With players like Kevin Glenn, the Redblacks appear ahead of the Renegades.The new format for the CFL's latest expansion draft was intended to ensure that the 2013 version of the Ottawa football club didn't start out as badly as the 2002 version that ended up 4-14 in its inaugural season.
Barring something disastrous happening between now and the opening of training camp, it's a case of mission accomplished. The Redblacks won't necessarily be any better than the Renegades -- a lot can happen between now and the next Grey Cup -- but they're certainly off to a better start.
The two main reasons are at the most important position on the field: quarterback.
Back in 2002, the Renegades were faced with drafting essentially the rest of the league's fourth-string quarterbacks. That left them to choose untested guys like Romaro Miller and Jason Gesser. None of the quarterbacks they selected had played a game in the CFL, a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
This time, thanks to teams being allowed to protect only one quarterback, the Redblacks have Kevin Glenn and Thomas DeMarco. The former has played in more than 200 CFL games and has been a starter most of the last nine years. At 35, he still has some gas left in the tank so it's not like they drafted Jason Maas or Damon Allen.
Considering he was basically the No. 1 guy for the best regular-season team in the West last season, the Redblacks should be able to count on him to win a few games. He should be an excellent tutor for DeMarco, who is still pretty green but has at least started games in the CFL and won't be stunned when he sees a 12th player on defence.
Whether the Redblacks fared any better than the Renegades in the rest of the draft is debatable, partly because the rules for selecting imports (8) and non-imports (16) were basically the same. The Renegades came up with some pretty good imports -- offensive lineman Seth Dittman, defensive end Fred Perry and linebacker John Grace -- and may actually done better than the RedBlacks in that department. The only import names that really stand out this time are defensive end Moton Hopkins and running back Chevon Walker.)
But in the CFL, you're only as good as your non-imports and that's where the Redblacks appear to have one-upped their late ancestors. The Renegades drafted some pretty good Canadians -- offensive linemen Carl Coulter and George Hudson along with linebackers Kelly Lochbaum and Kelly Wiltshire -- but arguably none was as coveted as defensive end Keith Shologan.
Throw in the likes of versatile lineman J'Micheal Deane, fullback Patrick Lavoie, centre Marwan Hage, wide receiver Rory Kohlert and safety Eric Fraser and the Redblacks are off to a solid start in building a competitive roster.