Eight takeaways from day one of the CFL combine

The CFL combine got underway on Saturday, an event that I’ve been looking forward to for months. Below are eight takeaways to bring you up to speed on everything that went down during the festivities on day one.

Question everything

The Ottawa Redblacks made headlines last year when they asked prospects which doughnut they most strongly related to during player interviews. General manager Marcel Desjardins felt the question added humour and insight to the process (which, as many teams feel, can grow monotonous over time).

The questions at this year’s combine seemed to be more conventional. One player was asked when he most recently smoked marijuana — a questions he claims to have answered honestly — but that’s hardly controversial with cannabis now legal in Canada.

Pivotal talks

Dave Dickenson spent a fair amount of time chatting with Western quarterback Christopher Merchant during Saturday’s testing events.

Calgary spent two years developing national quarterback Andrew Buckley prior to his sudden retirement this past May. The Stampeders also drafted then-quarterback Brad Sinopoli in 2011 before moving him to receiver two years later.

Merchant, a Calgary native, is an athletic pivot who is open to playing receiver at the professional level. Calgary could be a good fit for him.

Oh Danny boy

Montreal Carabins head coach Danny Maciocia was a spectator at field level during Saturday’s combine events. USports coaches aren’t typically permitted to watch combine events from the field.


Getting defensive

I asked a number of offensive line prospects who their stiffest competition would be in Sunday’s one-on-one drills. The response was unanimous: UBC defensive tackle Connor Griffiths.

Griffiths improved his bench press total from 21 at last year’s East-West Bowl to 28 on Saturday. His vertical leap also improved from 23.5 inches to 26 inches.

A solid showing in the one-on-one drills should solidify Griffiths as a first-round pick in May’s draft. He’s physical, disruptive, and nasty.

Just for laughs

German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt drew giggles from the crowd on Saturday when he failed to record a single rep on the bench press.

Though the crowd didn’t laugh when it happened for a second time, Ottawa defensive back Jamie Harry also got pinned later in the afternoon.

Going global

The best “global” prospect thus far is clearly German linebacker Thiadric Hansen. Hansen, 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds, put up 20 reps on the bench press and jumped an impressive 38 inches in the vertical leap.

He may already be 26, but Hansen would probably be solid on a CFL special teams unit. His vertical would have ranked fourth out of the 30 linebackers who attended this year’s NFL combine.

If the league mandates that teams start carrying global players as part of the ratio rules, Hansen will be the player at the top of a lot of teams wish lists.

Playin’ games

The phrase “he’s a gamer” is typically used in football circles to describe a player who is mediocre in practice but excels on game day. In the case of UNLV offensive lineman Kyle Saxelid, it means something entirely different.

Saxelid is a huge fan of video games — old or new — on both console and desktop computer. Though he has a Legend of Zelda tattoo on his right wrist (pictured above), he calls the Mass Effect games his favorite of all-time.

Overall opinion

Speaking with a number of people before, during, and after Saturday’s testing events, the consensus seems to be that the 2019 draft class is the CFL’s strongest since 2016.

This year’s class doesn’t have many elite prospects, but teams generally believe that there will be good players available well into the later rounds of the draft. It’s a deep class, particularly at receiver, cornerback, and defensive tackle.

Check back to 3DownNation for more thoughts from the draft’s final day on Sunday.

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