Updated: Jul 18
Every Tuesday Shane and Frankie look over the depth chart of each team. We have decided that we will be taking it to articles afterwards. We are starting out with the B.C. Lions. Here is what we had to say!
The Lions have one of the top two quarterbacks in the CFL right now and number one depending on who you ask. They are set at the quarterback spot as long as Mike Reilly stays healthy for the whole season. The questions will begin to flow if he goes down. Currently, it looks like Will Arndt will be the backup, but Nathan Rourke could also play a role in a situation like that, even if it is in a rotation with Arndt similar to what we saw with Zack Collaros and Chris Streveler with the Blue Bombers last season. The QB spot is going to be so interesting, but Lions fans do not want to have to go down this road, especially not in a six-game season.
The running back spot looks so much better than the quarterback spot, especially in the depth department. With John White, Brandon Rutley, Chris Rainey and even down to Brandon Radcliff, the Lions have an abundance of running backs who could make a massive difference on any given night. The Lions will have a chance to place more of an emphasis on the running game than they have before and doing so would certainly save Mike Reilly some punishment in the long run. An effective running game would free up the passing game, and that could make the Lions pretty dangerous.
The boys catching the football will be spearheaded by Shaq Johnson, Bryan Burnham and Lemar Durant. Throwing Dominique Rhymes into the picture should add an extra weapon. Rhymes was the Redblacks only 1000 yard receiver last season and is someone that new head coach Rick Campbell seems to like. With Mike Rielly throwing them the ball, there should be some fireworks from this Lions offence.
The offensive line is where the concerns lie. Ryker Matthews was added to the roster in the offseason, but Justin Renfrow is one of the bigger names that left via free agency. If the Lions offensive line isn’t improved this season, they won’t win too many games. If they can keep Reilly on his feet, the Lions offence should be set on the offensive side of the football.
Offence grade: B
The Lions defence is where things get a little bit interesting. The secondary is relatively young and inexperienced. This is something I wouldn’t consider myself too concerned about. It will be the Lions' weakness, but Rick Campbell has a fantastic track record of taking young defensive backs and turning them into productive CFL players. Names such as Antoine Pruneau, Corey Tindal, Sherrod Baltimore and Jonathan Rose are all players who have become very good defensive backs under the guidance of Campbell and I would expect the Lions to find some diamonds in the rough. In order for the Lions defence to have any success, however, they will need their linebackers and defensive linemen to have a really good season.
The linebacking core will be led by the likes of Kenny Ladler and Jordan Herdman-Reed, but will also see the likes of Adam Konar and recent first overall pick, Jordan Williams play a role. The Lions linebacking group will need to be good this season in order for the defence as a whole to be good. I have confidence that the Lions will be able to find some combination of players that will work for them, it will just be a question of who slots in where for them. They won’t have long to do it with the proposed six-game season, so they will have to figure things out before it costs them a game or two.
The Lions defensive line is probably the best part of this defence. Having players like Chris Casher, Jonathan Newsome, J.R. Tavai and Micah Johnson is an immediate boost for the Lions defensive line. The player who I think will be a huge impact on the Lions is Tavai. He flew under the radar for the Redblacks last season, but he was easily the most effective player on the defensive line at getting to the quarterback. This defensive line holds the key to success for the Lions defence that gets weaker the further back you look. If the defensive line is effective at getting to the quarterback and stopping the run, the Lions might be okay.
Defence grade: C+
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