Ratio round-up: Lions, Esks, Stamps

Achieving success in the CFL is nearly impossible without quality Canadian content. National players fill 21 of each team’s 44 roster spots, at least seven of whom must start. Aside from quarterback play, Canadian content is the biggest factor in determining season-long success in the CFL.

For CFL general managers, finding seven starting-calibre Canadians is one of the toughest parts of their job. Finding seven solid players to back them up may be the toughest.

Teams scour free agency, the draft, and local junior football clubs for players they feel can contribute as either a starter, back-up or special teamer.

With this in mind, my three-part Ratio Round-Up series will seek to review how each team navigated the ratio last season and project how they may approach it in 2017.

B.C. Lions

The Lions were very consistent in their approach to the ratio last season, starting national players in the same seven positions in all eighteen regular season games.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Wide Receiver Shawn Gore Stephen Adekolu
Wide Receiver Marco Iannuzzi Stephen Adekolu
Left Guard Hunter Steward Tim O’Neill
Centre Cody Husband Tim O’Neill
Right Guard Kirby Fabien Charles Vaillancourt
Defensive Tackle Jabar Westerman David Menard
Safety Mike Edem Eric Fraser

 

B.C.’s ratio structure from a season ago was very similar to their approach in 2015, the lone change being the decision to start Canadians at both the wide receiver spots. This change was propagated by the departure of starting national running back Andrew Harris in free agency.

The Lions appear set to make one ratio change for the second consecutive year following the departure of Canadian defensive tackle Jabar Westerman in free agency.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Wide Receiver Shawn Gore Stephen Adekolu, David Richards
Wide Receiver Marco Iannuzzi Brett Blaszko, Shaq Johnson
Left Guard Hunter Steward Jaskaran Dhillon
Centre Cody Husband Quinn Horton, Alec Pennell
Right Guard Kirby Fabien Charles Vaillancourt
Cornerback Keynan Parker Matt Bucknor, Anthony Thompson
Safety Mike Edem Eric Fraser, Brennan Van Nistelrooy

With Westerman now in Montreal, B.C. appears primed to start two Canadians in the secondary. Mike Edem and Eric Fraser are both capable safeties, while Keynan Parker (fresh off a two-year contract extension) showed flashes during spot duty at strong-side cornerback last season. Anthony Thompson, B.C.’s second round pick from a season ago, possesses the athleticism to play cornerback at the CFL level, while Matt Bucknor, signed in February, started 36 games at strong-side cornerback for the Bombers from 2014-2015.

This quintet should provide the Leos with enough talent and depth to start two Canadians in the secondary, completing their ratio.

The future of Shawn Gore’s career may further impact the Lions’ ratio structure in 2017. Gore, who will turn 30 next month, is coming off the best season of his career that saw him post 59 receptions for 835 yards and three touchdowns in sixteen games. Concussions have limited Gore in the past and he may choose to avoid allowing them to impact his future.

If Gore retires, the Lions may elect to start just one national wide receiver this upcoming season. If this is the case, expect fourth-year man David Menard to start at defensive tackle with his back-up coming from a strong 2017 defensive line draft class.

Calgary Stampeders

The Stamps have utilized the same ratio structure for many seasons and 2016 was no exception.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Running Back Jerome Messam Rob Cote
Wide Receiver Anthony Parker Simon Charbonneau-Campeau
Left Guard Shane Bergman Roman Grozman
Centre Pierre Lavertu Cameron Thorn
Right Guard Spencer Wilson Brad Erdos
Right Tackle Dan Federkeil Spencer Wilson
Defensive Tackle Junior Turner Quinn Smith

 

Calgary has the deepest pool of Canadian offensive linemen in the CFL, allowing them to consistently start four national hogs despite significant injuries to Pierre Lavertu, Dan Federkeil, and Karl Lavoie in recent years. This group will serve as the core of the Stamps’ ratio structure next season and beyond.

If Calgary’s ratio had one weakness a season ago it was the lack of a Canadian back-up for running back Jerome Messam. The Stamps would be forced to make an adjustment elsewhere on the roster in the event of an in-game injury to the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian, a significant inconvenience for a team that thrives on consistency.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Running Back Jerome Messam Anthony Woodson, Charlie Power, Rob Cote
Wide Receiver Anthony Parker Lemar Durant, Juwan Brescacin, Rory Kohlert
Left Guard Shane Bergman Roman Grozman
Centre Pierre Lavertu Cameron Thorn
Right Guard Spencer Wilson Brad Erdos
Right Tackle Dan Federkeil Karl Levoie
Defensive Tackle Junior Turner Quinn Smith, Derek Wiggan
Middle Linebacker Alex Singleton Beau Landry, Max Caron

This issue has been taken care of for 2017. Not only did the Stamps add a veteran Canadian running back in Anthony Woodson, but they also promoted 2016 first rounder Alex Singleton to the starting middle linebacker spot late last season. Starting eight Canadians — one more than the minimum of seven — means that Calgary will not have to make any adjustments to its ratio in case of an injury to one of its national starters.

