Camp is coming, so thought sharing some thoughts would be good in advance...look forward to hearing from everyone
Bodies in bodies out...there are a few on the line. I think we will see one or 2 vets pushed this year. Something that is actually pretty uncommon in football. IMO the biggest change we see this year....in 2016 we had just horrid Canadian depth and a lot was done to correct that in an uphill battle, and holes were addressed all over the place. by now that depth is fairly stable. It is not where they want it...but it is getting there and I rather like where it is heading overall. The last couple of years it was about finding athletes and making a physical team, but now holes are largely filled, so they have the luxury of being a lot more particular in who they sign. They also have players in the US actively seeking them out because they have so many camps and awareness is very high on the club...it is paying off. Now they are in a position where they can focus not just on athletes but guys with the pedigree...I know this has been a sore spot for many the past couple of years, and I think you are going to see a big transition this year because of he past 2 seasons of off-season work.
A few things to watch...
Same E will be transitioning to WILL. Interesting move, but I think he will excel at it. He is very fast with a great reaction time and has one of the best bursts on the D.
Wilkins will be a guy to watch. He is listed on the DL (DE)...don't be shocked if he gets rotations at MIKE. Very athletic guy who can play lots of spots...football smart. I expect him to push for a spot, though it may be a PR thing to start. They have depth with Antigha, but they like dressing 4, so he or Horton has a respectable shot...my bet is on Wilkins.
Eric Striker...ok...really really....um...really pumped to see this guy. There is one reason and one reason only he is not in the NFL...Size. Really surprised nobody has rolled the dice on him, but this could be an absolute gem. Any NCAA watchers out there have likely watched some level of Sooners games, and in such know Striker. He is fast and can hit, and is very football smart...to the point that he was working watching recruitment videos for the school because he can shift out the pretenders so fast. As a Sooner the man was everywhere. All LB spots...Safety, mainly playing in the middle. He is actually a bit of a reason I cringe at Sam E (who was awesome outside) inside...because I am hoping he competes to win that inside job at some point this season. If he can work on angles I can even see him as a SAM. Moncrief is a stud there, but Williams backing him is concerning. I fully expect him to pick up the game and the D quickly and be a guy who can rotate all over if needed. he is a bit shorter than ideal, but is a guy I will be watching.
The one contention at LB is they don't have a bulky guy outside of Geter for big formations. I think they are willing to live with that.
There is going to be a Canadian at LB....and that is apparently going to be primarily at WIL. This is probably a better fit for Hurl...and while I think he is likely to win a starting gig there, I am not sure it will last the full season. Chevrier will push him there, as will some others. I can see a 3-4 where both Sam E and Judge are in the middle as well. I think the idea is that Judge will shift and take center while E hops to the edge some or spies.
I had assumed Bond would compete at OT...apparently not the case, though I am sure he will get some reps. No question...best OG in the CFL and it is not even close. It does mean potentially only 2 nationals on the OL...which is a bit shocking. There could be potential that LaBatte moves to center. Murphy has stated that they see LaBatte finishing his career as a C...so yeah. This would likely leave Clark battling Bladek at RG....IMO Bladek wins. Now yeah, Bond may simply play RG...but you want your best OLman on the blind side...or do you? If JSJ can compete for RT then Bond lands on the right to support him.
Nick James...I know he did well...but he needs to show up more game ready. This will be interesting to watch, because with Mrabure gone they no longer have a Canadian DE they can rotate in on a 3-4 to get James in the game unless someone is being converted. That would mean bring 2 Canadian LBs in if you want to play James in a 3-4. He may not have a home....which is a bit surprising to say...but not sure they hold onto him for the 30-35% they play 4 down linemen. Would love him around, but the roster is only so deep...potential ratio casualty. one thing that potentially changes this...if JSJ can step up as OT and give ratio flexibility. I am wondering if they feel Adusei is ready to take the step as the beast to replace him. Adusei often played a little soft for his size in practice, but if he can step up aggression...
WR...we are going to see 2 nationals when Messam is not in. I don't think initially the idea was to look at him as a feature back, but it is looking more and more the case. This, to me, is a failure by staff not to be in a position to start 3 on the OL...even as dominant as Bond is. not saying it can't work...but sure removes flexibility. Bright side is there will be more competition at WR, because they likely need to dress 3 Canadians every game. Again...unless JSJ displaces Coleman....who has played solid at RT. Bagg, Bailey and....Harty likely.
Does Thigpen make it out of camp? He is sitting the first 2 games....he is going to need to shine in camp....without PEDs. Jones is already established as a parkplug...but so is Thigpen...and of course Owens. This is still a young team...so Owens likely sticks. Do they really keep all 3?
Jordan Williams-Lambert also impressed in mini. He will likely be lining up to push B Grant. A Grant will likely push Holley. Expecting some battles there.
secondary...Johnson is actually going to need to fight it out. He is likely to land in a rotational duty. Gainey is going to eyeball the NFL next year and there is interest...they need to land a couple guys on the PR. It was an above average showing for DBs in the mini-camp...unfortunately a couple of the premier DBs and one WR from them are presently not signed, asking for release. Will be looking closely at this for the first few days of camp.
Going to be exciting...the team plays after a week of camp. This means they will have solid footage early. Will be interesting.