Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports CFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2016 CFL Draft. Today, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the focus. The Roughriders have seven total picks in the draft including the first overall pick.
As long as the 3-15 season felt for Rider fans, the off-season has been a roller coaster of emotions. It started with a complete front office and coaching staff over haul, followed by the loss of fan favorites Weston Dressler, John Chick, Tyron Brackenridge, and Weldon Brown; the additions of young CFL stars like Shawn Lemon, Justin Cappiciotti, Shamahd Chambers, and Curtis Steele; and the sudden retirements of Tearrius George, Maurice Price, and Bruce Campbell, even though the latter two did not play a down for the Riders. Safe to say Rider nation has never seen an off-season like this, and the Roughriders 2016 CFL draft will only make it more interesting.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 2016 CFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
This seems easy to predict, as it is no secret that all great CFL teams have or had great Canadian depth on their offensive linemen. After a 3-15 season, the Riders sit with the first over all pick and most mock drafts have offensive linemen Josiah St. John, Charles Vaillancourt, Michael Couture or Jason Lauzon-Seguin in the first five or six picks. If the Riders do not trade the first overall pick to gather more picks later in the draft, expect one of those four names to be on the Rider roster opening day.
It wasn’t too many years ago when the Riders trotted the “Canadian Air Force” onto the field consisting of Rob Bagg, Andy Fantuz, Jason Clermont, and Chris Getzlaf. Now, only Bagg is left, but there are the makings of possible return of the “High Flying Canucks”, with slot back Nic Demski in his sophomore year and the addition of Shamawd Chambers. While the Riders have no second round pick they do have two in the third round where they could take a gamble on a player with NFL aspirations like Tevaun Smith or pick a receiver who will be in camp this year like a Llevi Noel or Doug Corby.
The Riders have had a huge hole to fill since they let Craig Butler walk away in 2014. They tried to fill that hole last year in the Ricky Foley- Shea Emery trade which, due to injury, did not work well for the Riders, although they found a keeper in International LB Jeff Knox Jr.. A quick glance at the roster shows only one National linebacker, Nehemie Kankolongo. Unless the Riders are going to move Matt Webster or Graig Newman closer to the line on certain plays, they need more Canadian depth in the linebacking corps.