The Edmonton Eskimos had a successful decade in the 2010s, with many good seasons and stellar players. Their banner season was 2015 with their first division title since 2003 and their first Grey Cup win since 2005. They played in a West Final six times during their seven playoff appearances. Here are the top players of the decade for the team:
Number One? Easy
1. Mike Reilly: The signal-caller came over from the B.C. Lions in 2013 and would become one of the top pivots of the decade in green and gold. He won league M.O.P. in 2017, in which he led the league in passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and passing yards.
It was part of a three-year stretch in which he led the league in passing yards every year from 2016–18. He was rightfully named a CFL All-Star in 2017 and was also a West All-Star in 2014. He led the Eskimos back to the Grey Cup championship after a decade without one in 2015 and was named the game’s M.V.P. This is a no brainer.
Rest of the Top Five
2. Almondo Sewell: One of the most underrated presences of the decade, Sewell has been a force on the defensive line since 2012. The disruptive interior lineman has been named a West All-Star every year since 2012 except for 2018 and a CFL All-Star from 2013–17 and in 2019. He has 282 tackles and 60 sacks so far in his CFL career, reaching double-digit sacks with 11 in 2016.
3. Adarius Bowman: There are many candidates for the top receiver of the decade for Edmonton. However, Bowman gets the highest spot. He had four 1,000-yard seasons in his seven seasons with the Eskimos and was arguably the most dominant force in the league on the outside from 2014–16 as a three-time CFL and West All-Star. In 2016 he had his best year with 120 catches for 1,761 yards and nine touchdowns.
4. JC Sherritt: A tough as nails middle linebacker he led the middle of the defence for seven years (missed most of 2017 with an injury). Sherritt was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player (M.O.D.P.) in 2012 with 122 tackles. This got him West and CFL All-Star recognition. He finished his career with 507 tackles and 15 sacks, as well as 14 interceptions and one defensive touchdown in 2016.
5. Fred Stamps: While Bowman takes the top receiver of the decade, Stamps certainly comes close. He had four straight 1,000-yard seasons for the Esks from 2010–13, catching 33 touchdowns in those four seasons. However, his highest mark was 82 receptions. He was a four-time West All-Star from 2010–13 and three-time CFL All-Star from 2011–13. He was also the Eskimos’ M.O.P in 2010.
Middle of the Pack
6. Matt O’Donnell: O’Donnell has been on Edmonton since 2012 and was a CFL All-Star and West All-Star in 2017; the massive lineman has been a steady presence in the successful teams of this decade. There is no way that the prolific offences that were a hallmark of the team this decade would have happened without a solid front line, and O’Donnell has been the anchor of that front.
7. Odell Willis: One of the top pass rushers in the league during his time in Edmonton, Willis played five seasons for the green and gold. He was a CFL All-Star in 2014, tying his career-high with 13 sacks. In five seasons he grabbed 46 sacks, over nine per season. In five years he totaled 126 tackles with Edmonton.
8. Sean Whyte: There have been times where Whyte has been the most important player on the Eskimos offence in recent years. He has been deadly accurate, dipping below 90% accuracy on field goals just once (87% in 2019). While special teams don’t always get the recognition they deserve, there is no doubt Whyte deserves a place up here.
The Final Two
9. Derel Walker: Walker played four seasons in green and gold from 2015–18. He crossed 1,000 yards twice, is a two-time CFL All-Star, and three-time Western All-Star after catching 26 touchdowns. In 2015 he was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie with 89 catches for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns. He improved upon those marks in his second season with 109 catches, 1,589 yards and ten touchdowns — all career bests.
10. Aaron Grymes: Grymes first came to the Eskimos in 2013 and played three years in the green and gold. He eventually left for an NFL opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. His 2015 campaign was his best in Edmonton, receiving West and CFL All-Star nods. After a year with the Eagles Grymes came back to Edmonton in 2017 and played another two seasons. He is the top defensive back of the decade for the green and gold. As an Edmonton Eskimo, he had 11 interceptions and 181 tackles.
Kwaku Boateng: Boateng played three seasons for the Eskimos, tallying 21 sacks and 67 tackles. In 2019 he was the team’s M.O.D.P. Boateng has been brilliant so far and should find himself on the next decade team, but was a tough one to leave off the top 10.
C.J. Gable: Gable played three years for Edmonton and crossed the thousand-yard mark each of the past two seasons. While the receivers get all the attention, Gable was a crucial cog for Edmonton. Still, it wasn’t quite enough to crack the list.
Brandon Zylstra: Zylstra was brilliant during two seasons in the green and gold, catching 100 passes for 1687 yards in 2017. In total, he caught eight touchdowns and 134 balls for 2,195 yards with Edmonton. Zylstra left for an NFL opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings.
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