CFL Draft analysis: Eskimos set to build on an already solid foundation

As the CFL draft approaches, the best way to get a sense of what any given team might do is to assess their current Canadian talent. With that in mind, in the days leading up to the May 3 talent grab, we’re doing a deep dive on the state of each squad’s Canuck components that examine their starters, backups, special teams depth while also taking a look at what they need.

Here’s the past pieces on the Hamilton Tiger-CatsOttawa RedblacksMontreal AlouettesToronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Up next: the Edmonton Eskimos

Where they’ll likely play their Canadian starters:

Offensive line (4): Centre Justin Sorensen, guards Simeon Rottier and David Beard, tackle Matt O’Donnell
Linebacker (1) Adam Konar
Defensive end (1): Kwaku Boateng
Safety (1): Neil King
Corner (1): Arjen Colquhoun

Backups and other possible starters: Offensive linemen Jacob Ruby, Jean-Simon Roy and Mason Woods, receivers Natey Adjei and Nate Behar, linebackers Blair Smith and Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga, safety Josh Woodman, fullback Calvin McCarty.

Analysis: The Eskimos have made it clear they’d like to start five Canadian offensive lineman but will likely have to settle for four until some of their younger players like Roy (two games last year) and Woods (acquired in the trade that sent QB James Franklin to Toronto) develop. O’Donnell should be able to handle right tackle but he needs to stay healthy (he’s started 17 or more games four of five seasons) and how much the 34-year-old Rottier has left in the tank remains to be seen after he played in just four games last season.

Still, Edmonton has plenty of flexibility – we’ve actually listed eight starters instead of the league-required seven. Konar has been sensational when healthy (though that’s been an issue) and was a key re-signing in the off-season. Back ups Mulumba-Tshimanga (nine starts last year) and Smith (one start) provide good depth behind Konar. Colquhoun is a legit ratio-breaker at corner – he spent time in 2015 with the Dallas Cowboys – and is still just 25, though there isn’t much behind him. King is serviceable at safety while Woodman made four starts in his sophomore season.

Then there’s Boateng, who was initially projected as a first or second round pick in 2017 but fell to the Eskimos in the fifth round. He played in all 18 games last season, making one start and registering four sacks and could be poised for a breakout year.

Edmonton could also start a receiver, though neither Adjei (who led the team in special teams tackles) or Behar caught a pass last season and Kohlert had just seven catches in Calgary last year.

The Eskimos could also have two more Canadians in-house shortly. Highly-touted offensive lineman Justin Senior, taken just a pick before Boateng, has been released by the Seattle Seahawks and is a free agent – he was considered by many to be the best player in the 2017 draft who fell because of NFL interest. Receiver Tevaun Smith, taken eighth overall in 2016, signed a futures contract with the Jaguars in January but has played in just two NFL games over two seasons.

Needs and possible draft targets: The Eskimos traded the sixth overall pick to Hamilton on Wednesday for a second and a third rounder. That had previously dealt their second-rounder to the Ticats in the John Chick trade – not a great move, in retrospect – and their third-rounder to Toronto in the Franklin deal.

All those deals leaves them without a first-round pick in a top-heavy draft, though they do have the first pick in the second round (No. 10) then don’t select again until late in round three (No. 24.)

With the offensive in relatively good shape and some players in development, the Eskimos could use some help in the secondary. While taking Godfrey Onyeka or Jackson Bennett at No. 10 makes sense as would grabbing one of the top-end receivers like Rashaun Simonise or Daniel Petermann.

The final word: General manager Brock Sunderland had a tremendous first draft in 2017, one that will look even better if Senior – the only player selected who isn’t currently on the roster – shows up. Without a first rounder, things are a bit more tricky this year and the Esks need to be careful about dealing away picks if they are going to continue to have success building up their Canadian talent.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1457 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

15 Comments on CFL Draft analysis: Eskimos set to build on an already solid foundation

  1. Good Luck to my Alberta Rivals today.
    Lets keep a strong competition going in the battle of the Alberta titans again in 2018!

    • Green=Money // May 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm //

      They are, by far, the strongest team in Alberta. Currently and historically.

  2. greenenvy? // May 3, 2018 at 11:54 am //

    Sunderland did a tremendous job last year. I agree they need some backup help with Colquhon but at 10 they could get a good DB. Getting someone on OL isn’t a priority right now so they can get someone to develop at pick 24 if necessary. Sunderland looks like he knows what he’s doing.

    • Area51 // May 3, 2018 at 1:06 pm //

      Edmonton badly needs NI OL help. There’s absolutely nothing behind the starters.

