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April 2, 2020

Positional Breakdown – Defensive Line

The Eskimos’ defensive line is almost an embarrassment of riches.

Are there any defensive alignments that require five, six or seven players?

Despite losing defensive end Nick Usher to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders plus role players Jesse Joseph and Kendal Vickers, the Eskimos still have Kwaku Boateng, 24, at defensive end, along with West Division all-stars Almondo Sewell, 33, and Mike Moore, 26 at defensive tackle.

Boateng, who had 20 defensive tackles and eight quarterback sacks in his third season last year, is a rising star who has been named the Eskimos’ top Canadian player each of the last two years. Sewell, with 35 tackles and eight sacks, didn’t show any signs of slowing down in his ninth CFL season while Moore keeps getting better every year, recording 23 tackles and a team-high nine sacks in his third season with the Esks in 2019.

Jake Ceresna, 25, rejoined the Eskimos late last season after an unsuccessful NFL tryout with the New York Giants. The six-foot-five, 295-pounder had 32 tackles and eight sacks at defensive tackle with the Green and Gold in 2018.

Mathieu Betts, Edmonton’s first-round draft pick (third overall) last year, was a two-time Vanier Cup champion before attending the Chicago Bears’ NFL training camp last year. He joined the Esks on Sept. 9 and picked up a defensive tackle, two sacks and forced a fumble in six games (one start).

The Eskimos also welcomed interior defensive lineman Stefan Charles, their 2013 second-round draft pick (10th overall), into the fold last September. The 31-year-old Charles (six-five, 323 pounds) played 49 games with five different NFL teams.

Edmonton has invited a host of mostly young American players with no CFL experience to replace some of their departed veterans, including Zachary Barnes (25, six-three, 229 pounds), who played 35 games at Texas Tech from 2013-17;  Dewayne Beckford (29, six-one, 228) out of Purdue; Jeremiah Clarke (24, six-five, 315), who played 45 games with North Carolina from 2015-18; Thomas Costigan (22, six-three, 230), who had 26 sacks and forced 13 fumbles in 44 games with Bryant University from 2015-19; Malik Dorton (23, six-two, 280), who played 33 games with USC Trojans from 2015-18; Victor Evans II (23, six-three, 243), who played 35 games at Ole Mill from 2015-18; and Quincy Redmon (26, six-four, 247), who was a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2018.

In addition, the Eskimos have three more Canadian defensive linemen on the roster, including Mark Mackie (25,six-one, 255), an eighth-round draft pick in 2017 who has played 30 games during the past two seasons and was among the team leaders with 13 special teams tackles last year.

Evan Machibroda (23, six-three, 275), a fifth-round draft pick last year, was a two-time First Team All-Canadian at the University of Saskatchewan who will be attending his first CFL training camp while Tariq Lachance (26, six-four, 260) was drafted in the sixth round by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last year.