O-line assessment

This is a very well written assessment of the Eskimo o-line heading into 2007, done by Opus at esksfans.com...

(I'll start from left to right)
Joe McGrath LT (26 yrs old) - Has improved each year he's played in the league, which has been tough on him considering he has been flip flopped through his first three years with the Esks. He started in 2004 playing mostly at the LT spot, but was moved to LG when Beaton came back for the 2005 Championship season and moved again in 2006 back to LT. The fact he has played at least a year in each position at the pro level gives him flexibility that is all too necissary in the CFL where teams usually try their best to field an all NI line. His progression not just over the last 3 years, but over the 2006 campaign was noticable. He has quick feet and can play physical on the left side, but could still learn to develop his nasty side to become even better. It usually takes at least 3 years for a NI O-Lineman to really come into his own, if that is the case that holds true, Joe could be one of the top LT's in the CFL for years to come.

Dan Comiskey LG (34 yrs old) - The elderstatesman on the Esks line now, Dan brings a level of experience that this line still needs. He hasn't aged to the point that his game has begun to decline. He is still one of the better guards in the league and should be more than servicable for at least a couple more seasons.

Tim Bakker C (29 yrs old) - Likely the weakest link on the Eskimos Line coming into 2007 (unless the Eskimos decide to replace Roundtree with a NI). That said, he's a steady contributor. He's not stellar at anything except perhaps his reliability. You'll get an honest effort each game and he's proven to be very durable throughout his career. He does have 7 years experience in the league and has provided at least yeoman service wherever he has been.

Raleigh Roundtree RG (31 years old) - It was a shame the Esks left him on the sidelines as long as they did in 2006. The mandate of trying to fit Carson or McLane into this spot was an error myself (and another former member) noticed early on at camp last year. There is a reason this guy started 47 games in the NFL; he has size, strength, and experience. His insertion into the Eskimos starting lineup did 2 significant things in 2006, it solidified the RG position and also aided the line on Kabongo who was under fire for assignments missed by the Carson/McLane tandem.

Patrick Kabongo RT (27 years old) - What to say about this guy other than that he blocks out the sun. He's a mammoth RT and has only started one season. He's had some highlights...and he's had some low lights. Sometimes people make a big stink about a guy moving from one side of the line to another and having it effect his game. Kabongo though made his switch from the defensive line to the offense. He's only even been trained at the position for two years and has had some excellent success against some of the quickest and dangerous DE's to play the game. He still has a lot to learn, technique wise and overall experience learning the moves employed by the various opposition ends he'll face, but IMO he has grown far ahead of schedule. He could lose some weight from his torso to give him better balance, but he too could be a dominant force for years to come on the Esks O-Line.

Those are the starting 5 from the end of last season. was clear not just to anyone that watched with an intent eye that they were improving, but it also showed in the stats as well.
*In the course of the last 6 games they played, they raised their avg yards rushing by 31 yards/game.

Over the final 4 games they had rushed for 685 yards in 4 contests, that an average of 171.25 yards per game. Now also keep in mind that for two of those games the backfield consisted of our #2 back and the final game saw a good chunk of time dedicated to our depth ST back NI Jered Winkel.

Over the final five, they had 753 yards for an average of 150.6. Over the last six it was 840 for an average of 140 yards / game.

That says to me that these guys were/are getting better.

So if you're not worried, or the rest of the league 'aint worried......fine. Maybe you will be in the near future.....maybe you won't. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but I wouldn't be dismissive just yet.

IMO the biggest problem now is depth. Carson and McLane have both been weighed and measured and left wanting. I think it will be very important to the team (and interesting to see if employing a full time NI scout in Dan MacKinnon pays off) in finding some new NI guys to develop behind the starters. A high draft number should help somewhat, but it's unlikely that we'll find a guy that can come in and play right away. The best case scenario would be couple high picks dedicated to the O-Line so they can develop for at least a year before thoughts of suplanting the likes of Comiskey, Bakker, or the import Roundtree. There is also the other line of thought about using an import elsewhere in line if starting talent can be found at other positions. It has been far too long since we've had ourselves one of those devestating NI linebackers in the mold of a Larry Wruck.

Any word on Kevin Lefsrud? The last I heard anything about him, he was actually considering coming out of "retirement" to join the Eskimos for the last few games of the season last year, until he broke his wrist on the farm.

In my opinion, he was the Eskimos best Olineman in 2005, before the contract dispute made him retire. I believe he was making $85,000 per year, and the Eskimos said they have never paid an Olineman more than $85,000, and weren't going to now. Considering that BC just signed their best Olineman from last year (a player with ONE year experience) for a reported $150,000 per year, perhaps it is time for the Eskimos to loosen the purse straps. I know the ignorant Eskie haters truly believe that the Eskimos have a bottomless budget to outspend every team, but that simply isn't true. Lefsrud is still a young man, in his prime. If the Eskimos offered him enough to make it worth his while to hire help for his farm, he would return.

It would be nice to see Lefsrud back in Edmonton in 2007. He would sure add some quick talent and depth to this area of the game.

I heard Lefsrud was going to return but not with the Eskimos. My crystal ball has him signing with Montreal.

That would be surprising, and dissapointing. Kevin's farm is only about 90 minutes from Edmonton, so one of the attractions for him to remain in Edmonton is the easy commute to go work on his farm on the days off. Another team would have to offer him alot more than the Eskies for him to make that kind of move!