The Montreal Alouettes held a mini-fire sale Wednesday afternoon, and Ottawa Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins did some shopping.
While some may scoff at the price of a second-round pick for a player in the last year of an expiring contract (and one who’s made no secret of his NFL ambitions), even if Ackie is only a member of the Redblacks for the rest of the 2018, Desjardins hit a home run with the deal.
First and foremost, the four year veteran is Canadian and addresses a huge need on Ottawa’s defence. With Antoine Pruneau currently on the six-game injured list, bringing in Ackie creates roster flexibility. He allows for an American to start elsewhere, either in the receiving corps or on the defensive line.
Even ignoring nationalities, Ackie provides roster flexibility. The former Laurier Golden Hawk could be plugged into Pruneau’s starting safety spot, or play at linebacker and allow the Redblacks to go with an American at safety. The point is, defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe has options.
Speaking of Thorpe, the fact that Ackie is familiar with his scheme and defence should allow for a seamless transition. That’s good news as Ackie’s play-making ability will reinforce an already stout defensive unit; the Redblacks’ defence currently allows 23.8 points per game, second best in the league behind only Calgary.
Ackie, currently fifth in the CFL with 81 tackles, also has two interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and a touchdown to his credit so far this season. For some context, the current leading tackler in the nation’s capital is Corey Tindal with 56.
Although the Redblacks have a history of getting decent production out of their second round draft picks (Connor Williams, Scott MacDonell, Jake Harty, Mikael Charland, Anthony Gosselin and Marco Dubois), their contributions have mainly been on special teams.
The fact that the Redblacks were able to acquire a Canadian, capable of starting on defence and playing special teams for just a draft pick makes this deal a huge win for Ottawa.
As things currently stand, the Redblacks are two wins away from locking down an East division crown. And once the playoffs start, Desjardins has to like his team’s odds. Ottawa has beaten every team currently in a playoff position minus Calgary.
The offence, when it’s in a groove, can hang with anybody. The defence, already formidable, just got faster and more versatile.
When gearing up for a Grey Cup run, subtracting a draft pick to add a ratio-breaking difference maker is always worth the gamble.