Breaking down the Bombers’ final cuts (and the team’s new depth chart)

The Bombers announced their final roster moves on Saturday and with those in mind, here’s how I see the Bombers’ depth chart heading into the regular season:

The big surprise coming out of training camp is how the Bombers will tackle the ratio in 2017. Winnipeg drafted Faith Ekakitie with the first overall pick in last month’s draft because they were expecting to start a national player at nose tackle. Following the emergence of Cory ‘Poop’ Johnson — and a disappointing showing from the club’s rookie international linebackers — the club will look to start Canadian Sam Hurl at middle linebacker.

Hurl was the subject of criticism when he was the club’s starting middle linebacker two seasons ago. Recording 52 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions that season, Hurl was often cited by fans as the primary reason the Bombers gave up too many yards on the ground. His performance in the club’s most recent preseason game did little to rebut this claim — in a half of work, Hurl recorded just two tackles while the Eskimos’ back-up running backs went off for 92 yards along the ground.

Still, the Bombers appear to have a very solid roster heading into the 2017 season. The quarterback trio of Matt Nichols, Dominique Davis, and Dan LeFevour is the best the club has had in well over a decade, while the team’s offensive line may be the best in the CFL. Seeing Kenny Stafford get released was a surprise (more on that here), but the emergence of Ryan Lankford and T.J. Thorpe made the expensive veteran expendable.

Brandon Alexander, the rookie out of UCF, should be an upgrade at field-side cornerback, while Roc Carmichael could push for work at field-side halfback behind Bruce Johnson when Maurice Leggett returns to full health. The biggest help for the club’s secondary would be an improved pass rush — something the club should get with the additions of Drake Nevis and Tristan Okpalaugo. Keep an eye on newcomer Jackson Jeffcoat — he’ll be a solid rotational piece.

The Bombers have enough Canadian depth to avoid changing the ratio unless they suffer an injury at running back to Andrew Harris. Should Harris go down long-term, expect Jake Thomas to start at nose tackle or Patrick Neufeld to become the starter at right tackle.

Other tidbits:

Putting Qadr Spooner on the practice roster is a risk for Kyle Walters. Teams can offer active roster spots to players on other team’s practice squads, meaning Spooner could theoretically bolt for another team that’s hungry for offensive linemen. The Lions got burned last year adding Dillon Guy and Ese Mrabure-Ajufo to the practice roster, both of whom signed with the Riders … Calgary put 2017 second round pick Julan Lynch on their practice roster as part of the club’s final roster trim. Lynch, a lanky receiver out of Saskatchewan, was seen by many scouts as the third-best receiver available in the draft after McMaster’s Danny Vandervoort (B.C.) and Carleton’s Nate Behar (Edmonton). With Matt Coates and Addison Richards potentially starting the year on injured reserve, Kyle Walters should try to add Lynch to the Bombers’ active roster for week two … With Spooner, Felix Menard-Briere, and Abubakkar Conteh winding up on the Bombers’ practice roster, Faith Ekakitie will be the lone 2017 draftee to start the year on the club’s active roster … Kenny Stafford has already signed with the Edmonton Eskimos … When was the last time a CFL team started the season with just two international linebackers on the roster?

Stay glued to 3DownNation where the official 3Down cuts tracker and a ton of other breaking news and analysis will keep you informed as more roster moves roll in.

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 (253 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.

13 Comments on Breaking down the Bombers’ final cuts (and the team’s new depth chart)

  1. Didn’t Wild play (and play fairly well) in the middle in the past? Is he just a better option now at WILL given the personnel in the LB corps?

    What’s the history behind Cory Johnson’s nickname? One can guess, obviously… but best not to 🙂

    • Paul Bomber // June 19, 2017 at 11:06 am //

      Sadly for the Bombers, Wild has lost 2-3 steps since thinking he was good enough for the NFL.

      • SlipperyDee // June 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm //

        Wow I sure am glad someone else noticed this about Wild. He almost seemed dis-interested
        So with Wild, no MLB to speak of and Moe Leggett’s injury history it looks like the club failed big time.
        If I were to consider buying season tickets for this team I’d wait until after training camp!

      • Thanks Paul. I’m a Ticat fan but try to pay attention to the league as a whole.

  2. Riderfan Ron // June 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm //

    Wow, look at all the ex-Riders. I count 7.

    • Paul Bomber // June 19, 2017 at 11:12 am //

      8 or 9 team league… you’re going to get that. I’d be almost surprised if you couldn’t trace 7 or 8 or 9 players on the Riders that can be traced back to one team. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 3 ex Blue now wearing Green: Glenn, Labatte and Muamba and I’d be surprised if there weren’t another couple of “lessor” players who wore Blue at one time.

  3. SlipperyDee // June 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm //

    Their inability to find a quality MLB will haunt them as it has for 3 seasons now.
    Questions in the receiving corps ability to stay healthy (Adams,Dressler) and consistent (Denmark). Little talent when it comes to National receiver.
    Great QB situation with Nichols and Lefevor and the secondary’s depth has improved.
    Medlock will be the team’s best player and will once again steal some games.
    In short, this is a .500 team line up because of limited depth and perennial holes.

    • Paul Bomber // June 19, 2017 at 11:04 am //

      When I bought the hype, I was thinking 11 victories was the floor for this year. Now, I think .500 might be optimistic. I know… “Relax, it’s exhibition!” but that starting D was pushed around like a bunch of grammar school children by 2nd and 3rd string players from Edm.

  4. So sad that the team didn’t find a quality linebacker and national receiver over the past number of years. With the letting go of one of their biggest acquisitions in Kenny Stamford; they should have re-signed Kahil Bass in the first instance.

    • Paul Bomber // June 19, 2017 at 11:00 am //

      Actually, I think the mistake was in spending money on Ian Wild over Bass. Wild has not been the same since went to the States for that coffee and doughnut. I was a HUGE Wild fan, but he’s not the same player anymore… very average last year. I do know is Sam Hurl is a pylon, and so does every Offensive Coordinator in the league.

  5. pantsonfire // June 19, 2017 at 12:16 am //

    Have to agree with Slippery Dee-MLB a problem, National receiver depth thin, too many FG’s, not enough finish on drives – drives aided by near record T/O rate. Offence was 6th in net offence & pretty much stood pat. Okpalaugo & Nevis great additions but are we repeating history with Nevis? Cummings had so-so season beside Shologan after great season with Laing, a stud @ DT. Nevis was great with Laurent but how will he be with Thomas? Still not sold on Nichols. His stats were pedestrian & didn’t belong in the discussion with the likes of Mitchell, Reilly or Jennings in the West. Hasn’t the arm.

  6. Paul Bomber // June 19, 2017 at 10:50 am //

    The Bombers are in for another LOOOOOONG season if their starting (yes… starting) front 7 are as bad as they looked in the Ex game against Edmonchuck last week. Watch for Messum to break the 2-Century mark against us if Coach Dickinson unleashes that beast. I was totally excited about our QB depth, but not anymore. Unless they can score 40/40 (forty points and forty minutes of possession) …. we are doomed. Doug Brown looks like he’s keeping in shape. Think maybe he might want to make a comeback?

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