Ranking CFL’s Quarterbacks
1. Mike Reilly (Edmonton)
Though unorthodox in his throwing motion and style of play, Mike Reilly continues to produce year in and year out. Despite shaky production from Adarius Bowman and not having Derel Walker for a portion of the season, Reilly would go on to throw for 30 touchdowns and 5,830 yards on his way to an MOP campaign. Whether it’s his heart or his skill, it has led Reilly to be the cream of the crop and worthy of being the CFL’s best quarterback.
2. Ricky Ray (Toronto)
This may not age well as the 2018 season progresses but when Ricky Ray is healthy, he can rarely be stopped. Last season saw Ray go for 28 touchdowns and 5,546 yards, hardly a guy who is “too old” or “lost a step”. Many are speculating the recently acquired James Franklin to supplant Ray this season. However, if Ray continues his 2017 production into 2018 he will not give Marc Trestmen any reason to give Franklin the keys.
3. Bo Levi Mitchell (Calgary)
Bo Levi has seen a dip in production since his MOP campaign in 2016. 2017 saw Mitchell throw for the least amount of touchdowns since his 2014 season where he only started 14 games. This past off-season has seen Mitchell delete his Twitter account after this happened in 2017. There is no doubt that Bo Levi has all the tools to be an all-time great Quarterback in the CFL and while he has two straight Grey Cup losses to overcome, Mitchell appears geared up to return to his MOP-form in 2018.
4. Trevor Harris (Ottawa)
This is where it becomes tricky, one could put Matt Nichols here and to be honest it could be subject to a coin flip. Harris put up a good set of numbers last season clocking in with 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and 4,679 yards passing. Despite an inconsistent season as a team, Harris, when healthy, kept this team in contention throughout the season. Not having to look over his shoulder for Henry Burris certainly helps his cause and while he will continue to put up great individual numbers, the wins now need to follow before he can be included with the upper echelon of CFL quarterbacks such as Reilly, Ray and Mitchell.
5. Matt Nichols (Winnipeg)
What is holding Nichols back from becoming an elite quarterback in the CFL is his inability to shake the “game-manager” tag that has followed him throughout his career. And while not necessarily a bad thing, his lack of success in the post season the last two seasons have done little to aid him in that process. Often referred to as the “CFL’s Alex Smith”, Nichols put up career numbers last season with 28 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and 4,472 yards passing. However, his season ended similar to 2016 with a West Semi-Final defeat. In any event, if Nichols puts up similar numbers and is able to will his team to the Grey Cup, look for him to move up the rankings.
6. Zach Collaros (Saskatchewan)
*Braces for impact
Collaros is coming off of his worst season as a professional quarterback. However, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the squad he was with in Hamilton had run its course. It appeared the Ti-Cats were still trying to stretch out the prime of a group that had been to two consecutive Grey Cups (13’&14′), three straight East-Finals (13′-15′) and four straight playoff appearances (13′-16′). The roster had gotten stale and not much was being done around Collaros that put him in a position to succeed. However, on pure optimism alone, it is my belief that a change of scenery, one of the most loaded skill position groups in the CFL and a solid coaching staff will see Collaros return to his 2015 form. Before his season-ending ACL injury, Collaros had put up 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 12 games. First, he will have to beat out Bridge in a QB competition sure to dominate headlines.
7. Jonathon Jennings (B.C.)
At one point he was hailed as the “Canadian Russell Wilson”, but after a tumultuous 2017 season, things have come crashing back down to earth for the young pivot. Similar to Collaros, his supporting cast did him no favours as the Lions boasted one of the worst O-Lines in football last season. However, poor decisions and injuries are also to blame for the poor season Jennings experienced last season throwing for more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (16) and losing his job to veteran Travis Lulay. If Jennings has anything going for him going into 2018 is that Lulay is still recovering from a brutal injury suffered last season, meaning that the keys belong to him for the beginning of the season anyways. There is no doubt the upside Jonathon Jennings has as a starting quarterback in this league, the true question is whether he is able to realize this potential or not.
8. Jeremiah Masoli (Hamilton)
Masoli has slowly built up his repertoire since entering the league in 2013. He has unreal athletic ability and led Hamilton to a strong finish after an 0-8 start led by Collaros. The reason for his low ranking in this list is simply that we have not seen enough of Masoli to put him above starters who have proven themselves over several seasons. Masoli put up an impressive stat line with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 12 games played. 2018 will be the true test for Masoli to see if he is a true #1 starter and if he is able to hold off Manziel and lead the Tiger-Cats back to the playoffs, look for him to jump up the list next season.
9. Brandon Bridge (Saskatchewan)
You do realize you’re reading this on RoughridersDaily right? While it’s tempting to put Travis Lulay, Kevin Glenn, Drew Willy or James Franklin, all of them either have topped out in their careers (Lulay, Glenn, Willy) or haven’t had the opportunity to show what they have yet (Franklin). Bridge would probably be lumped in with Franklin had it not been for Glenn’s poor first half play in a handful of games last season that spurred Bridge into action. An impressive 10 touchdowns 4 interceptions ratio last season and his ability to escape pressure with his legs puts Bridge amongst the Top 9 quarterbacks in the CFL. Bridge just simply needs to continue making plays from the pocket and while the improvisation is fun, it is not sustainable.
Travis Lulay (B.C.), James Franklin (Toronto), Kevin Glenn (Edmonton), Drew Willy (Montreal).