2013 CFL Expansion Draft Preview

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The 2013 season is over and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the new champions of the CFL but all eyes are now turning to a team in the East. The CFL will introduce the newest franchise in the league when the Ottawa Redblacks make their debut next year. As the Redblacks prepare for their first season there are a number of very important steps that need to happen first. The organization needs to be created as the structure from the top to the bottom has to be started from scratch. The Redblacks have already gone through much of this process as they have placed many of their top people. Former Montreal Assistant GM Marcel Desjardins was named the first general manager for the franchise. Just last week the Redblacks would name their first head coach with former Calgary Defensive Coordinator Rick Campbell getting the job. The top positions have been filled and the rest of the organization continues to be brought in as the team prepares for its first season. The Redblacks would also bring in their first players early in 2013 when they would participate in their first CFL draft. Only allowed to take NCAA redshirt juniors that would participate in the 2013 NCAA football season for four rounds the Redblacks would load up on lineman to establish a solid base on for the team. They would then wait for the offseason as the franchise would become official as of 12:00 am November 25th. They would then be allowed to sign free agents and bring in more players to be a part of the first version of the franchise. They would bring in a number of players this week when they signed their first QB in Matt Faulkner when the product of San Jose State University would become the first signed player for the new team. Later the Redblacks would sign running backs Michael Hayes and Eric O’Neal. The first players are a part of the new franchise but there is plenty more work to do and that is where the Expansion Draft comes in. On December 16 the Ottawa Redblacks will get the chance to add some veteran CFL presence to the team. They will have three rounds to select 8 imports and 16 non-imports from other CFL teams. This will help to fill out the rest of the roster along with the CFL draft and other free agent signings. More importantly the Redblacks will be adding players who have CFL experience and in some cases will be able to pick up some true veterans to help the young team. The other CFL teams will have their chance to select a number of players that they want to keep. Every CFL team will be able to protect only 1 QB from their team along with 10 import players and 12 non-import players (6 in both round 2 and round 3). These players will not be released to the public but they will be the players that teams believe are the building blocks for their team and players that they cannot win without. Of course tough decisions will have to be made as many teams have a number of great players but will have to let some of them go into the draft and risk losing them to the Redblacks. These decisions will be important as some teams will let their veterans go while saving their young stars and others will do the opposite. It is the start of a new season as the CFL begins revving up to another year even six months in advance. All eyes will be on the draft as favorite players will be lost and the newest franchise will introduce the faces of the franchise for years to come.

 

B.C. Lions:

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The Lions are one of the strongest teams in the CFL they continue to be a team that will make an appearance in the playoffs. The main reason for this is that the Lions are a deep team that consistently sees players step up when they need to. This can make the Lions a team that could be targeted for the Redblacks. They hold a number of great veterans and some young stars that could easily see themselves in Ottawa next year. Of course there are the players that will be going nowhere as a handful of players are too valuable to be let go and will likely make their way to the protected list. Whoever is lost from the Lions will be missed but it does not seem that they will lose enough players to truly be affected next year.
Potential Losses:
Thomas DeMarco, QB (A young QB who showed his worth last year in relief of Travis Lulay)
Buck Pierce, QB (The veteran QB who could be a great presence for a new team)
Shawn Gore, SB (Versatile slotback that may just come short from making the protection list)
Lin J Shell, DB (Veteran DB that may be too old to make the protection list but is still effective)
Key Protected Players:
Travis Lulay, QB (There is no question that if anyone is making the protection list it is Lulay)
Adam Bighill, LB (The leader and cornerstone of their defence that they cannot let go)
Andrew Harris, RB (He is a ratio buster as a great Canadian running back)

 

Calgary Stampeders:

