The Roughriders only had one pick in the first three rounds of the 2020 CFL Draft and never envisioned Kian Schaffer-Baker being available in the fourth.
Saskatchewan general manager Jeremy O’Day and director of player personnel Kyle Carson had done the background research on the University of Guelph product and the staff tabbed him with a first round grade.
“We felt like Schaffer-Baker was an extremely talented player. You could tell that he was very athletic, had size and length,” head coach Craig Dickenson said.
“When you looked at him there was just something about him and when we saw him in person you could definitely tell. We just felt like he was too good of a player to pass up, that’s why we drafted him.”
The six-foot-four, 195-pound receiver had to wait a year to debut in the pros after the 2020 CFL season was cancelled in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s clear from the impact he’s made as a rookie, Schaffer-Baker used the extra time to prepare for his first year in professional football.
“The kid is a stud. He belongs in this league and he’s a rookie. I told him: ‘There’s no need to think you’re a rookie, you’re a veteran as the weeks go on,” quarterback Cody Fajardo said.
The 23-year-old has quickly emerged as a trusted pass catcher for Fajardo. After dressing as a backup for his first two games, Schaffer-Baker earned a starting role — not just at any spot, but at the highly coveted short-side receiver position. Usually, the player lining up there is an American, however, Saskatchewan has been unafraid to put him there as a Canadian.
“He’s finally tapping into some of that ability he’s always had, but just didn’t realize it,” Dickenson said.
Schaffer-Baker officially started his ascent to star status by hauling in nine passes for 99 yards and one touchdown in the green and white’s Week 7 win against the Toronto Argonauts. His last catch of the game was most impressive, Fajardo threw him a receiver screen and he ran through three tackle attempts on the way to the end zone for a 24-yard major.
“We’re excited to see him keep getting better, excited to see him grow into an even better professional. He’s going to be a great player, so keep your eyes on him,” running back William Powell said.
“I’m really excited for how Kian performed. When you throw him a two-yard route and he takes it for a 20-yard touchdown, breaking 30 tackles, it feels pretty good as a quarterback and you want to get him the ball more,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo wishes he knew No. 89 was one yard short of a 100-yard performance, but it doesn’t matter because Schaffer-Baker has shown he can ‘Schaff and Bake’ with the pros on the Canadian field.