Tuesday Takes - January 30, 2018 - Saskatchewan Roughriders Wide Receivers
Published: Monday, Feb 19th 2018, 3:30 am
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
Going into 2018, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have one of, if not THE most dangerous group of receivers in the CFL. Led by a trio of 1,000 yard receivers and a former Most Outstanding Player, there really isn't a weakness in this receiving unit. A good mix of veterans and young players make this group explosive, reliable and should make Zach Collaros' transition to the Riders that much easier.
If there is any upgrade needed in the group, it would be with the Canadians. A couple important players are free agents and that could affect what Chris Jones does with the ratio this year. Let's take a look at who is currently on the Riders roster and what to expect in 2018.
Albert Awachie – Out of the University of Toronto, Awachie spent most the 2017 season on the Practice Roster and will likely battle to do the same in 2018. He will be in tough, but could see some more reps in Training Camp if Nic Demski and/or Devon Bailey don't return.
Rob Bagg – The longest serving Rider, Bagg has been told he'll be a Rider as long as he wants to be. My personal favourite player, Bagg had a bit of a disappointing season last year in terms of yards, but he is the heart and soul of this team and does all the little things like block and run routes to free up other receivers. I expect more of the same in 2018. With all the dangerous American receivers the Riders have, there isn't as much pressure put on the Canadians, so hopefully that allows Bagg to run free a few times and get some big gains.
Devon Bailey – A tall, young Canadian receiver, Bailey is set to be a free agent on February 13th. In very limited time in 2017, Bailey impressed with 5 catches for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bailey has all the tools to be a legit starting receiver in the CFL, so I really hope he comes back to Riderville this year. With question marks surrounding Nic Demski and Rob Bagg not putting up the yards he used to, Bailey has a real chance to be a playmaker in this offense. If he's back, I expect him to rotate with Rob Bagg in the starting lineup.
Nic Demski – Another free agent, Demski just couldn't stay healthy in his time as a Rider. As much as the Riders can use the help with Canadians, I just don't see him back in 2018. He's from Manitoba and I fully expect the Bombers to make a serious offer for him and I think he ends up there. I just don't see how he fits into Chris Jones' plan with all these elite American receivers here in Riderville.
Antwane Grant – After showing quite well in the preseason, A. Grant spent most of the season on the Practice Roster, but did get into a few games when injury hit the group. He'll be in tough to make the roster, but he can definitely fill in should an injury hit one of the other Americans.
Duron Carter – Carter just re-signed with the Riders recently and I and the rest of Ridernation couldn't be happier. Last year's MOP nominee is not only one of the most talented receivers in the league, he can return kicks and of course, pick off Bo Levi Mitchell and return it for a TD. Carter will be doing more of the same in 2018 and should be Collaros' favourite receiver.
Bakari Grant – Grant had a breakout season in 2017, recording career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who most fans had pegged at best a 6th receiver, and many thought he would be cut in Training Camp. Not only is Bakari an important part of the team, he's even better in the community. Bakari will be back as the team's 1C receiver beside Carter and Naaman Roosevelt. Grant is more of the possession type receiver, but can break off big gains if he gets a bit of room. We should be happy to have him back.
Caleb Holley – Probably the most underrated receiver on the team, Holley has shown his big play ability in each of his 2 years with the Riders. The only thing holding Holley back is the ratio. If the team can find a way to get 5 American receivers on the field at one time, Holley will see a lot of action. If Carter plays more on Defense this year, Holley will slide into his spot on Offense.
Chad Owens – The most puzzling signing from 2017, Owens was held out until the final few weeks of the season after recovering from a broken foot. Owens immediately showed his worth as the elite receiver he still is. 2018 will see Owens.
Denzel Radford – Radford played more at Safety than he did at receiver last year, but made his impact on Special Teams. Barring injury, Radford is looking like Training Camp fodder and at best a Practice Roster player. Nothing wrong with him, but there simply isn't room for him.
TJ Thorpe – Speaking of no room, the same can be said for Thorpe. Thorpe looked good in his time in Winnipeg last year before being a surprise cut. The Riders scooped him up and we will see him at Training Camp. Much like the rest of the backup American receivers, he'll be in tough to make the team.
Mitchell Picton – The Riders 5th round draft pick in 2017 returned to school last year and then joined the Riders on the road in the playoffs to get a feel for the CFL. Picton will make the team in 2018 and has the potential to be a Chris Getzlaf type of receiver for the Riders. This is the beginning of what should be a promising career in the CFL for Picton and I'm excited to see how he shapes up in Training Camp. He's the player in Training Camp I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing about the most.
Naaman Roosevelt – The final member of the Presidents of the Riders receivers, Roosevelt has quietly become one of the most elite players in the CFL. Roosevelt will again be a lethal weapon in the Rider offense and should finish near the league lead in receiving yet again.
Josh Stanford – Stanford was an 8th round draft pick in 2016 and only had 1 catch last year, but did get in on Special Teams late in the season. With the question marks around the Canadian receiver situation going into 2018, Stanford will get a fair chance to show what he has and has as good a shot as any to make the 46 man roster.
The Riders are absolutely stacked at receiver and as mentioned will help Zach Collaros make his transition to the Riders much more easy. Chris Jones has made it clear the last few years that he has no problems getting receivers and finds it important to load up and relieve some pressure on the QB. They have possession receivers, big play guys and guys that aren't afraid to block downfield. It's quite the mix of receivers and like I said, probably the best and most deep receiving unit in the CFL. This is the least of the worries of the Riders and we are set here for years to come.
Going into last year, the team was loaded at receiver and moved Armanti Edwards to Toronto for OL Peter Dyakowski, so I can see another move made involving a receiver to bring in help elsewhere, maybe on the defensive line. As solid and deep as the Riders receiving group is, I don't think there is a way they can keep them all. It's just a matter of who is the odd man out.
Don't forget, you can catch up on all the positional groups I've looked at all ready. Running Backs, Defensive Line, Offensive Line and Defensive Backs. Next week I look at the middle of the Defense, the Linebackers.