Edmonton Eskimos

The Esks were the only CFL team to consistently start three Canadian receivers in 2016, a trend that is expected to continue this upcoming season.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Wide Receiver Nate Coehoorn Devon Bailey
Slotback Cory Watson Natey Adjei
Slotback Chris Getzlaf Natey Adjei
Left Guard Simeon Rottier Chris Greaves
Centre Justin Sorensen David Beard
Right Guard Matt O’Donnell Danny Groulx
Safety Neil King Cauchy Muamba

 

Chris Getzlaf wasn’t re-signed following a disappointing 41-reception season, but Shamawd Chambers — now in his second stint with the club — should replace him in the starting line-up.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Wide Receiver Nate Coehoorn Andrew Johnson
Slotback Cory Watson Natey Adjei
Slotback Shamawd Chambers Anthony Barrett
Left Guard Simeon Rottier Chris Greaves
Centre Justin Sorensen David Beard
Right Guard Matt O’Donnell Danny Groulx
Safety Neil King Andrew Lue, Mike Dubuisson, Josh Woodman

 

The potential flaw with Edmonton’s approach to the ratio is the club’s lack of Canadian depth in the receiving corps. The Eskimos dealt with this short-coming a season ago by starting national Eddie Steele at defensive tackle when Cory Watson missed a stretch of games due to injury, allowing for international Greg Zylstra to replace the Canadian slotback. Edmonton no longer has the option of starting a national defensive tackle following the release of Steele last month and the departure of Don Oramasionwu in free agency.

A change along the offensive line appears likely should the Esks lose a starting Canadian receiver to injury in 2017. 2015 draftees Danny Groulx and David Beard should be ready to start, but incumbents Rottier, Sorensen, and O’Donnell have the three interior spots locked down. Is it possible that Groulx, a dominant tackle at Laval, becomes the Esks’ new starting right tackle? Or does O’Donnell, once considered a tackle prospect with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, shift outside to allow Groulx to take over at guard?

Time will tell.

Stay tuned for parts two (Riders, Bombers, Argos) and three (Ticats, Redblacks, Als) of the Ratio Round-Up in the coming days.

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
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John Hodge
About John Hodge (295 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

22 Comments on Ratio round-up: Lions, Esks, Stamps

  1. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 2:17 pm //

    Canadian depth!especially the o-line,that’s the secret in this league as I say here and many times thought out many stories on here.

    • Ryan Leaf's Itchy Elbow // March 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm //

      Based on your contributions it seems like you work for the Redundancy Department of Redundancy. Oh Stampland, what would this website do without you. If you could get a translator for your comments that would help as well.

  2. Cory Greenwood starts at LB backed up by Konar, Parrish, Lalama, Ogbongbemega. 2 NAT receiver positions makes for much better depth

    • Hi Nathan — you’re absolutely right, Greenwood could be a starter at WILL. We’ll have to see how things shape up in camp next year. The Esks were hesitant to play Canucks on defense last year, so we’ll see where things shape up exactly come late May/early June.

  3. Small correction, in 2016 the Esks were not reliant on 3 national receivers to make their ratio as they had a Canadian position at Defensive Tackle (Eddie Steel and Donny O) that is not listed in your analysis above. For 2017 the Esks have moved away from a Canadian position on the D Line, but have signaled that they will be replacing that with a Canadian at LB (Greenwood, Konar, ect), so again they are not reliant on starting 3 Canadian receivers.

    • Hey there — I poured through EDM’s 2016 depth charts while doing research for this piece and found that the Esks mostly started two Americans at DT. Eddie Steele started the season opener with three CDNs at receiver, but that was just about the only time EDM started eight Canadians.

      Jabari Hunt started a lot of games at DT alongside Almondo Sewell, with Jason Vega also getting time in that spot. Steele mostly started when Cory Watson was replaced by American Greg Zylstra.

      When Nate Coehoorn was out in late July, for instance, the Esks started Natey Adjei at WR instead of starting Steele at DT. Steele was a consistent rotational guy, but not a regular starter in 2016.

  4. Spot on, Nathan. That allows them to put Hazleton, Zylstra & Bowman on the field in 5 receiver sets. They also have National Blair Smith as another backup.

