Can Burnham and Lokombo Power the Lions to Greater Heights in 2021?
The 2019 CFL season was one to forget for the BC Lions.
Just five wins from eighteen games – including a 0-10 record in the West Division – reveals a side that was well below-par and a million miles from being competitive.
Fast forward a couple of years and there is an opportunity for a refresh, and with Rick Campbell – a three-time Grey Cup winner, remember – taking the helm for the first time positive advancement is expected.
Some dynamism in the trade market and free agency will help take the Lions forward as well, and while we await further news on that front the good news is that Campbell and co-GM Neil McEvoy have already moved to re-sign three important players for the franchise.
Bryan Burnham, the outstanding receiver, actually heads into the 2021 campaign on the back of a career-high turn two years ago. He served up the magic 100 as far as receptions are concerned, carrying 1,492 yards and delivering eleven touchdowns – those performances were rewarded with All Star status, which was remarkable given the Lions’ incompetence out on the turf.
Bo Lokombo returns for a third spell at the club after being released by Toronto. The powerhouse tackler was last seen turning out for the Montreal Alouettes in 2019, for whom he delivered 51 tackles and two interceptions.
The 30-year-old became an All Star in his second season with the Lions in his initial spell after dominating with 48 tackles. Such are his talents, that he has been on the fringes of a place on NFL rosters in the past, including stints on the practice teams of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Lokombo’s explosive defensive play and higher-level experience will serve BC very nicely.
And finally, a word each for Isaiah Guzylak-Messam and Chris Casher, who have both signed contract extensions. The 25-year-old Guzylak-Messam announced himself as something of an enforcer in 2019, registering more than 50 combined defensive and special teams tackles as he tried manfully to help BC be more competitive.
Casher, meanwhile, is yet to make his debut, but he was excellent for the Stampeders in 2019, and so Lions supporters will be excited to see what he can bring to the defense. The 27-year-old boasts an outstanding college football resumé, and was part of the Florida State team that went all the way to the BCS National Championship game. Given how lowly Florida are ranked these days in the outright NCAA American football odds, that shows a measure of their, and Casher’s, achievement.
Signing new players will be crucial for the advancement of the Lions in 2021, but never underestimate the importance of keeping hold of your finest talents into the bargain.
A Recruitment Drive
The back office team at the Lions have already been working hard to enhance the roster for the upcoming season.
Victor Salako is an absolute giant of a man at 6ft 6in and 335lbs, but he has a pleasing turn of speed and the offensive linebacker has been watched with interest by the Eagles, the Bills, and the Giants in stints in their practice rosters.
Alex Wesley could dovetail nicely with Burnham as a wide receiver if he can fulfil the undoubted potential he showed in college football with Northern Colorado. He returned consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in 2018, so despite failing to make the grade at the Chicago Bears this is a guy with plenty of upside.
Both have signed on the dotted line with the Lions for 2021, and with recent NFL training experience they will surely prove to be wily acquisitions to go with those key figures returning for another year in BC. With more new faces expected, these are exciting times indeed.