Are the Eskimos Once Again A Starting QB Factory?

I was talking football the other day with a friend and he asked,"when was the last time the Eskimos developed a starting QB?"

I said, "What do you mean? Doesn't Mike Reilly count going from a QB3 to QB1 getting his opportunity to develop as a starter over Matt Nichols?"

Then I said, "What about Matt Nichols who also received starting reps and is now a starter in Winnipeg, don't the Esks get credit in part for developing him?"

I went on, "Didn't the Esks originallysign Jeremiah Masoli in 2012 as a QB4 to develop him as the next one before trading him in 2013 to the Ti-Cats? It was only one year and he was on the scout team, but it was a start in his development."

Finally, I said, "Now you have to admit James Franklin was developed in part by the Eskies getting starting reps."

That's 4 or 9 starting QB's right now in the CFL in which the Eskies have had a hand in developing. Now one can argue where these players are in their development with Reilly being the reigning MOP at the top of the heap. Both Nichols and Masoli have become solid starters with Franklin on the verge of ascending to the next level. Make no mistake Franklin will get there, just like Masoli and Nichols he will prove the naysayers wrong to become a solid starter.

There is no doubt the Eskies have kept the best of the bunch, but even though Reilly is playing at a MOP level and he has many years left. However, developing the next one is imperative. Danny O'Brien is the current QB3, but is he starter material worthy of developing? O'Brien is a safe bet, but not one with huge upside. Then again the naysayers said Nichols couldn't play and he was a QB3 for more than one year. However, the more intriguing player is Zach Klinenow in his second year as the QB4.

Coming out of High School in 2012 Kline was the nationally ranked #2 pro-style QB which led him to be recruited by former CFLer Jeff Tedford and the California Golden Bears. However, Cal went 3-9 in 2012 with big losses in the last two games leading to Tedford's firing and leaving Kline without a mentor that believedin him. He lost the Cal QB competitionto Jared Goff and that meant Klien bounced from program to program seeking mentorship, but could not find it in college.

The Eskimos and specifically Jason Maas has taken Kline on as a project, rebuilding him and shaping his raw skills into a pro QB, with the intent of Kline being the next one. Will Kline join the latest ranks of QB's developed by the Eskies? At 24 Kline has time and we will find out over the next couple of years, but he seems like the most likely candidate to be the Reilly understudy to be the next one.

So where and how does Kevin Glenn fit into your thesis?

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Kevin Glenn is not a product of the Esks … and is actually a waste of cleats. He is simply bet hedging by Sundy and is actually counterproductive as is Danny O’Brien who is also not an Esks find. The fact the Esks brought in Glenn shows a lack of confidence in O’Brien. Glenn is only in Edmonton to buy time to develop Kline or find another prospect to develop.

Zach Kline is worth developing, but he is a project right now in the sense that they need to rebuild his confidence and fill the void of some poor coaching he received. Kline was the #2 High School QB nationwide in the U.S. in 2012. Then it all fell apart for the kid with a coaching change.

I do not see Glenn being with the Esks next year nor O’Brien, which means Kline should ascend to QB3 and possibly QB2 and the Esks move on a young QB like a J.T. Barrett most likely.

By all accounts UDFA J.T. Barrett is in tough versus Taysom Hill at Saints camp and maybe gets a PR offer, but most likely it means that the Esks could invite him up for a look after Labour Day. Barrett has been on the Esks neg list for two years and would make for a solid prospect.

The Esks also have Shane Buechele on their neg list who is battling Sam Ehlinger for the QB1 spot of the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns are currently ranked 23rd in the NCAA and had 15 top commits. If Buechele wins out he will have three years to grow within Tom Herman’s program as Texas moves up to top 15 NCAA rankings much like Barrett did with Ohio State Buckeyes. While Buechele is a long shot in 2020 for the Esks, it really comes down to if he beats out Ehlinger.

Esk fans should keep in mind that Zach Kline was once a 5 star recruit to Cal under Jeff Tedford, but when Tedford was fired Kline had to compete for the job and lost toJared Goff. Buechele is only a 4 star recruit out of high school and is currently ranked as the #4 QB for the 2020 class year. He could suffer a similar fate ifEhlinger, a year younger than Buechele, wins the battle.

Esks also have Manny Wilkins of Arizona State top 20 QB for the 2019 draft year and small school QB Case Cookus of Northern Arizona in 2020 on their neg list.

Mike Reilly,Zach Kline andJ.T. Barrett orShane Buechelein 2020 would make for another strong QB corps, but it starts by moving Kline up the ranks by years end. Reilly will be 35 in 2020 and getting closer to retiring at this point and the Esks better have the next one taking reps by this point.