Ratio round-up: Lions, Esks, Stamps

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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.

About the author

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.

By John Hodge

3DownNation is a website dedicated to covering the CFL and Canadian football.




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