Riders Positional Breakdown – Receivers
Published: Monday, Apr 10th 2023, 2:04pm
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 each player and how I see that particular unit showing in 2023.
Let’s take a look at the Receivers (listed in alphabetical order).
Mario Alford – Alford was pretty much the lone bright spot in the back half of the 2022 season for the Riders and truthfully, he was the only member of the team who didn’t look like he just gave up. The man is electrifying on returns and this year the return game will be excellent again. I hope that they can find some packages on offense for him and use him a few times throughout the game and really use his skills more often. He’ll have a big, BIG season.
Shawn Bane Jr. – Probably the player on the team I am most excited about. Bane showed flashes in Calgary, but never really got the opportunity that he will get now in Saskatchewan. He can fill in the missing Kyran Moore type receiver and I think the potential with Bane Jr. is through the roof. I don’t think he’ll get 1,000 yards, but I think he’ll end up being the best free agent signing for the team when it’s all said and done. I look forward to seeing him become a CFL star here in Riderville.
Riley Boersma – With the team making it obvious they are starting 2 Canadian receivers, with the possibility they go with 3 at times, Boersma figures to be in on it somehow. Will he make the active roster week 1? Maybe not, but they’ll keep him around somehow and develop him. If and when injuries occur (besides the KSB injury), he’ll get in on the rotation at receiver in 2023. Doesn’t hurt to have a young, local depth piece around.
Juwan Brescacin – A lot of people are questioning this signing by O’Day in free agency, but not me. I like the idea of bringing in a vet Canadian receiver with this group, especially with Kian Schaffer-Baker slated to miss time to start the year. I get the concerns with his injury history the last few years, but with the group of Canadians the Riders have at receiver, he doesn’t need to be an every down player. He doesn’t need to go out there and put up 800 yards. Brescacin will work in that rotation of 2 or 3 Canadian receivers, keeping everyone fresh and that’s when he’ll be most effective. I don’t think 500 yards is out of the question, but the leadership he brings to a fairly young group is important.
Keith Corbin III – A young guy that will likely be a training camp cut. Corbin III, along with Kalija Lipscomb, Jake Parker, Tabashi Thomas and Kendall Watson will all compete for a potential practice roster spot. Not a lot known about these guys, but we’ll see who gets the annual ‘Terrance Nunn’ player of training camp award… don’t get your hopes up, despite what they show in training camp.
Samuel Emilus – Another year of rotational work will be in the cards for Emilus in 2023. He has a ton of potential and they need to keep developing him. I don’t have high expectations for him, just that I’d like to see him improve and maybe get a few starts this year as the season progresses. He’s a guy I’m looking at for 2024 to grab a starting spot, but he has to prove this year that he deserves it. With the KSB injury, Emilus will be in a good spot to get more playing time to show what he has.
Tevin Jones – I liked this signing last year because I followed him along in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With all the injuries and chaos that involved the Riders receivers last season, it was a shame that Jones wasn’t given more of an opportunity. Granted, he didn’t do too much with his limited opportunity, but no one really did other than Kian Schaffer-Baker. Right now, I have him as the odd man out behind Derel Walker, Shawn Bane Jr. and Jake Weineke, but if something happens to one of them in training camp, Jones would become a starter. Ultimately, I don’t think he sticks around on the practice roster and will be a training camp cut as the team will go for a younger player (I say this knowing full well that he won’t be cut now that I posted about it).
Brayden Lenius – Along with KSB, Lenius is a projected starter and will be heavily involved in the Canadian rotation. Much like KSB, I see him getting more reps than the rest of the group despite only playing in 7 games last year following his NFL stint in Atlanta. In 2021 he had nearly 500 yards and 4 touchdowns and I expect both of those numbers to go up in 2023 now that Justin McInnis is gone to BC. Lenius is going to be important to this offense, especially while KSB is hurt.
Kalija Lipscomb – Has spent a few weeks on NFL practice rosters over the last 3 years. Like all the other new American recruits, he’s in tough to make the roster and will likely only be fighting for a potential PR spot.
