Riders Positional Breakdown – Offensive Line
Published: Monday, Feb 27th 2023, 3:02pm
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
Leading up to the CFL Draft, I’ll be looking at the roster put together so far by Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Jeremy O’Day. I’ll share my thoughts on what I like, what I don’t like and how I see that particular unit showing in 2023.
All off season, us fans only wanted to know one thing: CAN HE PLAY O-LINE?? It got really sad, actually, seeing that same comment on EVERY post from the team on social media. But it goes to show how poor the O-Line was last season and how much people want to see it improved.
So that’s where we will start. On the Offensive Line (listed in alphabetical order).
Logan Bandy – was in a tough spot last year coming in to replace the injured Dan Clark. Center is the tough spot along the line to come in as a young guy and succeed, but I thought Bandy did okay. Not great, but showed that he’s definitely worth developing. He gained some valuable experience and would be my choice right now for 6th O-Lineman.
Philip Blake – the ultimate utility man. O’Day righted a wrong in my mind when he signed Blake on day 1 of free agency. Blake can play anywhere on the line and while some fans are convinced he’ll be the starting Right Guard, I think he’ll end up being the starting Left Tackle. By putting Blake at tackle, it would mean that the Americans O’Day brought in didn’t pan out, BUT it will allow the Riders to start 8 Canadians and gives them a bit more roster flexibility. I know fans will look at his age (37), but I love this signing.
Logan Ferland – Brendon LaBatte has said numerous times to watch out for this guy. We’ve seen him grow quite a bit over the last few years into a starter on the line at Left Guard. He’ll be there again this year and with another season under his belt, a full one starting, I’m looking forward to seeing him progress more as a key member of this O-Line for years to come.
Zack Fry – A 2022 draft pick, I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing him in training camp. He played Right Tackle at Western University, was with the Riders in training camp last year and went back to Western to finish his final year of school. I’m sure he’ll get some reps at Right Tackle in camp, but he’ll likely be used as a Guard. If Fry can make the team and push for that Right Guard spot as the season progresses, it would be a major win for the Riders. Not sure if he’ll make the active roster as the 6th O-Lineman, but he’ll be around after Training Camp, no doubt.
Peter Godber – He comes in to replace Dan Clark on the line as the starting Center. While he had a tough go at it in BC for a little bit (let’s face it, their O-Line was TERRIBLE for a few years), things changed last season and the whole unit was very solid. Godber brings youth and starting experience to the line and will anchor the Riders O-Line for the foreseeable future. I didn’t see this signing coming, but I like it.
Jerald Hawkins – One of the Americans brought in to try out for the Left Tackle position, he has bounced around the NFL since being drafted in 2016. If he’s able to prove he’s the best option at Left Tackle here in Saskatchewan, it would move Philip Blake to Right Guard. After the major issues the Riders had at Tackle last season, the more competition, the better.
Evan Johnson – What a disappointment he’s turned out to be since coming over from Ottawa. I’m not sure if it was coaching, but he was the weak link on the Riders O-Line in 2022. That said, with new coaching, I’m willing to give him a bit more time before saying goodbye. I suppose we can pencil him in at Right Guard for now, but I’d love to see either Zack Fry or Philip Blake start at RG now instead of Johnson.
Eric Lofton – A name not too many people are familiar with, but is the clubhouse leader right now to start at Right Tackle. He was stuck as a backup in Winnipeg last year, but has played a few games in his CFL career in Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg. With the gong show that was the RT position last season with Na’Ty Rodgers, Jamal Campbell and Kooper Richardson, Lofton can’t be any worse, right? If he starts at Right Tackle, I’m all for it.
Diego Alatorre Montoya – The Riders 3rd round pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, Montoya should compete for the Right Guard spot. I don’t expect him to win it, but I think that he should be able to stick around on the Practice Roster, if he accepts it. Definitely worth keeping around as you can never have enough Canadian O-Lineman in the CFL.
Jeremiah Poutasi – An American Guard who bounced around the NFL for a handful of seasons. He was a 3rd round NFL pick, but that didn’t translate to much outside of Practice Roster spots down south. I just don’t see any room on this roster for an American Guard. I fully expect him to be one of the first cuts in Training Camp.
Kooper Richardson – Started a few games at Right Tackle for the Riders last year and in the first one or two, didn’t look too bad. Was definitely an upgrade over Na’Ty Rodgers and Jamal Campbell, but finished sluggishly in 2022. I expect him to compete at Right Tackle with Eric Lofton, but I can’t see Richardson winning the battle and staying on the roster.
Jordan Tucker – American Right Tackle that went undrafted by the NFL, but was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a bit. I don’t have any real hopes for him, but if he can come out and win the Right Tackle gig, great. I’m sure he’ll get some reps at Left Tackle in Training Camp, but I don’t expect anything on that side.
Overall, I’m surprised that only one TRUE Left Tackle was brought in by Jeremy O’Day this offseason. In that sense, I’m a bit underwhelmed. The team needed a change on the O-Line and it looks like they will have either 3 or 4 new starters, with only Logan Ferland (and Evan Johnson) as the incumbents. I’m not sure that I’m willing to say that O-Day knocked this out of the park, but hopefully it’s a step in the right direction and the O-Line won’t be the total mess that it was last season.
My best guess is that we see a Blake-Ferland-Godber-Johnson-Lofton O-Line to start the season.
I am curious and a bit shocked at the fact Dan Clark isn’t on the Riders roster, however. I wonder if they have a handshake deal for him to be ready when Training Camp starts, just in case. If an injury pops up, if they have another roster spot open, whatever the case is. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Dan Clark in a Rider jersey, but if we have, we’ll see you in the Plaza soon!
If you're having trouble subscribing, subscribe here instead.