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.
Up next: the Calgary Stampeders.
Where they’ll likely play their Canadian starters:
Offensive line (3): Guards Shane Bergman and Brad Erdos, tackle Spencer Wilson
Receivers (2): Lemar Durant and Anthony Parker
Defensive tackle (1): Junior Turner
Linebacker (1): Alex Singelton
Safety (1): Tunde Adeleke
Backups and other possible starters: Offensive lineman Quinn Smith and Roman Grozman, receiver Juwan Brescacin, quarterback Andrew Buckley, defensive tackles Ese Mrabure, Derek Wiggan, and Randy Colling, safety Adam Thibault.
Analysis: We’ve saved the best for last because the Calgary Stampeders have the best Canadian talent in the CFL and plenty of depth – despite losing a ridiculous number of offensive lineman to career-ending injuries or retirements.
Bergman (58 starts), Erdos (35 starts) and Wilson (80 starts) are a solid trio on the offensive line with Grozman and Smith providing depth (though Grozman needs to get healthy.) Durant has been brought along slowly but seems poised for a breakout year while Parker has evolved into a consistent contributor.
On defence, Singleton has been an absolute beast in his two seasons and is the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player – as a Canadian. Turner struggled with injury issues last year but Mrabure is a borderline starter and Wiggan and Colling provide excellent depth. They could start two Canadian tackles but that would take Micah Johnson off the field. Adeleke had an outstanding rookie season (four starts and two punt return touchdowns) and Thibault and Berger are both solid vets.
We’ve listed eight Canadian starters but the Stamps could easily start nine and maybe ten: it’s the kind of depth and flexibility that allows them to start an American, Ucambre Williams at centre, and avoid overpaying for national players in free agency.
Needs and possible draft targets: The Stamps don’t really need anything so they’ll probably do what they usually do: draft another offensive lineman, receiver and/or defensive back then bring them along slowly behind the existing vets.
The final word: What’s remarkable about Calgary is how well they draft, develop and retain their own Canadian players: of the eight starters listed, every single one was drafted by the Stamps. They may have trouble winning the big game but their ability to cultivate national talent is one of the big reasons they are perpetually in contention.