The Montreal Alouettes seem to enjoy stockpiling defensive backs from the Calgary Stampeders organization.
As I reported on Wednesday morning, the Als added All-Star corner back Ciante Evans to their training camp roster. Evans spent the last four years with the Calgary Stampeders, but he had a four-game stint with the AAF’s Salt Lake Stallions during the winter.
The 26-year-old was a CFL All-Star in 2016 and 2017 and he was named a West Division All-Star last season. He also played in each of the last three Grey Cup title games including last year’s game which the Stamps won (see the video below for the interception he made in that game).
There was virtually no chatter of Evans coming to Montreal leading up to Wednesday morning, so the move came as a bit of a surprise. But when you look at the last two off-seasons, the Als have made a point of plucking defensive backs from the Stamps. Last winter they signed Joe Burnett (he was released this winter) and Tommie Campbell from Calgary, and this year they inked Patrick Levels to a deal (Levels is expected to replace Chip Cox at the SAM linebacker position).
Back in 2016, Campbell and Evans were the corners on the CFL All-Star team. They’ll now look to accomplish that feat with their new team this season.
I know many fans are concerned about the pass rush, but it’s not exactly raining quarterback hunters outside of general manager Kavis Reed’s window. Is defensive end still a need for this team? Yes. But with a salary cap of $5 million, every team is bound to have holes. That’s not to say Reed is done making moves, but this might be it when it comes to significant acquisitions before the start of the regular season.
If this team struggles to get to the quarterback, having capable cover guys might help give their defensive ends some added time to disrupt the opposing offence. It’s hard to fault the Alouettes for not bringing in proven defensive lineman like Micah Johnson or Willie Jefferson because the reported price on those players was through the roof.
So what are the Als getting in Evans?
It’s quite simple. He’s among the elite cover corners in the CFL. He and Campbell should provide the Als with arguably the best cornerback duo in the league. Add NFL veterans Sheldon Price and Marcus Cromartie to the fold, and you have a secondary that’s big and physical.
It’s very clear that this secondary is going to look a whole lot different than it did last year. So in order to lessen the time it takes for the group to gel, Reed decided to reunite two players in Campbell and Evans that are comfortable together and familiar with each other. They’ll likely play at opposite sides of the field (Campbell will play on the boundary side), but it’ll be good for them to see familiar faces in those defensive-back meetings.
Again, I realize this team is missing a rush-end, but this defence looks pretty good on paper. Woody Baron might not be a household name yet, but he’s quickly becoming one of the elite defensive tackles in the CFL and Ryan Brown had a strong end to the season on the defensive line. The linebacker group will be made up of Levels (SAM), Henoc Muamba (MIKE) and newcomer Bo Lokombo (WILL), who joined the team in free agency.
Now the big question is whether or not new defensive coordinator Bob Slowik can familiarize himself with the CFL quirks. How quickly can he pick up the motion the opponents will be throwing his way?
That’s where the biggest challenge will come from for this unit.
(Feature Imagine Credit: Stampeders.com)