LIVE CFL DRAFT COVERAGE 2023
A popular topic of discussion this off-season in the CFL is the quarterback situation for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Tiger-Cats started the conversation when they acquired the rights to quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell in a trade with the Stampeders. It is not clear on whether or not the Tiger-Cats will be able to successfully acquire Mitchell for their 2023 roster.
In addition, a rumor has been being discussed that Dane Evans will be the next quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but many rumors in December had Mitchell going to the Stampeders. Dane Evans still has one-year remaining on his contract with Hamilton so any move involving Evans will require either a trade or his release from the Tiger-Cats roster. What is clear, is that no one (including the Tiger-Cats coaching staff) is sure who will be the quarterback for Hamilton is 2023.
When evaluating and acquiring personnel professional football teams, like the Tiger-Cats, use a scouting system to determine which players they want to pursue. To accurately evaluate personnel it is important to establish a set of criteria that they franchise values in a player for a specific position.
In this article we will be establishing the metric, Quarterback Rating, as a tool for determining which quarterbacks currently available in the CFL could be the best player to lead the Tiger-Cats offence in 2023. We will be limiting this ranking of prospects to five quarterbacks that could be the most realistic options for Hamilton to acquire.
#1 Matt Shiltz – 2022 Quarterback Rating = 98.5
Matt Shiltz spent the 2022 season as a backup quarterback for the Tiger-Cats, and has been a career backup so far in his CFL experience. So as a backup Shiltz’s opportunities were limited based on specific game and injury situations. With limited opportunities, the 6’2″ 205-pound and 30 year old quarterback had 85 completions on 119 attempts for 935 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. He also ran the ball 28 times for 152 yards and a touchdown. While Shiltz may not have the intangibles to be the full-time playcaller for the Tiger-Cats offence, he has the ability to run the offence effectively and at minimium should be retained as the backup quarterback for Hamilton.
#2 Cody Fajardo – 2022 Quarterback Rating = 95.4
Cody Fajardo is an established CFL quarterback, and he produced several successful season while leading the offence for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Fajardo is a free-agent as of February 14th, and there is very little discussion about where he could end up for the 2023 season. As the leader of the Roughriders offence, Fajardo had 282 completions on 401 attempts for 3,360 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Fajardo also ran the ball 81 times for 357 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. The Tiger-Cats recent history shows that they have been successful with a dual-threat quarterback. Fajardo would be the best dual-threat style quarterback that will be available during the free agency period.
#3 McLeod Bethel-Thompson – 2022 Quarterback Rating = 94.3
While leading the Toronto Argonauts through the 2022 season, Bethel-Thompson had a successful season. Unfortunately, the last memory we have of Bethel-Thompson’s 2022 season is being benched in the Grey Cup game as backup quarterback Chad Kelly lead the Argonauts to a Grey Cup victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. If you remove the Grey Cup game from memory, Bethel-Thompson had 387 completions on 579 attempts producing 4,731 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also had 35 rushing attempts for 166 yards which gives him 4.74 yards/rush attempt. Bethel-Thompson will be a free agent, and if the Tiger-Cats could successfully sign him, it would intensify the rivalry between Hamilton and Toronto.
#4 Dane Evans – 2022 Quarterback Rating = 90.2
If you only look at Dane Evans passing stats, it is easy to see that he could potentially be the best quarterback in the CFL. In 2022, he had 305 completions on 457 attempts producing 3,883 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 59 rush attempts for 202 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. Evans has a lot of positives, but he also has a poise problem, his turnover stats are overwhelming with 16 interceptions and a load of lost fumbles. Evans is a streaky passer, and when the moment gets big he tends to turnover the ball over and fade away. For the Tiger-Cats Evans’ number of turnovers is why Hamilton has interest in making changes in their quarterback position for the 2023 season.
#5 Bo Levi Mitchell – 2022 Quarterback Rating = 87.2
From a fan perspective, Bo Levi Mitchell is the holy grail of Tiger-Cats quarterback prospects. Mitchell has won Grey Cup championships with the Stampeders, and he has multiple Most Outstanding Player awards. So why is he available rather than being re-signed by Calgary? Injuries and a big dropoff in production in 2022 lead to Mitchell being benched by the Stampeder in favour of a younger quarterback in Jake Maier. While battling injuries and being benched, Mitchell did have 160 completions on 261 attempts and 2,010 passing yards. He threw for 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, and had 7 rush attempts for 26 yards. The question about Mitchell lies in his view of his own ability, and more importantly how much he feels that he needs to be paid to become a leader of the Tiger-Cats offence.
The Tiger-Cats decision at how they will approach the decision process of choosing their 2023 starting quarterback is difficult to decipher. Anyone of these quarterbacks could be their choice at quarterback, but there is also a chance that the Tiger-Cats fail to acquire Mitchell and go in a completely different direction. Regardless of which quarterback is their choice, the player they sign will face the task of improving an offence that could on any given day be the best in the CFL or the worst in the CFL. As the Tiger-Cats complete the evaluation process in preparation of the free-agency period, it will be interesting to see what characteristics are valued the most by the Hamilton coaching staff for their offence.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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January 23, 2023 at 11:24 am
You realize Bethel Thompson was removed from the 2022 Grey Cup due to an injury to his throwing hand. He was not “ Benched”. Check your facts.