The national combine can substantially impact prospects’ draft grades and after teams have reviewed the film, there are some athletes who have put themselves in the first-round discussion.
Receivers Mark Chapman, Rashaun Simonise, offensive lineman Ryan Hunter, Trey Rutherford, Peter Goder, Dakoda Shepley, Mark Korte, David Knevel and defensive lineman Julien Laurent all went in the first round in CFL mock draft 1.0. Based on pure talent that group deserves to be top picks, but the CFL talent grab is unique and NFL considerations must be factored into the final decision.
Through the combine process, five other players put themselves in the first round discussion.
Arnaud Gendron-Dumouchel, OL, Montreal
The 6-foot-9, 310-pound offensive lineman has the rare combo of towering size and fluid movement skills. Gendron-Dumouchel acquitted himself well in the one-on-one reps against the top defensive lineman in the 2018 class. The performance in Winnipeg by the imposing Carabins product jumped him up the board. Visions of the next Matt O’Donnell are bouncing around in evaluators heads.
Godfrey Onyeka, DB, Laurier
Confidence oozed out of Onyeka before the combine including his desire to be selected No. 1 overall. He backed that up over the showcase weekend in the Manitoba capital. Length, speed and quickness were evident while Onyeka locked down most receivers – except for Mark Chapman. Onyeka is fiercely physical which has some scouts believing the best fit at the pro level might be at linebacker and if that’s the case Onyeka would be viewed as the top player in that position group.
Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, DB, Laurier
Scouts knew Guzylak-Messam was physical, but there were questions to be answered about his speed and the Golden Hawks defensive back answered them quickly – literally. He ran the fastest 10- (1.54 seconds) and 20-yard (2.48 seconds) and 40-yard (4.51) hand times proving his acceleration and long speed are pro-ready. Those traits make it easy to view Guzylak-Messam as a starter at safety or field corner. Note: There is no relation to Riders running back Jerome Messam.
Jackson Bennett, DB/LB, Ottawa
The versatile Gee-Gees defender was the quickest (4.09 shuttle and 7.02 three-cone) and strongest (22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press) defensive back at the CFL combine. Bennett blazed a 4.48 40-yard time at his Ottawa pro day. All of that speed, be in short distance or long, has improved Bennett’s final draft grade and made him a near lock to go in round one. There are personnel men who believe Bennett moves more smoothly than Antoine Pruneau who was selected fourth overall in the 2014 CFL draft by the Redblacks – Ottawa traded up to ensure getting Pruneau.
Jordan Beaulieu, DB, Western
Beaulieu has a chiselled frame and the athletism to go along with it, 35.5-inch vertical ranked first among all the defensive backs at the national event and his 4.57 laser-timed 40 from the Ontario regional flashed his speed. The Montreal native presented himself well in team interviews – arguably the most important aspect of the combine – as teams came away feeling Beaulieu already operates in a professional manner. He could be an immediate contributor on special teams while developing as a starter at safety who could be rangy in the secondary.