Quarterbacks -None. The Riders have built up their quarterback depth by adding several former NFL players. With only three picks in the draft, it is highly unlikely that they will draft one.
Running backs – Neal Hughes (Regina), Graeme Bell (Saskatchewan) – After playing full-time on special teams for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Hughes saw his role with the Riders increase when he had 29 offensive touches last season. It worked out well for both Hughes and the Riders offence, and you can probably expect his offensive contributions to continue. Bell was traded from Edmonton to Saskatchewan at last year’s CFL Draft and was a special teams player for the club.
Receivers – Kolten Solomon (Regina Thunder [CJFL]), Jordan Sisco (Regina), Rob Bagg (Queen’s), Scott McHenry (Saskatchewan), Chris Getzlaf (Regina) – Solomon was invited to training camp last year, but was released. Sisco was the team’s 8th overall pick in the 2010 draft, but chose to sign with the Indianapolis Colts before being released in training camp. Bagg was a standout for the Riders in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, helping to form what was known as the “Canadian Air Force”. He missed the entire 2011 season due to injury. Getzlaf started every game for the team last year and had a career year, breaking the 1000 yard mark for the first time and also contributed ten touchdowns. He will be leaned on heavily again in 2012. McHenry played in ten games with the Riders playing on special teams.
Offensive line -Dominic Picard (Laval),Brendon LaBatte (Regina), Chris Best (Waterloo), Dan Clark (Regina), Alex Krausnick-Groh (Calgary), Nick Hutchins (Regina), Patrick Neufeld (Saskatchewan) – Picard was a free agent signing this February and brings several years of excellence at the centre position to the team. LaBatte, a homegrown Saskatchewan talent out of Weyburn signed with the Riders as a free agent in February. He brings a boatload of talent to an offensive line that needed it following the retirement of Gene Makowsky. Chris Best has played in 52 straight games for the Riders, and continues to see his value to the team rise. The club rewarded him with a contract extension this off-season. Clark and Hutchins have spent the majority of their careers watching. Clark has been a practice roster mainstay, while Hutchins was placed on the injured list last season. Krausnick-Groh was the 27th overall draft pick a year ago, and had some playing time late in the 2011 season. It appears he is being groomed to become the eventual starting centre. Neufeld was the team’s 33rd overall pick in 2010. He went back to school that year to finish his education, and dressed in 17 games last season as a back-up.
Defensive line – Shomari Williams (Queen’s), Keith Shologan (Central Florida), Mathieu Boulay (Bishop’s) – Williams was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Riders. He has split time between special teams and defensive plays for the first two seasons in his career. Last year he had 16 tackles and three sacks on defence while contributing 16 special teams tackles as well. Shologan will enter his 5th season with the team this year, coming off arguably his most impressive season in 2011. Shologan started every game for the team at defensive tackle and finished with 26 tackles and a pair of sacks. Boulay signed with the team in May of last year and spent time on the practice roster.
Linebackers – Mike McCullough (St. Francis Xavier) – McCullough is the only Canadian linebacker on the team. He will enter his 10th year with the team this season after being selected 23rd overall in the 2003 draft. He had the first interception of his career in the 2011 season.
Defensive backs – Paul Woldu (Saskatchewan), Graig Newman (Saskatoon Hilltops [CJFL]), Craig Butler (Western) – The Riders are looking as good as ever with their defensive backs, despite only having three of them. Woldu was a starting cornerback with the Alouettes last year and spent the first four seasons of his career with the Als before signing with the Riders as a free agent. Graig Newman attended training camp last season with the team and spent some time on the practice roster before completing his career with the Hilltops. Butler was the team’s 12th overall pick in last year’s draft, and was named a Western Division all-star, contributing 47 tackles and five interceptions in 17 games.
Special teams – Chris Milo (K, Laval), Cory Huclack (LS, Manitoba), Chris Bodnar (P, Regina) – Milo was the Riders 30th overall pick in last year’s draft. He played in 12 games, hitting 84.6% of his field goals. On a windy day in Regina, he tied a CFL record with a 108 yard punt. Bodnar was signed as a free agent in December from the Regina Rams. Huclack was the team’s long-snapper in every game last year, recording 13 tackles on special teams.
Overall analysis – The Riders have made it known that they will be adding to their offensive line depth by selecting Saskatchewan Huskies lineman Ben Heenan with the first overall pick. After that, the Riders only have two draft picks. One in the 3rd round and one in the 6th round. Their options are limited in the draft, but they may look to adding another receiver and possibly a defensive lineman or linebacker. The loss of Andy Fantuz in the receiving corps is known, and while they do have Bagg and Getzlaf, the rest of the group is rather unknown.
10 Potential Picks – Ben Heenan (OL), Simon Charbonneau-Campeau (WR), Johnny Aprile (WR), Jawann Westerman (WR), Bogdan Raic (WR), Jordan Brescacin (WR), Quincy Hurst (WR), Hasan Hazime (DL), David Lee (DL), Wilkerson Desouza (LB)