The more I sit here and look at these depth charts for Fridays Pre-Season Finale, the more I get excited for a guy like Rory Connop.
What an opportunity!
There’s been plenty of talk about the Stampeders having to fill the position left by all-star centre Brett Jones, but Calgary’s replacement for that vacated spot is, by no means, easy money! Pierre Lavertu was the most coveted Offensive Linemen on the board during last year’s 2014 CFL Draft, and now looks poised to transition seamlessly into the anchor position of that StampsOline.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders 3rd round selection (26th overall)is about to get a chance to measure himself up against one of the toughest Guard-Centre-Guard combos in the league. Lavertu got plenty of experience under his belt last season, appearing in 15 games; and when you throw him in with returning linemen Shane Bergman (#60) and Spencer Wilson (#50) you get the base of the most efficient running game in the CFL. Everything for Calgary starts upfront, and there’s no better time than the present for Connop to make his reads, get his pads low and knock guys back. We’ve talked about #95’s skillset in our ProPerspective breakdown of the Rider defensive linemen. The defending Grey Cup Champions play the exact style of ball that Connop is built for. He wants to grind it out and get as physical as possible.
I personally think he’s gonna be just fine in his first test against Jon Cornish’s personal security detail. He’ll have his bumps in the road on Friday night, but that’s to be expected of a first year player. After seeing his performance on tape against Edmonton,he’s had a week to shore up any technical issues they saw on film. It’s been such an advantage for the coaching staff to use the depth of the defensive line in camp to bring Connop along slowly. The way that they’ve rotated Connop in an out of personnel groupings has given him time to get a feel for what he needs to do in order to contribute, versus scrambling to get everything down at once. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t been spoon-fed by any means, however he’s been afforded the chance to build a solid foundation using the tools that he came into Saskatchewan with.
Take a look at him on Friday folks. For what it’s worth, I thought he looked like a way better bet draft-wise than his Western counterpart Daryl Waud who was taken at 12th overall. I’m not a professional scout, but it seemed as though many of Wauds plays were a direct result of the things Rory Connop was doing, but realistically I only had Youtube highlight films and a couple of games to go off of.
If you’re a purist, see how he plays individual blocks, and if he’s able to hit and shed quickly. Check out whether he’s able to drop his hips and hold the line of scrimmage during double teams. That’s all part of the deal when you’re battling it out in the trenches. He’ll come along as a pass rusher. Connop's more than capable of pushing the pocket, and he's developed a lot under Mike Sinclair. Fortunately his ability to get after a QB will be an added luxury. The Green and White have plenty of guys who can rush the passer, and the pressure packages that Coach Chamblin and Coach Quick have been working on don’t necessarily rely on a bull rushing Nose Tackle.
The phrase, “The kids got a chance” seems to be commonplace for coaches and scouts while assessing a good looking prospect. It’s a perfect one for Rory Connop as well. The kids got a chance!
I hope he’s as excited as some of us watching from the sidelines! What an opportunity…