Matthew Boateng has been sent home from the CFL combine after electing not to participate in some of Sunday’s events.
Boateng wasn’t the first prospect sent home on Saturday.
Offensive lineman Shane Richards was sent home from the CFL combine after choosing not to participate in testing and drills.
Accepting an invitation to the national combine means agreeing to participate in the entire event — measurements, interviews, testing, drills, and media.
Players aren’t allowed to attend if they don’t plan on fully participating. This is why a number of top prospects who originally appeared on the combine roster — Laval’s Mathieu Betts, Arkansas State’s Justin McInnis, UConn’s Hergy Mayala — ultimately decided not to attend.
Players all have their own reasons for not participating in the combine. Successful pro days, the risk of injury, and focus on the NFL all factor into the equation.
Allow me to make this clear: I don’t blame Boateng and Richards for refusing to test at the combine.
Boateng ran a 4.38 forty yard dash at his pro day last week in front of three CFL teams and almost all 32 NFL teams. The Fresno State product participated in the vertical jump testing on Saturday and was willing to participate in the one-on-one drills on Sunday.
Richards recently performed at the Oklahoma State pro day in front of all 32 NFL teams. His skills and athleticism were already on full display. Richards has no obligation to perform the same physical tests he did two weeks ago; any regression in performance could hurt his draft stock.
Interviewing with teams is an important part of the combine experience. Teams want the opportunity to meet players in person — getting the chance to ask them potentially bizarre questions in a one-on-one setting can influence the way they perceive players.
Interviews are conducted at the combine over two evenings, the first of which takes place the day before testing begins. This is why Richards chose to attend the combine despite never intending to test — he could get five of his interviews done before pulling out of the on-field action.
Out of fairness to the four remaining teams, the league allowed Richards to finish his interviews on Saturday prior to his departure from the combine.
The problem with Richards’ short stint at this year’s combine is two-fold.
Firstly, Richards’ spot could have gone toward another player who could have raised his draft stock by participating in drills and testing. A lot of players — particularly those at small USports and NCAA programs — could use more exposure in front of CFL coaches and personnel men.
Secondly, it was predictable. Richards’ agent, Johnathon Hardaway, has held a number of clients out of the CFL combine before. Seeing Richards refuse to participate in drills wasn’t a shock to anyone.
According to sources, Hardaway offered to cover the cost of flights for Josiah St. John after he refused to participate in testing and drills at the combine in 2016. The league’s invoice went (and remains) unpaid.
The league chose not to comment on Richards’ departure on Saturday.
As for Boateng, penalizing a player for opting out of some testing events seems unfair. The player ran an electronically-timed forty-yard dash a week ago — why force him to run it again in Toronto?
It’s time that the CFL allows players to come to the combine without the obligation of participating in drills and testing.
The CFL doesn’t want to cover the travel expenses of players who elect not to test, but the league may not have a choice moving forward.
There are a number of top CFL agents who are tired of having their clients unable to attend the draft while others attend without participating in all of the testing and drills.
Sending players home in the middle of the combine is also a bad look for the league. The CFL needs to be promoting players — not sending them home.