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Riders Positional Groups – Receivers and Defensive Backs

Published: Monday, Jan 22nd 2024, 2:01pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

Last week I started this series on the current Saskatchewan Roughriders roster, looking at who the team has under contract and who is a pending free agent so that we can all play Armchair GM and decide where the Riders need to be active in free agency. We’ll continue and finish it off this week and we’ll get there by looking at the receivers and defensive backs.

 

Receivers

Under Contract: Mario Alford, Geronimo Allison, O’Joshua Bunton, Samuel Emilus, Brayden Lenius, Kalija Lipscomb, Dohnte Meyers, Jake Parker, Mitch Picton, Kian Schaffer-Baker, Jerreth Sterns, Kendall Watson

Pending Free Agents: Shawn Bane Jr., Juwan Brescacin, Tevin Jones

I don’t dislike what the team has here, there is some potential, but there is also definite need for upgrade. First, the team needs to bring back Shawn Bane Jr. I was excited about him last year when they signed him in free agency and he delivered. Are there better receivers out there in the free agent market? Sure. But those ones will likely cost significantly more than Bane Jr. will. As for the other free agents in Juwan Brescacin and Tevin Jones… it sure seems like the team has walked away from both and that’s okay by me.

I’d like to see Mario Alford get some touches on offense. I said that last year, but they didn’t listen. Hopefully new Offensive Coordinator Marc Mueller figures out a way to use him on more than just kick returns. I don’t have big hopes on the newcomers like former Green Bay Packers receiver Geronimo AllisonO’Joshua Bunton, or Dohnte Meyers. Not that they can’t come in and win a roster spot and do good, I’m just not putting any stock in it now until training camp.

The returning Americans like Kalija Kipscomb, Jake Parker, Kendall Watson and Jerreth Sterns will all need to wow me in training camp. Sterns has the upper hand on all these guys and is the best bet for a breakout season, but I’m hoping one of the others can make enough progress to become a starter.

As for the Canadians, the team is set. Samuel Emilus exploded last year and along with Kian Schaffer-Baker, will take up 2 of the starting spots. Good depth behind them with Mitch Picton and Brayden Lenius. I do expect another Canadian to be brought in during free agency as added depth.

Overall, it’s a group with a lot of Betas and no true Alpha. I see a lot of #2 guys here. General Manager Jeremy O’Day needs to get a true #1 in free agency… possibly Dalton Schoen from the Bombers? O’Day SHOULD be active here to bring in at least one more guy from the list of free agents.

 

Defensive Backs

Under Contract: Rodney Clemons, Cole Coleman, Jayden Dalke, Mark Fields II, Jaxon Ford, Amari Henderson, Rolan Milligan Jr., Kosi Onyeka, Trumaine Washington, Deontai Williams

Pending Free Agents: Jeremy Clark, Nelson Lokombo, Godfrey Onyeka

Some solid young pieces, but a lot of uncertainty here. I do think that all of the pending free agents are done in Saskatchewan. Sucks for a young guy like Nelson Lokombo, but he’s constantly injured and just not worth bringing back. Though I’m sure once injuries hit, Godfrey Onyeka will be back quickly.

The Canadian Safety spot is in good hands with Jayden Dalke and Jaxon Ford. I’d like to see a leap in both of their careers here and take it to the next level. I’m a big fan of Dalke, but some of his angles last year were bad. Hopefully with a new coaching staff, his third season will be his best to date and he becomes the star I think he can become. Kosi Onyeka plays specials and provides depth behind Dalke and Ford if something happens in game.

Bringing back Amari Henderson and Rolan Milligan Jr. were absolutely huge moves for the Riders. Both will start and will be leaned on this season. I’m looking forward to a full year from both of them.

Then this is where the rest get cloudy. Rodney Clemons is on my breakout candidate list, Trumaine Washington does have experience and Deontai Williams was up and down last year in his rookie season. The others like Cole Coleman and Mark Fields II are complete unknowns.

I’m sure we will see some free agents brought in to this group. If Head Coach Corey Mace is able to bring in someone like Jamal Peters, I’ll be much more confident in this group. Who knows, if Adarius Pickett is brought in for the SAM LB spot, the team could slide C.J. Reavis into the backfield and we have some options there. But there is a definite need of a veteran in the defensive backfield and I have no doubt we’ll raid the double blue here. They DO need some help to shore up that back end.

 

Previous Positional Groups

Quarterbacks and Special Teams

Running Backs and Linebackers

 

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