how things look at the top of the depth chart for Big Blue right now.


Receiver Running back Quarterback Fullback Offensive line
Dalton Schoen Brady Oliveira* Zach Collaros Stanley Bryant (LT)
Nic Demski* Liam Dobson* (LG)
Drew Wolitarsky* Chris Kolankowski* (C)
Kenny Lawler Patrick Neufeld* (RG)
K.J. Hill Eric Lofton (RT)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


QB Zach Collaros is back for his fourth full season as the Bombers starter (Daniel Crump/

Zach Collaros returns for his fourth full season as the Winnipeg starter. The 35-year-old, two-time MOP will have an old friend in the QB room with him, with the Bombers signing Chris Streveler to a deal for 2024.


Brady Oliveira returns to try and top his magnificent 2023 season, one in which he piled up 2,016 yards from scrimmage. The more than capable Johnny Augustine backs him up once again.


The Blue Bombers don’t currently have a fullback on their roster, with the retirement of Mike Miller and the release of Damian Jackson. But the team might have a fullback-in-training in the near future depending on how 2024 second round draft pick Michael Chris-Ike’s tryouts with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets go. Last season, Winnipeg actually played without a fullback on their depth chart in Weeks 4, 5 and 6.


Four easy choices to go top of the chart in 2024, with an open spot at the fifth receiver position. Kenny Lawler, Dalton Schoen, Drew Wolitarsky and Nic Demski are the “in ink” starters, while the Bombers search for a replacement for Rasheed Bailey, who signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Argonauts.

Winnipeg will have a large group of receiving hopefuls in camp, all trying to grab that last available starter’s spot. Hard to pick one as the favourite to land the position, but since writer Ed Tait singled out former Ohio State receiver K.J. Hill as someone to keep an eye on, I’ll plunk him down as the fifth here.


Change is a-comin’ on the offensive line, although you can lock in three veterans as starters; left tackle Stanley Bryant, centre Chris Kolankowski and right guard Patrick Neufeld. Left guard Geoff Gray (remains a free agent) and right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, who signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, are gone. It seems reasonable to give the nod at guard to third-year man Liam Dobson right now. Over at tackle, the Blue Bombers signed Eric Lofton this past off-season, after he started fourteen games for the Roughriders in 2023. Lofton’s back after spending the 2022 season in Winnipeg, albeit much of that time on the practice roster.


Defensive line Linebacker Defensive back
Willie Jefferson (DE) Kyrie Wilson (WLB) Jamal Parker (CB)
Jake Thomas*/Cameron Lawson* (DT) Adam Bighill (MLB) Deatrick Nichols (HB)
Miles Fox (DT) Redha Kramdi* (SLB) Brandon Alexander (S)
Ali Fayad (DE) Evan Holm (HB)
Tyrique McGhee (CB)

* denotes National
** denotes Global


There is change on this side of the line of scrimmage, too, for Winnipeg. But as is the case for the o-line, there is holdover veteran goodness here. The incomparable Willie Jefferson, the team’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2023, is back at defensive end, while Jake Thomas and Cam Lawson return to provide stellar interior rotational play as National tackles. Fellow tackle Ricky Walker is gone, though, as is defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, a mainstay with Winnipeg for the previous seven seasons.

DL Jackson Jeffcoat announced his retirement in February after six seasons in Winnipeg (Daniel Crump/

Ali Fayad looks like a decent bet to take over for Jeffcoat at end, signed by the Bombers after spending a year with the Argos in 2022, then opting for the USFL in 2023. But there’s gonna be a camp battle there as well as at Walker’s vacant tackle spot, where it is very difficult to say who emerges. But since Miles Fox is the guy with CFL experience (2022 with BC, last season on Winnipeg’s practice roster for the most part, appearing in two games), he gets pencilled in here.


No overthinking necessary here. Adam Bighill is back to anchor the defence at the middle linebacker spot. He’s now 35 years old but does anyone doubt that he’ll still be a force? Veteran Kyrie Wilson returned from an Achilles injury in 2023 to reclaim his spot at weak side linebacker and Redha Kramdi’s good play led to him taking over starting SAM duties last year.


The departure of 2023 CFL interceptions leader Demerio Houston to Calgary in free agency is the biggest hit the Blue Bombers have to overcome with this unit. Jamal Parker is likely to land one of the corner spots and halfbacks Evan Holm and Deatrick Nichols are returning along with safety Brandon Alexander, so the Bombers are wealthy in starting talent and experience in that secondary. Finding Houston’s replacement at boundary corner is the big challenge. Tyrique McGhee looks like the next man up after spending 2023 on the practice roster. But general manager Kyle Walters just recently said that he believes Canadian Tyrell Ford will compete for a starting position.


Kicker/Punter Long snapper Returner
Sergio Castillo/Jamieson Sheahan** Mike Benson* ?

* denotes National
** denotes Global


It’s Sergio Castillo, back for another season after going 46/51 on field goal attempts (90.2%) in 2023.


Jamieson Sheahan returns after being named Winnipeg’s Most Outstanding Rookie last season.


Veteran Mike Benson is back for his fourth year with the Bombers. Winnipeg has the heir apparent in place, it appears, after drafting Laval’s Ian Leroux in the fourth round of the draft.


Janarion Grant remains a free agent, and Walters hummed and hawed a bit when asked if there was still a possibility he could be back. “I don’t know how it works, financially, to be honest,” said Walters. So it appears change is indeed coming there. Tough act to follow after Grant’s sensational tenure as one of the most terrifying returners in the CFL.

“There’ll be a bunch of guys back there that the coaches will be taking a look at,” said Walters. Okay, then. Best I can do there is a question mark while we sit back and enjoy the training camp battle.

The comment system on this website is now powered by the Forums. We'd love for you to be part of the conversation; click the Start Discussion button below to register an account and join the community!