Canadian content: Calgary Stampeders

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Canadian content is an off-season series I’ve created to look at how each club deployed its starting nationals in 2019 and project how they may do so in 2020. This information can give us an idea of how teams will approach the draft in May.

We’ve already looked at the B.C. Lions and today’s stop brings us to the Calgary Stampeders.

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

Calgary’s national players accounted for 128 starts in 2019, slightly more than the required 126. The team fielded eight Canadians twice following an injury to American centre Ucambre Williams.

Below is a breakdown of how the Stamps fielded their national starters last season. Players who appear at multiple positions have been marked with an asterisk.

Running back

Ante Milanovic-Litre (2)

Wide receiver

Michael Klukas (11)
Hergy Mayala (6)
Richie Sindani (1)*

Slotback

Richie Sindani (11)*
Juwan Brescacin (4)
Colton Hunchak (3)

Guard

Ryan Sceviour (18)
Shane Bergman (17)
Justin Lawrence (1)*

Centre

Justin Lawrence (6)*

Defensive tackle

Derek Wiggan (18)

Middle linebacker

Cory Greenwood (12)

Safety

Royce Metchie (17)
Courtney Stephen (1)

The Stampeders deployed their Canadians consistently in 2019 with the only change coming after an injury to Cory Greenwood. His absence was balanced with an extra national on offence at either centre or running back.

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

I wouldn’t expect much to change with Calgary’s ratio in 2020, though improved depth along the offensive line should help with club remain flexible in case of injuries.

Sean McEwen signed with the team as a free agent after an excellent four-year stint with the Toronto Argonauts. The former Dino will allow the Stamps to move Ucambre Williams to left tackle full-time and start three Canadian interior offensive linemen consistently.

Brad Erdos is another key addition at guard (sort of). The six-year veteran missed the entire 2019 season after suffering a torn patella tendon in May. Erdos being back allows former first-round pick Ryan Sceviour to return to a depth role as he continues his development.

In the receiving corps, the departure of Juwan Brescacin in free agency hurts. The former second-round pick was off to a sensational start in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury. Hergy Mayala came on strong late in his rookie season, however, which should help compensate for Brescacin’s absence.

Milanovic-Litre is a quintessential Canadian running back — a versatile bruiser capable of contributing on special teams. Though American Ka’Deem Carey can be penciled in as the team’s starting ball carrier, Milanovic-Litre is capable of filling in if called upon.

Derek Wiggan is an underrated starter at nose tackle, coming off 35-tackle, four-sack season in 2019. Former second-round draft pick Vincent Desjardins is a solid backup, but I’d expect Calgary to add more help at defensive tackle in the draft as veterans Ese Mrabure and Jabar Westerman weren’t retained during free agency.

Royce Metchie was a pleasant surprise in 2019, his first as a starter. The Guelph product made 48 tackles and three interceptions last year and has started building a reputation as one of the league’s hardest-hitting safeties. Dagogo Maxwell is a solid backup, while Malcolm Thompson and Nick Statz are young prospects.

The rest of Calgary’s national defensive players should contribute exclusively on special teams with two key exceptions. Defensive end Connor McGough and linebacker Fraser Sopik, though not projected as starters, are both quality rotational players who should factor in on defence in certain packages.

Summary

The Stampeders will enter the 2020 season with improved national talent along the offensive line, though they’ll miss receiver Juwan Brescacin. I’d look for the team to add depth at receiver and defensive tackle in May’s draft.

Receiver — Hergy Mayala, Richie Sindani (2)
Guard — Shane Bergman, Brad Erdos (2)
Centre — Sean McEwen (1)
Defensive tackle — Derek Wiggan (1)
Safety — Royce Metchie (1)