Quarterbacks – None. The Ti-Cats carry three imports on their roster at the QB position. Do they give Southern Ontario talent Kyle Quinlan a shot?
Running backs – Daryl Stephenson (Windsor), Darcy Brown (Saint Mary’s), Tyrell Francisco (Weber State) – Brown and Francisco are listed at fullback. Francisco was drafted last year by the Ti-Cats and finished up his education at Weber State before coming to Hamilton. Brown is primarily a special teams player, but he does see some offensive reps from time to time as well, hauling in eight receptions last season. Stephenson signed as a free agent in Hamilton last season and also plays special teams. Running back not likely a place the Ti-Cats will use one of their picks, unless they’re looking for more solid special teams players.
Receivers – Sam Giguere (Sherbrooke), Glenn MacKay (Windsor), Andy Fantuz (Western), Liam Mahoney (Concordia), Dave Stala (Saint Mary’s) – Giguere was the 1st overall pick by Hamilton in 2008. Until just this week he had never signed a contract with the Ti-Cats due to bouncing around the NFL. He will bolster a Canadian receiving corps that is already full of talent with Dave Stala and 2010 Top Canadian Andy Fantuz on the roster. Fantuz was a free agent signing by the Ti-Cats in February, while Stala will enter his fourth season with the team, having eclipsed the 750 mark in receiving yards for the past three seasons. MacKay started six games for the Tabbies last year, making nine receptions in total. He missed the playoffs due to injury. Mahoney took his spot late in the season but did not see much action in the lineup.
Offensive line: Marwan Hage (Colorado), Cody Husband (UBC), Adam Rogers (Acadia), Pascal Baillargeon (Laval), Tim O’Neill (Calgary), Peter Dyakowski (LSU) – Hage is one of the best centres in the CFL, but he missed the last half of 2011 due to injury. Given the fact that their depth on the offensive line isn’t that great, one could expect the Ti-Cats to draft an offensive lineman with the 3rd overall pick. Perhaps future player Austin Pasztor (NFL tryout) or one of Kirby Fabien or Matt Norman. Peter Dyakowski was named Canada’s Smartest Person this past off-season. The 2006 11th overall pick has missed only six games so far in his CFL career and will step back into his spot at left guard. O’Neill was a free agent signing in February and brought in to provide insurance incase Hage’s health isn’t 100% and also possibly start and replace Simeon Rottier at right guard. Rottier, and his back-up Wayne Smith both left in free agency. Baillargeon and Husband were 2011 draft pickups. Husband was a free agent signing, while Baillargeon was the team’s 21st overall pick. Adam Rogers enters his 4th season but has yet to receive any significant playing time.
Defensive line: Maurice Forbes (Concordia), Eddie Steele (Manitoba), Ivan Brown (Saskatchewan), Marc-Antoine Fortin (Laval) – Both Forbes and Steele are recent draft picks of the Ti-Cats. Forbes was selected in 2011, while Steele was picked in 2010. Steele started every game at one of the two defensive tackle spots for the team, while Forbes spent the majority of the season on the injured list. Fortin was also a 2011 draft pick, but finished out his university career with Laval last season. Brown was a free agent signing in training camp last season and has played special teams for the club. Given the fact that imports Justin Hickman and Stevie Baggs are no longer around (Hickman went to the NFL, Baggs was cut), perhaps the Ti-Cats look to fill a spot at one of the rush end spots along the defensive line.
Linebackers – Kyle Jones (Bishop’s), Nathan Kanya (UBC), Jonathan Hood (Western), Kevin Eiben (Bucknell), Yannick Carter (Laurier), Patrick Jean-Mary (Howard), Ray Mariuz (McMaster) – No shortage of linebackers on the team, however most of them play special teams. Eiben, the longtime Toronto Argonaut did not return to the Argos after playing in only three games last season due to injury. He signed as a free agent with the Ti-Cats and will provide crucial veteran leadership to an overall youthful defensive unit. Mariuz came out of retirement in October to help the team out, playing in six games total. He, along with Yannick Carter are the special teams aces in Hamilton. Hood is a converted defensive back who led the team in special teams tackles a year ago. Kanya is also a special teams player, while Jean-Mary was a draft pick last season.
Defensive backs – Ryan Hinds (New Hampshire), Ray Wladichuk (Simon Fraser), Chris Rwabukamba (Duke), Marc Beswick (Saint Mary’s) – Beswick led the CFL in special teams tackles in 2011 while dressing as a back-up at the halfback position. Hinds was one of the two starting cornerbacks for the club as he played opposite of import Marcell Young. He missed the final six regular season games due to injury. Wladichuk lines up as a back-up safety and also primarily a special teams player. Rwabukamba was selected in the 2010 draft by the Tabbies, but returned to finish his education at Duke that year. He was largely a practice roster player in 2011, recording one special teams tackle the entire year.
Special teams - Josh Maveety (K, Bishop’s), Luca Congi (K, Simon Fraser), Neil Puffer (LS, Queen’s), Kevin Scott (LS, Queen’s) – Congi was released by the Riders earlier this year after missing the entire 2011 season due to an injury suffered late in the 2010 season. Maveety was brought to Hamilton last season, but was a practice roster hideaway. Puffer is a new addition to the team, signing with the Tiger-Cats in April. Scott was the team’s long snapper last season after they signed him early in training camp.
Overall Analysis – The Ti-Cats have three excellent receivers on the team, but I still feel that they may look to build on that depth with a pick in the mid to late rounds. A likely option for the 3rd overall pick, should they keep it is an offensive lineman. They already have Moe Petrus in the system as a futures pick from last year. They can afford to wait on Austin Pasztor if need be, but if they feel that the pick has to show up in June, then Calgary’s Kirby Fabien, or Western’s Matt Norman could be the pick.
The Ti-Cats will likely address some needs on the defensive side of the ball as well. After former Saskatchewan Huskie Dylan Barker retired due to injury, perhaps they stay within the program and take Keenan MacDougall with their 2nd pick. How confident are they that Congi or Maveety can be their guy at kicker? Is Austin Anderson a possibility as well?
10 Potential Picks: Austin Pasztor (OL), Kirby Fabien (OL), Matt Norman (OL), Justin Capicciotti (DL), Jake Thomas (DL), Rene Stephan (LB), Jordan Verdone (LB), Keenan MacDougall (DB), Bogdan Raic (WR), Austin Anderson (K)