The 2014 Ottawa expansion draft has come and gone, and as a BC Lions fan you had to be happy with how the way the day went down.
The Lions of course lost backup quarterback Thomas DeMarco, along with guard Matt Albright and defensive lineman Andrew Marshall. I was surprised to hear DeMarco’s name called in the first round, just because of the names you heard leading up to the draft. But that pick helped the Lions immensely and allowed them to protect a player they were scared of losing.
According to Lowell Ullrich at The Province, the Lions had left non-import receiver SJ Haidara unprotected in the first round and they quickly utilized their extra protection slots received from the DeMarco pick to shelter him for rounds two and three.
Matt Albright was an unfortunate loss, with the Lions already needing to address Canadian depth on their offensive line, but they will look to sign last year’s pick Hunter Steward, and hope to have Kirby Fabien ready to go after a bad knee injury.
With the draft behind them the Lions won’t be done tweaking their club. They have still to name a new offensive coordinator, with Khari Jones, Jason Maas and Marcel Bellefeuille the latest names to be tossed around after both Paul LaPolice and George Cortez both declined offers from BC. I’m not sure any of those names will excite fans too much. Both Maas and Jones would be pretty raw coordinators, while Bellefeuille would be an experienced but somewhat of a recycled option. All three have enough CFL experience but pickings are pretty slim at the moment and both of the Lions top choices are off the table.
While several players today are probably relieved to still be Lions, that relief could be short-lived. When asked by Ullrich what was next for his club, GM Wally Buono replied, “Burn the ship”.
With Buono now on his annual Christmas vacation to Hawaii, there will no doubt be contemplation amongst the relaxation. The Lions are in preparation to host the Grey Cup, and with changes in the coaching staff already in motion, the club’s next order of business will be how to prepare for free agency.
Will the team opt to shed the contracts of older veterans and be players on the open market? How much turnover can the club withstand in a year when they hope to compete for the Grey Cup at home?
Buono has never been shy to say goodbye to veteran players and this off-season will likely be no different. The club has reshuffled its scouting department and will no doubt be looking for diamonds in the rough in the draft, tryout camps and free agency.
There are many questions to be answered in the coming months, but if the Lions survive those as well as they did this expansion draft, they should be just fine, even if they have to do a little ship burning along the way.