Each CFL combine offers the opportunity for prospects to become instant stars.
Danny Vandervoort, Taylor Loffler and Chris Ackie cemented their status as top picks in recent years, but the setting can offer a chance for players who didn’t make the CFL’s scouting bureau to put themselves on the top of scouts’ minds.
Two recent examples jump out. Receiver Shaquille Johnson blazed a 4.39 40-yard time in 2016 and the Lions picked Johnson in the fourth round, 32nd overall during the 2016 CFL draft. He’s developed into a starting calibre playmaker in the league. Defensive back Tunde Adeleke was the fastest man at the 2017 combine and Calgary took notice selecting him in the third round, 25th overall. Heading into Adeleke’s sophomore season he’s tabbed as the Stampeders starting safety.
Both Johnson and Adeleke climbed the board thanks to their speed and athleticism. Many of the under-the-radar prospects will be looking to do the same over the course of the weekend in Winnipeg. Here are five players that could leave a lasting impression on personnel men.
1) Atlee Simon, RB, Regina
Simon has intriguing potential because of his versatility. He has a sprinting background, pro frame, and played in an offence at Regina with Noah Picton that is CFL-style. The combine provides an opportunity for Simon to make his case to be the first running back off the board.
2) Marco Dubois, REC, Laval
Dubois is a rare talent at receiver because he will have the ability to contribute on special teams at the CFL level instantly. He didn’t get an invite to the 2017 USports East-West Bowl, but his frame and athletic ability give him the potential to be a legitimate receiver in the CFL. Those traits should show out at the combine.
3) Bo Banner, DL, Central Washington
Banner knows how to rush the passer as evidenced by the twelve sacks he recorded as a senior at Central Washington. Expect a dazzling performance in the one-on-one session that could help him earn a spot on the league’s next scouting bureau ranking (as a late addition to the 2018 draft class, Banner was not yet eligible for the latest bureau ranking). Scouts know that he can get around the edge with his quickness, but if he can display some power his stock will rise.
4) Mickael Cote, LB, Concordia
Cote bested Nelkas Kwemo, the only linebacker currently ranked on the scouting bureau, in every testing category at last year’s USports East-West Bowl except for the bench press. Cote and Kwemo should put up better numbers at the combine, but the Concordia product has a head start.
5) Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, DB, Laurier
Messam played on the same side of the field as Godfrey Onyeka — the draft’s sixth-rated prospect and top-ranked defensive back — and has somehow gone largely unnoticed. He was a second-team OUA all-star who sports a broad build and the physicality to be an intimidating safety. Some teams are quietly raving about his film and a performance to back-up what the eye in the sky sees would jump him up the board.