With the 2016 season one week from wrapping up, it’s time to start looking back on the year that was. In the spirit of review, Last Word on Canadian Football will take a look at who we feel should win the Most Outstanding Player award for each team in the CFL. To make it more interesting we have excluded quarterbacks from the MOP candidacy to highlight other positions. Last week featured the candidates for the East Division teams while this week will cover the West Division MOP Candidates.
West Division MOP Candidates
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Maurice Leggett (49 Tackles, 7 Interceptions, 1 Sack)
In a year where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally delivered a winning season to their long embattled fans, the fantastic play of Maurice Leggett is pure icing on the cake. A productive player the past two years, Leggett took off in 2016 with his league leading 7 interceptions and 3 defensive touchdowns. Now an established veteran and leader for the defence, Leggett has become one of the elite defenders in the CFL. With the Bombers returning to the playoffs, look for Leggett to amp up his game even further.
Runner-ups: Taylor Loffler, Andrew Harris, Justin Medlock
Edmonton Eskimos – Adarius Bowman (120 Receptions, 1761 Receiving Yards, 9 Touchdowns)
Say what you will about Adarius Bowman’s penchant for dropping passes, the man is an absolute beast on the field. When Bowman is dialed in defensive backs never have a chance at stopping his mammoth frame from snatching the ball away or simply out muscling them. Despite the abundance of offensive weapons that the Edmonton Eskimos can bring to bear (see the Runner-ups below), Bowman is always the biggest threat on the field. With a couple more ultra productive seasons like this it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bowman get Hall of Fame consideration.
Runner-ups: Derel Walker, John White, Sean Whyte
British Columbia Lions – Emmanuel Arceneaux – (95 Receptions, 1386 Receiving Yards, 11 Touchdowns)
The hardest team to pick an MOP from in the West Division, the British Columbia Lions are loaded with talented players that perfectly compliment each other. After much deliberation the nod should go to Emmanuel Arceneaux, the leader of the Lions passing attack. Arceneaux has easily had the best season of his six year career and the veteran’s dominance in the air has opened up the Lions #1 ranked ground game. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Arceneaux’s stellar year is his 11 touchdown catches which leads the entire CFL. When your top wide out can put up big yardage as well as touchdowns, no lead will ever be safe.
Runner-ups: Chris Rainey, Solomon Elimimian, Adam Bighill
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Thaddeus Coleman (17 Starts at Left and Right Tackle)
In a year where the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been defined by who is not on the field it is Thaddeus Coleman, one of the few players who was always available, that gets the MOP. While offensive linemen rarely get the credit they deserve, Coleman’s impact on the team is worthy of special attention. Playing every game this season at multiple positions across the offensive line, Coleman was one of the few players that successfully fought off injury and the rebuilding mentality. The Rider’s record is not something to cheer for, but the efforts of hardworking players like Coleman will set the foundation for a great team in 2017.
Runner-ups: Naaman Roosevelt, Justin Cox, Tyler Crapigna
Calgary Stampeders – Jerome Messam ( 1198 Rushing Yards, 485 Receiving Yards, 12 Total Touchdowns)
The Calgary Stampeders came within one game of making CFL history for the most wins in a single season, and a big part of that effort was the play of Jerome Messam. The hard charging running back was a force moving the chains as well as catching passes out of the backfield, all while providing solid pass protection. Fun Fact: Despite his power runner status, Messam was second in the league with runs of 10 yards or more and first in the CFL in runs of at least 20 yards. When you have a chess piece like Messam who can block, catch, and get the hard yards as well as the home runs, you can feel pretty good about how your team will perform on game day.
Runner-ups: Charleston Hughes, Marquay McDaniel, DaVaris Daniels
Who do you think deserves the MOP for each Eastern team? Leave a comment below!