This article is part of our Team Previews series.
2017 record: 6-12
Head coach: Mike Sherman
Drew Willy, QB
2017: 547 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INT, 66 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Tyrell Sutton, RB
2017: 843 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD, 44 receptions, 312 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
B.J. Cunningham, WR
2017: 69 receptions, 1,128 receiving yards, 4 receiving TD
Ernest Jackson, WR
2017: 60 receptions, 767 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD
Chris Williams, WR (from Lions)
2017: 38 receptions, 415 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Ryder Stone, RB (drafted in fifth round)
Darian Durant, QB
2017: 3,233 passing yards, 15 passing TD, 16 INT, 182 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Nik Lewis, SB
2017: 73 receptions, 649 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Brandon Rutley, RB
2017: 291 rushing yards, 17 receptions, 100 receiving yards
Veteran Darian Durant decided to hang up the cleats after just one season in Montreal, so the Alouettes will pivot to another seasoned pro – Drew Willy – in 2018. The 31-year-old signed appeared in six games for Montreal last season, but totaled just 79 pass attempts. Willy has been serviceable but far from spectacular in his six seasons, and he has served as a full-time starter only once, in 2014. He does bring decent mobility to the position, averaging 5.3 yards per rush and posting seven touchdowns in his career.
If Willy struggles this season, the next man up would likely be Matthew Shiltz, who followed up a solid college career at Butler with an inconsistent showing in modest playing time for Montreal last season. The 25-year-old threw for 385 yards over four games and generated an unsightly 1:4 TD:INT.
The Final Word: Willy is clearly the most qualified candidate for the starting job and will line up under center in Week 1 if healthy. His leash could be short though, as he is signed just for 2018. Willy, or whoever is slinging it for the Alouettes, should reap the benefits of a potentially explosive receiving trio consisting of B.J. Cunningham, Ernest Jackson and offseason acquisition Chris Williams, who helps offset the retirement of the venerable Nik Lewis.
Tyrell Sutton appears to have an even clearer path to plenty of work now that primary backup Brandon Rutley has departed Montreal. Sutton already led the Alouettes' ground attack last season, and there isn't any proven depth behind him at present, as even the longest-tenured veteran, Stefan Logan, is mainly a returner who sees only a handful of carries per season. Sutton should once again serve as a nice outlet option in the passing game for whomever is under center. Josh Robinson, Dillon Campbell, and rookie Ryder Stone will compete for reserve spots during training camp.
The Final Word: Sutton's fantasy stock is on the rise thanks to his job security and ability to contribute in the passing game. Defenses will be forced to respect the diverse skill set of the Montreal receiving corps, which could further open running lanes for the talented veteran.
Somewhat lost in the malaise of the Alouettes' mediocre 2017 season was the emergence of B.J. Cunningham, who posted career highs in receptions (69), yards (1,128) and YPC (16.3). His rise helped offset what would have to be termed a disappointing showing by Ernest Jackson, who was coming off back-to-back 80-plus-catch tallies in Ottawa before landing in Montreal last year. Jackson's quarterbacks didn't do him any favors last year, and he certainly has the talent to bounce back.
The most intriguing player in the Alouettes' air attack might well be speed demon Chris Williams, who also is looking to get back on track after falling way short of expectations in his one season with the Lions. Montreal is banking that a change of scenery and system will rekindle the talent that led Williams to four consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns to open his career. An assortment of relatively unproven, but potential-laden, options that includes TJ Graham and Eugene Lewis figure to battle for spots in the latter portion of the depth chart.
The Final Word: There's little question that the Cunningham-Jackson-Williams trio will spearhead what has the potential to be an above-average receiving unit. Cunningham could see a drop from last season's 120 targets with Williams' arrival, but improved quarterback play would likely lead to all three receivers prospering in both season-long and daily formats.
Stefan Logan is back for another season of primary return duties after racking up 2,223 yards between punt and kickoff runbacks in 2017 and adding another 132 on missed field-goal returns. Despite his elusiveness in the open field, Logan surprisingly has only three return touchdowns in his career. Still, he provides plenty of value in formats that count return yardage.
Incumbent kicker Boris Bede has some training camp competition despite a solid season in 2017. A strong punter as well, Bede should prevail over unproven options Zackary Medeiros and Quinn Van Gylswyk, who are likely around in order to help preserve Bede's leg for the regular season. What projects to be an improved Alouettes passing attack could lead to more scoring opportunities for Bede.