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The Calgary Stampeders are one of the top teams in the West and they continue to fight until the end for the top spot every year. Heading into the expansion draft they are in a unique position as they are not the deepest team but are very skilled. The Stamps may not lose a lot of their best players in the expansion draft but they are almost guaranteed to lose one of their QBs. The quarterbacks are the biggest story of the expansion draft and the Stampeders have three of the best. They will lose either the up and coming but injury prone Drew Tate, the veteran Kevin Glenn, or the young and full of potential Bo Levi Mitchell. Whoever they protect they are guaranteed to lose at least one more as the Redblacks look for an arm under centre.
Potential Losses:
Drew Tate, QB (He has shown his potential to be great but injuries may put him up to be taken)
Kevin Glenn, QB (An aging veteran he has the experience and can find ways to win)
Rob Maver, P (The Stamps will likely keep Paredes leaving Maver up to be their kicker)
Key Protected Players:
Jon Cornish, RB (The 2013 MOP is not going anywhere as he is the gear that turns this offence)
Charleston Hughes, DE (He is the head of the pressure on the Stamps defence and is not leaving)
Bo Levi Mitchell, QB (He has the most upside and could be the best option for the Stamps)
Rene Paredes, K (The best kicker in the game right now is something that the Stamps want to keep)

 

Edmonton Eskimos:

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The Eskimos are a team that is struggling to get anything going and they are hoping that some of their young depth does not get taken. They have been at the bottom of the league for the last two years and with a new coach they are waiting to see who will go ahead with them next season. Do not expect them to lose many players in the expansion draft as the best players they have will all be protected leaving few more to be taken. The Eskimos could end up protecting everyone that has done anything for the team. The Eskimos should not expect to lose many of their players although a number of them will remain in Edmonton as the Redblacks are not very likely to look to them to find their next superstar.
Potential Losses:
Matt Nichols, QB (Plenty of potential will make the Redblacks give him a serious look)
Hugh Charles, RB (He can be a gamebreaker and a good veteran running back for a new team)
Key Protected Players:
Mike Reilly, QB (They found their QB in Reilly as they will begin to build around him)
Fred Stamps, WR (He is the superstar on the offence and a player that can change a game)
J.C. Sherritt, LB (He is the linchpin of the defence and is a player that will lead a new defence)

 

Hamilton Tiger-Cats:

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Making the Grey Cup in 2013 was a great accomplishment for the Ti-Cats but getting blown out in the Grey Cup was not. They are now looking to recover and are hoping that some of their key pieces will remain in the attempt to get back to the Grey Cup. The Ti-Cats are another team that does not have the depth as many others but the players they have are very good. They will protect many of these players but there will be a few players that could have an impact for the Redblacks. The Ti-Cats will likely not lose some top players but some role players could be taken without a lot of fanfare and will have an effect next season.
Potential Losses:
Dan LeFevour, QB (he showed that he has the ability to lead but inexperience leaves him exposed)
Peter Dyakowski, OL (The Smartest Man in Canada could be out of Hamilton as age becomes a factor)
Frederic Plessius, LB (Young and inexperienced but with loads of potential)
Key Protected Players:
Henry Burris, QB (He is the veteran that helped the Tabies to the best offence in the league)
C.J. Gable, RB (Young and full of potential he is the future of this offence)
Andy Fantuz, WR (The biggest threat on the offence Fantuz is going nowhere)

 

Montreal Alouettes:

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The Montreal Alouettes have been the model franchise in the CFL for the last decade as they are one of the most successful franchises in that time. They have done so with some great depth and the next man up attitude but are in a transition right now. The Alouettes have depended on Anthony Calvillo for years but with potential retirement looming the Alouettes are wondering if they need to look to the future. They will have some tough decisions to make in the expansion draft as they must decide if they want to protect Calvillo or the future of their team with Calvillo not announcing his official retirement yet. This will be the centre of the expansion draft for the Alouettes as they will protect many of their best players with some young talent being available as the Als are a veteran team.
Potential Losses:
Tanner Marsh, QB (Marsh Madness may be enough for the Redblacks to take him as their QB)
Steven Lumbala, RB (A young Canadian running back could become a ratio buster)
Anwar Stewart, DL (Veteran defensive lineman who is great at giving pressure)
Key Protected Players:
Troy Smith, QB (With Anthony Calvillo likely in retirement the Als will protect their future)
Chip Cox, LB (Defensive player of the year last year Cox will not be leaving)
Jamel Richardson, WR (He may have been hurt much of last year but he will be back)

