I'm particularly interested in the defensive backs and linemen available in this year's college draft in May. Since the final rankings of draft eligible players have yet to be released, we have to use the September rankings as a barometer of who might help the Lions via the draft. There are always guys who don't pan out, have terrible attitudes, other guys selected late that overachieve and turn into solid pros. So at best its an educated guess as to whether draft picks could develop into starters or roster players. Team tend to prefer guys who grew up in their part of the country. Here are the top 15 prospects, courtesy of wikipedia:
1 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Offensive lineman McGill
2 Devon Bailey Wide receiver, St. Francis Xavier
3 David Foucault Offensive lineman Montreal
4 Pierre Lavertu Offensive lineman Laval
5 Adam Thibault Defensive back Laval
6 Beau Landry Linebacker Western
7 Max Caron Linebacker Concordia
8 Andrew Lue Defensive back Queen's
9 Sam Sabourin Linebacker Queen's
10 Derek Wiggan Defensive lineman Queen's
11 Kris Bastien Wide Receiver Concordia
12 Casey Chin Linebacker Simon Fraser
13 Kit Hillis Wide Receiver Saskatchewan
14 Josh Burns Defensive back Windsor
15 Matthias Goossen Offensive lineman Simon Fraser
First the DBs. Banks, Marsh and Phillips are certainly past their best-before dates. Management may look to upgrade their safety, a problem position for them since Barron Miles retired. Either Wally starts re-tooling the secondary this year, or next. Banks and Marsh are excellent tacklers and seem to have a season or two left in them. I'm not so sure about Ryan Phillips. I'm sure they'll focus on finding another good import DB or two at the free agent camps scheduled for April/May. But I doubt Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal will pass those guys up. If that doesn't happen BC would probably use their first round pick to select the best player available: Adam Thibault, DB from Laval. The only NI DB likely to be available in the second round is Josh Burns (Josh Who?), Windsor, not exactly a powerhouse school.
Too often in 2013 BC's offensive line struggled to give Lulay enough time to find open receivers. Injuries to Hameister Reis, Reed, Baboulis and Fabien forced BC to play backups at guard (Kabongo and Valli) and move Norman from his natural guard position to center. Result? Too many guys blitzing up the A gaps, too many sacks and hurries, Lulay either looking up at the sky or running for his life. He got injured on just such a play, which cost us any real chance of getting anywhere in the post season.
The only offensive lineman who is likely to be available in round two is Matthias Goossen from SFU. Buono might try to trade a starter to move up in the draft, to get one of the three offensive linemen who are projected to go in the first four picks. Big Ben Archibald is also getting long in the tooth and so slow you can time him with a calender. Who knows if Reed's bad back heals, so he may be done. The Leos will look to Jovan Olafioye to take the left tackle spot, if his chronic bad back allows him to do so. So they'll go looking for an import right tackle in the free agent camps. My preference would be to have Jovan at left tackle Norman at left guard, no idea who'll play center, Fabien at right guard and a one-eye, 6 foot seven, 325 pound monster at right tackle who eats blitzing ends for lunch. Losing Matthew Albright to Ottawa in the expansion draft leaves a hole in BC's future at O-line.
BC is fairly deep at defensive lineman but lack that dominating stud at rush end. Thus their low sack totals last year. Westerman and Taylor look to be starters at tackle, backed up by Jermaine Reid an Adrian Awasom. Chris Wilson looks too old and slow to be a decent rush end. Jordan shows signs of improvement and should be back for 2104. Khreem Smith will probably be back at contain end, but he's over 30 so he'll only be around until we find someone better. Keron Williams wasn't much of a factor last year, but maybe Mark Washington will find ways to get him sacks and hurries where Stubler could not. A big maybe for a player also past his best- before date.
The only NI defensive lineman available in the top 15 is Derek Wiggen from Queens, who will probably be scooped up by Ottawa before BC gets to pick third in the second round. BC lost NI DL Andrew Marshall to Ottawa in the expansion draft, another hole in BC's future along the lines that Wally will be looking to fill with a good prospect.
Who knows whether the ageless Paul McCallum will be back, leaving us with an unproven Steven Shott. Ditto for Paris Jackson, , Ben Archibald and Angus Reed.
Finally, the loss of Demarco to Ottawa leaves BC with Lulay and his rebuilt right shoulder, backed up by Buck Pierce and Christ Hart. We're one bad hit to Lulay's shoulder from trying to compete in the west with a brittle backup and an unproven third stringer. It could be a long year if Travis goes down again.
There may be a free agent or two available come springtime, but usually they're either too old or cost too much to interest Buono. He releases guys BEFORE they start to lose the edge, not after. Interested parties can pour through this list of CFL free agents, as of Jan 6th 2014:
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Dooger in Surrey :cowboy: