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Grading the CFL QBs

Published: Thursday, Jul 25th 2019, 1:07pm

By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)

So far in the CFL this year the quarterback position has seen quite a bit of change and new faces emerge. The reason for this is two fold, movement during free agency and injuries. After Trevor Harris left Ottawa to sign in Edmonton the REDBLACKS decided to sign Jonathan Jennings, previously with the BC Lions. They also retained last years back up QB Dominique Davis so everyone thought that the starting job in the nation’s capital would be an open competition. Mike Reilly (and back-up Danny O’Brien) left Edmonton to sign closer to home in BC. After entertaining offers from Saskatchewan and Toronto, Bo Levi Mitchell re-signed in Calgary. The Roughriders quietly re-signed Zach Collaros, but also signed former Argo and Lion Cody Fajardo and found rookie Isaac Harker at a free agent camp. Toronto decided to stick with their duo of James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson but also signed (and released) Brandon Bridge who has since signed in Montreal. The Alouettes went into the season with Antonio Pipkin penciled in as the starter, with Vernon Adams Jr as the back up after the Johnny Maziel saga in the CFL ended. Winnipeg and Hamilton were comfortable enough in their personal that they kept everything the same. With all that has happened with the QB’s this year, I have decided to compare and grade them through the first 3rd of the season.




Mike Reilly has taken every snap for the Lions this season. Mike is clearly still one of the best QB’s in the league but so far this year he has been on his back more often than not. He is 2nd in the league in yards (1602) and tied for first in completions(143), but has an efficiency % of only 89.1 which is in the bottom 3 of the QB’s that have taken the most reps. His TD to INT ratio is currently sitting at 1:1 which is not great. He has deep threat targets in Bryan Burnham, Lamar Durant and Duron Carter but with terrible OLine play he has not had the time in the pocket to pick apart teams the way we are used to seeing. With a 1-5 record one could argue that the BC Lions are not getting quite the return on the investment of over 700K they are paying him this season.  First 3rd grade: C+




Like Reilly, Trevor Harris has played every snap for the Eskimos so far. Up until last game he had yet to throw an INT (He threw 2 against the Alouettes). He leads the league in passing yards (1633) and completions (tied with Mike Reilly at 143). His efficiency % is 105.4 which is 4th among the current starting QB’s. He has looked great to begin the year with only really having one bad game and currently performing better than the two more expensive options (Reilly and Mitchell).  First 3rd grade A




After re-signing in CowTown this year, Bo Levi MItchell started off very slow. In 2 games played before injuring his right pectoral muscle in a non contact play, he has a completion % of 63.0 and was on his way to being 0-2 until back up Nick Arbuckle came in relief and led the Stamps on a comeback victory over the Lions. Arbuckle has looked very serviceable blowing out the Riders 37 – 10 and then squeaking past the Argos last week. He has a 5:2 TD / INT ratio and at 107.4 efficiency rating. First 3rd grade B+



Zach Collaros was named the starter for the season and hopes were high that he might be able to stay healthy and finally regain the form of his remarkable 2015 year in Hamilton. Well that lasted all of 3 plays as he was knocked out of the game by Simoni Lawrence. Cody Farjardo came into the game and was a special teams TD away from possibly getting the win in relief. The next week in his first official start he went to war with Dom Davis of Ottawa and lost a thrilling 44 – 41 decision. Through his first 4 starts he has thrown for more yards(1157) than any other Roughriders QB. He has an efficiency rating of 107 and has only had one bad game. His good games have come against Ottawa, Tor and BC so the jury is out on when he plays against an elite defence but he has solidified his status as the Riders starting QB. First 3rd Grade B+




Matt Nichols has taken his game manager nickname to heart and has managed to lead the Blue Bombers to their first 5-0 start since 1960. He has a league high efficiency rating of 129.1 and has thrown for 12 TDs with only 1 INT. His 73.2 completion % is top in the league for starting QB’s. As of right now he has to be the leading candidate for MOP out of the West. First 3rd Grade: A+  




Toronto is 0-5 so far this season. After starter James Franklin went down with an injury against the Roughriders, McLeod Bethel-Thompson took over the reigns but hasn’t fared any better. Both QBs have thrown for more INTs than TDs and with an efficiency rating of 86.0 is second last in the league (of QBs who have played the most snaps). What more can i say… First 3rd Grade F 




Jeremiah Masoli is having another good year. His 2:1 TD to INT ratio shows that he is taking care of the football and Hamilton has a 4-1 record to show for it. His 101.7 efficiency rating is middle of the pack but he is second in TDs with 9. First 3rd Grade A




Dominique Davis had 2 very impressive starts to the season, leading the REDBLACKS to victories over the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders. After that he came back down to earth. Before injuring himself in game 4 he had a 3:7 TD to INT ratio (including 4 picks in the first game) and a very low efficiency rating of 75.1. Jonathon Jennings made his first start of the season last week against Winnipeg and could not get anything going, completing only 6 passes for 45 yards and an INT. The REDBLACKS will need better if they want to get back to their winning ways. First 3rd Grade D



Antonio Pipkin was the starter going into the 2019 season. Unfortunately for him he got injured in the first game and back up Vernon Adams Jr has started the last 4 games for the Alouettes. Big Play VA has gone 3-1 as the starter and has reinvigorated this Montreal offence. He has a 5:2 TD to INT ratio and a 102.9 efficiency rating. Adams has been longing for this opportunity ever since coming into this league with BC and is in his second stint in Montreal after stops in Saskatchewan and Hamilton. First 3rd Grade B+


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