  5. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 4:42 pm //

    you gotta admit those signature uniforms the stamps have were by far the coolest in the league!!!!
    also can’t understate the importance of Mike Singleton who started from mid season on last year,.Calgary’s off season FA signings were very calculated and addressed all depth issue at that and the RB position

  6. Jimmy Breslin // March 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm //

    One glaring problem with this analysis as concerns Edmonton. The Canadian receiver depth. Not looking too deep. Both Getzlaf and Bailey remain unsigned, by anyone in fact. One might be too old the other lacking the ability to play special teams. Edmonton may have blown a first round pick on Bailey if they just let him go.

  7. Jimmy Breslin // March 15, 2017 at 8:29 pm //

    Just to correct my earlier point, I agree with this assessment that Edmonton is now weak at the Canadian receiver spot, the analysis isn’t flawed I meant to say Edmonton’s depth is. I’m also not convinced Chambers is the answer, in my opinion other teams have far deeper Canadian talent at this critical skill position.

  8. The Esks projected is wrong, Cory Greenwood has been missed and will certainly be a starter in the defense. Chambers will start, but not Coehoorn he will be relegated to #6 or even #7 receiver after the issues he had last year.

    Wide Receiver Shamawd Chambers – Nate Coehoorn -Andrew Johnson
    Slotback Cory Watson – Natey Adjei- Anthony Barrett
    Left Guard Simeon Rottier – Chris Greaves
    Centre Justin Sorensen – David Beard
    Right Guard Matt O’Donnell – Danny Groulx
    WLB Cory Greenwood – Adam Konar – Doug Parish – DJ Lalama
    Safety Neil King – Mike Dubuisson
    Back-up DB’s Andrew Lue – Josh Woodman

  9. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 9:19 pm //

    Not be surprised if one of Durant or Brescacin take parkers spot or take Jordens spot at slot(making a 9 canadian starters possible)

  10. Durant plays inside and Brescasin is not ready yet to be a starter and Huff always gives the young guys time at adapt to pro ballq

    • stampland // March 15, 2017 at 11:04 pm //

      CFL Guru….Did you wonder why wrote “or Jorden’s spot at slot”???
      Besides that Durant is absolutely a wide out not an inside .I think he’s primed to take over for Parker ,Brescasin while also a wide out has a potential to play slot IMO

  11. In Calgary’s base 5 receiver offense, they always played with 2 Canadian receivers. When everyone is healthy, they have 4 OL. Add in Messam at RB, Turner at DT (this year it will be Smith as Turner is out for the season with an injury) and Singleton at LB.
    When everyone is healthy, they start 9 Canadians. With injuries on the o-line, at times they started only three Canadians. They would often sub out Messam with an import without having to change other personnel.

    If they recruit an import who is better than their starting Canadians, he can start. Not many teams can say that.

    • stampland // March 16, 2017 at 12:08 am //

      yep this is an amazing organization. Canadian situation is unreal as is our ability to replace imports with equally good or even better imports (see archibald,bryant,Dennis and now one of williams,Carter,Richards),also 2 rookies at corner in Campbell and Evans last year.
      So you say Calgary played only 3 Canadians on Oline at times last year? I can tell you I don’t remember that

  12. Yes Calgary has great National depth. Will likely start Bryan Hall @DT over Smith. Esks won’t play 3 National receivers & 2 imports. Will go back to 3 imports as per 2015 when Stafford was there. Hazelton & Zylstra join Bowman.

  13. Uncle Nik // March 16, 2017 at 10:08 am //

    Looks like the stamps are in trouble at the running back Position. With an aging Messam being an old man at that position and Cote as his back up, that is not a very lethal dual from an opposing defensive point of view. The old man is getting slow and old and ailing and wont want to stick his nose in the pile too much anymore and his back up is fodder at best.

    • stampland // March 21, 2017 at 11:26 pm //

      actually nik..cote is not his backup.Anthony Woodson is.You are right Massam could very well be in his final year. Calgary could go back to making this an import position after this year.again Calgary will transition this easily infact many times last year to play an import at RB during the course of games..when yu have 8 starters you can do that nikky

  14. stampland // March 16, 2017 at 11:07 am //

    Yes it is possible Hall will start over Quinn Smith ,hopefully Turner can return later this season. If oline injuries become a problem again and Smith has to switch sides Calgary will have no choice but to play Hall. I wonder what stamps are thinking draft wise? Take best player available or draft for need?Might not be a bad idea to think about a def tackle

  15. stampland // March 16, 2017 at 11:09 am //

    or does Ben D’augulair step up ?

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