Bo Levi Mitchell's Emergence Makes Drew Tate Expendable

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Bo Levi Mitchell's Emergence Makes Drew Tate Expendable
Bo Levi Mitchell (Photo: Canadian Press via cfl.ca)

The Calgary Stampeders resume their 2013 season this weekend with a matchup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

After a decisive 37-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers two weekends ago featuring an outstanding performance by third-string quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the quarterback situation remains murky for the Stamps.

Although Calgary head coach John Hufnagel has already announced that Drew Tate is healthy and will be the starter against the Roughriders, the fact that Mitchell's very first CFL start earned him the league's Offensive Player of the Week award means that Calgary has three athletes who can fill that role on any given night.

Kevin Glenn has done an admirable job over the last two years in backing up Tate, including last season when he wound up as Calgary's starter for most of the season after Tate went down with an injury in Week Two. Glenn stepped up and guided the Stamps all the way to the playoffs, then took over again for the Grey Cup when Tate was re-injured in the Western final.

There are a couple realities that Calgary will have to deal with in the coming weeks and months.

The first one is that Tate is proving to be fragile. While he has been a major asset when he's on the field, he has never played in more than 15 games in a season. He has to have a reliable backup waiting in the wings to step in the next time he goes down. 

Right now, that backup is Glenn, but Mitchell could just as easily be that guy if he is capable of continuing to put up the numbers he already has this season.

The second reality is that next year's CFL expansion draft will mean giving up some assets. With the depth of talent that the Stampeders have at quarterback, it is a virtual certainty that the Ottawa Redblacks will snap up one of them.

Given that Glenn is 34 years old, it seems unlikely that Ottawa would take him. Building a new franchise around a player in his mid-30s doesn't make much sense, which means he's probably safe to leave exposed for the draft. That means the Stamps must decide whether to protect Tate or Mitchell.

Drew Tate (Photo: Canadian Press via cfl.ca)

Tate's health is a question mark, although he is right in the prime of his professional life. Mitchell, on the other hand, is younger and has a ton of upside with a few more years to continue to develop.

It seems to me that the right play will be to protect Mitchell and leave Tate available to be taken by the Redblacks.

It also seems to me that Calgary would do well to give Mitchell more time under centre to gain experience if they want to designate him as the quarterback of the future. That means spreading the workload around a little more as this season wears on.

In the meantime, it looks like the lion's share of the snaps will be taken by Tate while Hufnagel crosses his fingers that nothing else happens to his star QB.

August 7 Update: It seems that Drew Tate's arm injury will sideline him for at least one more week. According to CFL.ca, Tate's forearm strain has flared up again this week, putting him on the bench once again. Kevin Glenn gets the nod as the starter while Bo Levi Mitchell will serve as the backup.

 

Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo

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