 

Saskatchewan Roughriders:

ssk_riders

The Grey Cup Champions are a hard team to predict when it comes to the expansion draft as many of their players may not be available. With a championship under their belts many players will not return to the CFL immediately as they will look to the south for a bigger payday. This makes many decisions difficult as they can protect many players only to see them leave for at least the first half of the season. Then again if they do not protect them and their players do return from the NFL they will not be returning to the Riders if they are not protected. It makes everything tougher for the Riders as they look to keep the base of their championship team and hoping to make another run at the Grey Cup.
Potential Losses:
Drew Willy, QB (He showed potential and could be a good QB for the Redblacks)
Taj Smith, WR (They can’t protect all of their good receivers and Boyd is a great deep threat)
Diamond Ferri, LB (Age may make him available and he would be a good veteran addition)
Ricky Foley, DE (Two Grey Cups in the last two years is something the Redblacks will want)
Key Protected Players:
Darian Durant, QB (Inconsistency plagued him but he is now a Grey Cup Champion)
Chris Getzlaf, WR (Canadian MOP in the Grey Cup he will be protected)
John Chick, DE (Adding him last year made one of the best lines and he will stay)

 

Toronto Argonauts:

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The Toronto Argonauts were not the same team this year but they are going through some transition this year. Two coaches are gone and the Argos are hoping that they can get past the injuries of 2013 to get back to the Grey Cup next year. There are some very easy choices for the Argos this year as they have a handful of great players that will not be left to the Redblacks. Players like Ricky Ray, Chad Owens, Dontrell Inman, Khalif Mitchell, and Marcus Ball will be going nowhere in the expansion draft. The difficult decisions are on the players that are considered backups but that the Argos need. The Argos showed that they do not have a lot of depth last year and losing some of that limited depth could mean trouble.
Potential Losses:
Zach Collaros, QB (Very likely the future QB of the Redblacks as he has the mobility and arm)
Chad Kackert, RB (Injury problems may make the Argos move on and give the Redblacks a great RB)
Herve Tonye-Tonye, LB (He was not on the field all the time but showed a lot of potential in 2013)
Key Protected Players:
Ricky Ray, QB (The most accurate passer in CFL history there is no way they don’t protect him)
Chad Owens, WR (2012 MOP and biggest weapon on the offence there is no way they let him leave)
Aaron Maybin, LB (A recent signee Maybin has plenty of potential and the Argos want to see it)

 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers:

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a team much like the Edmonton Eskimos as they are heading into the 2014 season hoping that changes can bring them out of the basement. New coach Mike O’Shea will look to bring the Bombers out of the bottom of the league in 2014 but will have to deal with a lot of important decisions in the expansion draft. The biggest one could be the decision they make at QB as the Bombers have not had the best luck with their QBs. They have made little to no decisions on their QB rotating from game to game but in the expansion draft their decision could be made for them. They will only protect one of their QBs while the other could be lost to the Redblacks along with a number of other role players on the team.
Potential Losses:
Justin Goltz, QB (He has not been given the chance to prove what he can do yet)
Will Ford, RB (The Bombers have a good record with RBs but might not be able to protect Ford)
Alex Suber, DB (Veteran defensive back that can bring experience and veteran presence to the team)
Key Protected Players:
Max Hall, QB (He very well might be the man they want for the job as he showed potential last year)
Henoc Muamba, LB (A big part of the defence Muamba is the man they want to build around)
Clarence Denmark, WR (He is one of the few big stars on the offence for the Bombers)

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