Jake Parker – He played in Germany last year in the German Football League and the upside to him is that he returned kicks. Maybe that’s his in to be on the practice roster over the other new receivers brought in. PR spot at best.
Mitch Picton – Much like Brescacin and Emilus, Picton will be part of that Canadian rotation in the receiving group. Truthfully, I don’t have a ton of expectations for him (he only has 43 catches over 2 “full” seasons), but he’ll be leaned on to provide depth and be a reliable target until KSB is fully healthy.
Kian Schaffer-Baker – Easily the best player the Riders have on O, I can’t wait to see what KSB has in store for 2023 when he returns to the lineup following his offseason surgery. I was so MAD last year at the absolute refusal of Jason Maas to use KSB as a featured target, because any time KSB got the ball, great things happened. He had only two 100+ yard games, but also had 90+ in 3 others. I sure hope Kelly Jeffrey realizes what he has here and uses KSB as the #1 guy that he is when he returns from injury. He needs to be used in the slot more often, but can play either inside or outside and I expect him to do both. It’s a shame he’ll miss some time to start the season, because the sky is the limit for KSB and he would EASILY amass 1,000 yards and bust past the 5 touchdowns he scored last year. When he returns to the field… FEED KSB!
Tabashi Thomas – Training camp fodder, in a fight with a handful of other receivers to be a potential practice roster player.
Derel Walker – A signing that I was wondering if it was going to happen. Walker comes in and immediately gives new QB Trevor Harris some familiarity and veteran leadership that is severely lacking in the Riders receiving group. Yes, Walker is a shell of his old self, we won’t see any more 1,500+ yard seasons, but on a dreadful Elks team last year that had big time QB problems, he still nearly put up 900 yards (with three 100 + yard games in a 5 week stretch). He should hit 1,000 again this year and when it’s 2nd and 9, he’s a guy you can trust to move the chains. Only 1 TD in 2 seasons with Edmonton is a bit worrisome, but I feel that’s an outlier and I imagine he’ll pass that within a couple of games in 2023. Walker is an important signing and gives Harris the true wideout that seems to be missing on this team.
Kendall Watson – Much like the rest of the new receivers you’ve never heard of, he’s hoping to come in and take a practice roster spot. Every year there is someone who stands out to fans and media, but never make it on to the active roster. Maybe Watson is the 2023 winner of the Terrance Nunn award.
Jester Weah – Last year’s training camp stud, I think it’s going to take an injury or something else for Weah to make the active roster in 2023. Despite all the issues at receiver last season, Weah still couldn’t make it onto the active roster until that last meaningless game against Calgary… where he put up a whopping 9 yards on 2 catches. As an American receiver, you NEED to make an impression immediately in the CFL or you will be replaced. I don’t think Weah has made that impression and I think he’s cut after training camp again, but no PR spot this time around. OR he earns a starting spot and shows why I’m not a scout or a General Manager.
Jake Wieneke – Another of O’Day’s big free agency signings, Wieneke immediately slides into a starting spot with the Riders and brings some continuity with Trevor Harris. “Touchdown Jake” had a down year last year in Montreal, but with what he has shown in his other 2 years in the league, I think that’s a one off. I do expect 1,000 yards and possibly double-digit TDs this season. He’s the 20-30 yard threat the Riders missed last year and I look forward to him getting back to his “old” self in 2023. I love this signing and I have high hopes for Wieneke this year.
Overall, it’s a HUGE change in the receiving group from last year’s squad. Out are Duke Williams, Shaq Evans, Kyran Moore and Justin McInnis, which was a group I was REALLY excited for prior to the 2022 season. This year, I’ve tempered my expectations (despite my hopes of three 1,000 yard receivers), but I really like the potential of this new receiving unit. The biggest difference this year is Trevor Harris. Even if the O-Line doesn’t give the QB a lot of time, Harris can ACTUALLY read a defense and will stand in the pocket and get the ball to his playmakers, something we didn’t see last year.
I like the look of a Walker-Bane Jr.-Wieneke-KSB-Lenius unit, while also mixing in Alford. I just won’t put them in the top half of the league… yet. It might take a few weeks for the starting unit to gel together, but when he’s healthy, just… FEED KSB!!
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