During the 2023 free-agency period, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats acquired talent to build a championship-caliber roster. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and running back James Butler are proven CFL players that have the potential to lead the Tiger-Cats to the most successful season they have had in several years. Defensively, they added several key players to their defensive line with Ja’Gared Davis and their linebacking unit with Jameer Thurman and Chris Edwards.
If the Tiger-Cats intend to win the Grey Cup, acquiring talent is only part of the roster-building puzzle. Regardless of the skill the Tiger-Cats have received, the reality is that they will need to have a structure in place to deal with injuries and have enough roster depth to maintain a high level of performance when multiple injuries occur within a position group. Therefore, the CFL Draft is an excellent opportunity for teams to acquire talent that will allow them to insulate their teams from damage during the season.
With roster depth in mind, the Tiger-Cats have three position groups that need more talent added. Offensive linemen, defensive backs, and wide receivers are position groups that require Hamilton to have readily available solutions to injuries and player availability. In addition, the 2023 CFL Draft features several players who can fill multiple roles and help Hamilton strengthen their roster.
The only pitfall of the CFL Draft is that, unlike the NFL Draft, several eligible players may not consider the CFL as their first playing option. Therefore, when Hamilton selects players, they will need to determine if they need players that will have a chance to make an immediate impact or will require the Tiger-Cats to be patient with players that may explore other options and never become Tiger-Cat players. So the balance that the Tiger-Cats need to find is players that are talented enough to compete in the CFL but also willing to play in the CFL rather than looking for other more lucrative opportunities.
The Tiger-Cats have recently invested heavily in rebuilding their offensive line after years of struggling with depth and injury issues. Offensive linemen are one of the most valuable commodities in the CFL, and with only one draft pick in the first three rounds of the 2023 draft, it would make sense to use that pick to pick up a foundational lineman.
Several offensive linemen, including Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse), Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan), and Dontae Bull (Fresno State), could be tempting for the Tiger-Cats. They all have elite size and have played top-level competition at the NCAA FBS level. As a result, all three linemen could receive the opportunity to join an NFL team as undrafted free agents. In addition, Dontae Bull finished his senior season at Fresno State with a broken leg, and it will be difficult to predict when he will be available if he chooses to join the Tiger-Cats.
A more sensible option would be to draft Phillip Grohovac from Western. Grohovac successfully performed at the CFL Combine, and Western has a reputation for developing high-performing linemen at the U Sports level. The native of Victoria, BC, could grow into being a foundational part of the Tiger-Cat’s offensive line for the next several seasons.
With the remaining Tiger-Cats CFL draft picks coming in the 4th and 5th rounds, Hamilton will most likely need to pick the “best available” players remaining in the draft.
The Tiger-Cats currently have a solid group of wide receivers, but the players in this position group are valuable components to use for roles on special teams. Injuries are also a common issue with CFL receivers, and it would be ideal to have as many weapons as possible around Bo Levi Mitchell. It is difficult to predict which receivers will be available in the late draft rounds, but it is a good position group to draft with the mindset of choosing the “best-available” talent.
Like the receiver talent pool, defensive backs are valuable at their primary position and suitable candidates to become special teams’ playmakers. The Tiger-Cats lost more talent than they added in the defensive backfield during free agency, which provides opportunities for young players to get on the field and make an impact. The CFL combine demonstrated a healthy amount of talented players at defensive back that are available for the 2023 CFL Draft.
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