Alex’s Top 5 Riders to Watch in 2023
Published: Monday, Apr 24th 2023, 3:04pm
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
As we inch closer and closer until CFL teams open their Training Camps, we’re all getting a bit more fired up to see how our favourite teams look and what they have that will help them win a championship in November. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to look very different in 2023 and that’s not a bad thing. They were horrible last year and changes needed to be made, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Obviously the first player that fans are eager to see is new starting QB Trevor Harris and if he can turn this offense around. But I’m going a bit under the radar with my picks, so Harris isn’t on my list. Neither is his #1 receiver to start the season, Derel Walker. I’m interested to see what he still has in the tank and if he can be the impact player in a brand new receiving group while Kian Schaffer-Baker is sidelined. Harris and Walker get my honourable mentions.
Here is my list of Top 5 Saskatchewan Roughriders to watch in 2023:
No. 5 – LB Micah Teitz
With the departure of all-star linebacker Darnell Sankey to the XFL, Teitz will slide back into the starting WIL LB spot he had in 2021. Teitz, of course missed all of the 2022 season with a hip/groin injury and I’m really interested to see if he is good to go and can be the same dependable LB we saw a few years ago. Obviously coming off a year without playing is concerning, but we all thought the same of Larry Dean last year and he was phenomenal. With Teitz back in the starting lineup, the Riders have a bit more flexibility with the ratio, which is always a good thing.
No. 4 – WR Brayden Lenius
Kian Schaffer-Baker is set to be sidelined for the first part of the season and I want to see Lenius step up and become a very valuable receiver for this team. He’s shown some flashes, but still has less than 700 yards in his 3 year CFL career. The Riders let Justin McInnis go to BC in free agency and added Juwan Brescacin to the mix, but I’d still like to see Lenius step up and turn what I think will be a full on rotation between 5 Canadians for a couple of receiving spots, into a competition between everyone else competing to be KSB and Lenius’ backups. I want to see the next step in the progression of Lenius’ career and he’s going to get a great chance with KSB out to start the year.
No. 3 – DE Stefen Banks
It was either going to be Banks or another former Calgary Stampeder, Shawn Bane in this spot for me. General Manager Jeremy O’Day released A.C. Leonard and with the savings of that move, was able to keep Pete Robertson and Anthony Lanier II on the D-Line and also add (again) Micah Johnson. Enter Stefen Banks at the other Defensive End position to round out the starting 4 defensive lineman. He had limited playing time in 2 seasons for the Stamps, but still put up 8 QB sacks, including 2 against the Riders at the end of last year, so management has seen first hand what he’s all about. I’m excited to see if Banks can become the next CFL star.
No. 2 – DB Jayden Dalke
For the first time in quite a few years, the Riders will not have Mike Edem as their starting safety and Jayden Dalke is the likely candidate to get the most amount of playing time in that spot. Dalke has played a small rotational role for this team and now is his big chance to make a name for himself as a household CFL name and starter. Defensive Coordinator Jason Shivers uses a lot of different looks and movement on his defense and I’ll be watching to see how Dalke can adapt to that and play an important part on the defense. I’d love to see him step up and become the next multi-year starting safety here in Riderville.
No. 1 – OL Zack Fry
It’s no secret that the Riders Offensive Line last year was just that… offensive. Fry was a draft pick last year by the team and spent Training Camp with the Riders before going back to finish his schooling. We saw young guys like Logan Ferland and Logan Bandy get their shot last year in starting positions and all things considered, they weren’t that bad. I don’t mind growing pains on the O-Line with young guys getting their chance… as long as they are growing through those pains. Evan Johnson, however, has just gotten worse over the last few years and he needs to be replaced. I’m really hoping Zack Fry can be that guy and take command of the right side of the O-Line for years to come. It’s time for the Riders to get back to having mean, nasty guys on their O-Line and start bullying the opposition again.
We are less than a month away from preseason games! Bring on the CFL season!!
If you're having trouble subscribing, subscribe here instead.