With a final free agent camp taking place this weekend in Seattle, the Lions will hope to find a few more diamonds in the rough. Let’s take a look at this week’s Lions news in the latest edition of the Lions Notebook.
After listening to General Manager Wally Buono and Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel Neil McEvoy speak following the draft, it’s apparent that the Lions drafted strategically on Tuesday. CFL Scouting has their rankings, media members and fans come up with their own mock drafts, but the teams also compile their own lists based on the needs of their clubs.
The Lions really liked what they saw in Ese Mrabure-Ajofu, a project with great potential who may not have been on anyone’s first round draft board except their own. The defensive line was not good enough last season, and with the Lions planning to start Jabar Westerman at defensive end this season, they needed national depth behind him. With 2014 pick David Menard showing well last season and expected to back up and spell off Westerman, the Lions also have Steven Doege to consider on the defensive line, but would love to see more progress from him in Kamloops.
Those that subscribe to the “take the best player available” mentality will continue to question the Lions pick. Sure, they needed offensive linemen, and if Calgary’s Sean McEwen was there at five, they likely would have called his name. But when he wasn’t they turned their attention to the other side of the trench.
It’s a gutsy move, but one that has to be respected. If it pans out it will also be applauded.
One of the most intriguing picks by the Lions is UNLV running back Shaquille Murray Lawrence. The speedy back has also been labelled as a solid blocker and came with the high praises of Lions scout Roy Shivers, who has contributed more than a few great finds over his CFL career.
The Lions drafted Pascal Lochard in 2014, and he will be in a fight for a roster spot with Murray-Lawrence. Two backs that went undrafted Tuesday, UBC’s Brandon Deschamps and SFU’s Bibake Uppal have also received camp invites.
Once again the pick addressed a need for the Lions, adding depth behind national starter Andrew Harris. If Murray-Lawrence’s highlight reel is any indication, the Lions and their fans may have something special to look forward to.
Free Agent Camp Fruit
With the Lions looking for new talent in Seattle this weekend, they announced three signings from their Washington D.C. last month. Linebacker Cody Acker, and defensive backs Derrick Morgan and Jerimiah Johnson will attend rookie camp on May 28th, with hopes of sticking around for the main camp June 1st.
As first reported by Lowell Ullrich of The Province, the Lions also released two players on Thursday; Defensive back Matt McGarva and fullback Akwasi Antwi. The McGarva release is a tough one because his career with BC never really got started. When he was drafted in 2013 by the Lions, they projected him as a starting Canadian safety. Back to back major knee injuries derailed McGarva’s chance to grab hold of the position, and now the Lions have chosen to go in another direction.
McGarva is a good football player, and an even better person. His work in the community this off-season was endless, and we hope he lands on his feet somewhere and gets to play some football.
The Lions revealed that for the first time in their draft history, they made use of analytics in making their selections. Analytics is the newest way professional teams are evaluating their talent, and while the Lions didn’t rely on them exclusively, it’s interesting to hear they played a factor.
“Analytics in football is not as easy as what it might be in baseball. You can’t base everything off analytics either. It’s just another measuring stick,” McEvoy told The Province’s Lowell Ullrich.
If you want to learn a little more about analytics our own Mark Fulton has an introductory post here on 3DownNation.
Edit of the Week
We leave you with another fine CFL fan edit, this one featuring the Lions Ryan Phillips by @davidmclennan91 on Twitter:
— David (@davidmclennan91) May 15, 2015