Chris Streveler is an athletic freak.
He’s turned in a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, posted a 38.5-inch vertical, and fired off a 10-foot, five-inch broad jump – all at six-foot-two, 209 pounds.
Each of the three testing results would have been top among all quarterbacks who attended the 2018 NFL Combine. But take the QB position designation away for a second, and those numbers would be high among any skill position group – and they are certainly elite for signal callers.
Every single NFL franchise had a representative at Streveler’s pro day in March and he worked out privately for the Chicago Bears but went unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft – he actually turned down NFL rookie mini-camp invites to sign in Winnipeg. The Bombers had known about Streveler for a while, putting his name on the team’s negotiation list while he was a senior at the University of South Dakota: Streveler fits the criteria offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice wants for a signal caller in his offence.
The 23-year-old was a captain and led the Coyotes to the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history as a senior. Streveler completed 65.7 per cent of his passes for 4,134 yards, 32 touchdowns against eight interceptions while rushing for 720 yards and 11 touchdowns on 168 carries (4.3 yards-per-carry-average) during 13 games in his senior season for South Dakota. For his efforts, Streveler was named an FCS first-team All-American at quarterback.
Streveler actually earned a Masters degree in sports management from the University of Minnesota prior to transferring from the Golden Gophers to South Dakota. And he was an FCS Academic All-Star team selection in Vermillion, South Dakota while working towards a Masters in kinesiology.
Athleticism, leadership, smarts and production are clearly key traits in what LaPolice looks for in quarterbacks and Streveler checked each box.
The ability to be a fast learner and absorb new information was evident by the 10-for-10, 140-yard, one touchdown performance in Winnipeg’s first pre-season game. So to was the athleticism as Streveler rushed for times for 37 yards, including a 20-yard chunk. However, there was a road bump against the B.C. Lions in the second exhibition outing and Streveler regressed, connecting on just 3-of-9 throws.
“It’s called playing against real competition,” one source said.
Streveler needs to put those quick-study academic qualities to use as he faces the Eskimos first-string defence. Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea said Streveler will be the No. 1 quarterback for the CFL lid-lifter in The Peg Thursday against Edmonton.
“A better QB is a phone call away. It sure seems like a major gamble,” another source added.
That’s a fair categorization of the Bombers decision, but young players, especially quarterbacks, need opportunities to develop at some point. Streveler will be the first quarterback since Anthony Calvillo with the Las Vegas Posse in 1994 to be the Week 1 starting quarterback of a CFL team straight out of university (ace stats man Steve Daniel deserves credit). Calvillo went 12-of-28 for 170 yards with three touchdown passes and more importantly no interceptions as the Posse beat the Sacramento Gold Miners 36-32.
That role of the dice worked out well for Calvillo in the end. The Bombers would take anything close to it from Streveler as he begins his CFL career.