  3. I think Edwards is taking a giant snort of happy gas before he writes the last paragraph of these pieces. Generally pretty good up until then, but …

    “General manager Brock Sunderland had a tremendous first draft in 2017”
    -first round draft pick Behar didn’t catch a pass all year
    -second round pick Roy only dressed for a couple of games, I believe
    -Mulumba played a lot, but only because he was pressed into action due to injures, and I believe those games coincided with the Esks big losing streak in the middle of the year.
    -Yes, he had a great 5th round, but you have to concede that there was a fair amount of luck in that.

    • greenenvy? // May 3, 2018 at 1:19 pm //

      I think the point is, RFD, that Sunderland picked up 4 of the 1st 12 ranked players in the draft. Luck? Maybe, but normally you only get 1 pick per round. So if you’re picking Senior ranked 1, Behar ranked 9, Mulumba ranked 6, Roy ranked 14 most of the year & is an OL pick, it makes sense that you leave Boateng out there, especially when they were committed to an all-import DL. Who’s to say they wouldn’t have made him their 6th pick if they had 6 picks like Hamilton in rounds 1 & 2? More the case of the other teams overlooking him for 5 & 1/2 rounds. I get your point but you constantly talk up the Rider picks & yet Boateng started at the end of last year & played well – 4 sacks in limited time. All the Rider hopefuls the past 2 years have not even started regularly. I think any team would be pretty happy ending up with players ranked 1, 6, 9, 12 in any draft. The chances of getting a good player down the road is greatly increased. Sunderland also got the #8 pick in Woods via trade. I give them credit. If you’re going to compare, the Eskimos have a very good contingent of Nationals.

  4. Area51 // May 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm //

    I really like Boateng at DE but Edmonton has to do something at Safety – – Neil King is horrifically bad.

    They’ve got very good NI starters – – other than terrible Neil King – – but the biggest issue for Edmonton is a major lack of talent among the non starting NIs.

    Specifically on the OLine where Joke Ruby and Mase Woods were essentially picked off the scrap heap. So useless they were unplayable in Montreal and Toronto.

    Rory Kohlert is better suited to selling hotdogs than he is to playing professional football.

    Eskimos really need to find at least a couple of guys who can step in and at least contribute on ST immediately. Especially with Tuck being done for the year. That’s why the trade with Hamilton made so much sense.

  5. greenenvy? // May 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm //

    Tuck was a big loss for Edmonton. Woods is 23 & raw so who knows. Fully agree – Kohlert has been a joke the past few years. Their ST’s haven’t been good for a few years but ranked high in KO Returns & KO coverage last year. They have a good kicker & punter. Disagree on King. Played well until hurt last year & a definite improvement over Cauchy Muamba though that’s a really low bar. Ruby actually ended the season as their 6th lineman. If I’m not mistaken they usually only dress 6. Groulx was let go. Ruby was poorly used in MTL as he was supposed to be their LT almost out of the gate. I’ll reserve judgement on him. Esks may coach him up. They’ve done very well developing their young OL in recent years so who knows but he has been a bust so far. Beard is a good example. Play him sparingly & now he’s a starter. Played very well when taking over last year. Good comments, 51.

  6. White Horse // May 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm //

    I am taking a toss-up for first in the west. Stamps/Esks, Wpg, Riders crossover, BC.
    East…Argos, TiCats… Redblacks and Mont out of playoffs.
    You read it here. Let’s get the season started!

  7. I think Drew has it wrong with O’Donnell. He makes an excellent guard, but a poor tackle. He has the frame to be a tackle, but not the feet. He is too slow. He hasn’t played tackle in the last few years. The Eskimos also have 4 import OL on their roster, which makes it seem as though they are going to continue with two import tackles like they have done for the past number of years. Moving Beard back into a backup spot with O’Donnell starting at RG improves the level of backup linemen substantially. They also continue to have 7 starting Canadians.

    • Area51 // May 3, 2018 at 3:16 pm //

      Agree about Fatty O’Donnell being badly out of his league trying to play OT.

      Had a good laugh at the suggestion Edmonton could start five NIs on the OLine.

  8. White Horse are you high? Stamps fighting for first? There is way to many holes to be filled on that team. They will be fighting with BC for last in the west this year.

    • Area51 // May 3, 2018 at 3:14 pm //

      You’re living in a dream world, my friend.

      Mike Reilly is unquestionably the best QB in the league. As long as he stays healthy, there’s ZERO chance of Edmonton being last in the West.

      • I was talking about Calgary fighting with BC 😉
        I have no doubt that Edmonton will be either first or second. They are a great team. Reilly is an absolute beast.

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