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.