A Football Carnaval: Names to know for the CFL Combine in Brazil

As the CFL global combine circuit inches closer to the national event in Toronto, Greg Quick and his crew have touched down in South America to take in the best that Brazil has to offer. It will be a football festival, a Brazilian Carnaval, and I can’t wait to see Randy Ambrosie in all that colourful plumage.

As I’ve done with all previous global combines, I take a look at each of the players invited and highlight my favourites here to keep fans informed about the CFL’s international experiment.

Just a note, the Brazilian players have their names listed differently in various locations. I’m identifying them here by the name under which I found their tape and how they are listed on social media. The CFL combine results sheet will have different listings.

Victor Hugo Mega, REC, Brazil, Galo F.A. Belo Horizonte

For some, the dream never dies and at 31, Hugo Mega is still battling for a professional shot. The six-foot-four, 220-pound receiver had an XFL tryout last summer, but now the CFL combine may be his final kick at the can.

While he may be past his prime, Hugo Mega still has the athletic traits that have made him dominant in Brazil. His imposing frame allows him to box out opponents and reel in any contested ball thrown his way. Despite that, he is surprisingly sudden out of his breaks which allows him to separate. He is a long strider whose ability to take the top off a defence has usually been limited by the caliber of his quarterbacks.

While there has been hesitancy to invite older athletes to the national combine for obvious reasons, a few have gotten through the process. Victor Hugo Mega could be another who breaks the mold.

Iury Machado, OL, Brazil, Vasco Almirantes

Looking every bit the part of a professional offensive lineman at six-foot-five and 310 pounds, Machado is one of the crispest Brazilian products. He’s got great body positioning and excellent hand placement, making him one of the country’s finest blockers.

Machado is a maniacal driver who never stops his feet. When he snaps his hips through, opponents are dead on impact. Where he struggles is in pass protection, where his feet might be a touch slow and he relies too much on grabbing and torquing defenders to the ground. If that can be cleaned up, Machado is a player with great tools.

Tiago Lourencini, OL, Brazil, Timbó Rex

When you are searching for developmental offensive line prospects, you usually look for length. You won’t find that with the six-foot, 290-pound Lourencini, but you will find enticing athleticism.

Lourencini has a good punch and a driver mentality, but he truly excels out in space. You will often find the Brazilian hot on his running back’s tail 40 yards down the field. While he needs to learn to play with better body control and leverage, the 24-year-old’s smooth movement skills are a toy any line coach would love to play with.

Marcos Alves, LB, Brazil, Cuiabá Arsenal

Alves is a bizarre type of prospect. At six-feet and 216 pounds, he’s built like a defensive back, plays as a middle linebacker, but has the first-step quickness of a defensive end. Let’s just call him tailor-made for special teams.

Alves is young, raw and plays out of control. He needs a lot of coaching to understand how to play within a defence. That said, the kid is a hunter and his twitchy explosiveness could be a real asset.

Ryan David, DB, Brazil, Galo F.A. Belo Horizonte

At just 21 years old, David would be one of the youngest combine invitees, but he’s become a highly productive player in Brazil.

A linebacker who should really play safety, the kid flies around the field and has the ability to cover one-on-one. While his speed and agility are intriguing, I expect him to measure in under his listed five-foot-eleven and 200 pounds. That makes any potential special teams role difficult.

Luis Polastri, LB/DE, Brazil, Timbó Rex

Polastri has the unique distinction of having won a Turkish National Championship in 2018 and a Brazilian one in 2019, following his dreams around the globe. He’s a physical presence at linebacker with an ideal six-foot-three, 230-pound frame but he doesn’t have ideal quickness at the linebacker position.

I wonder if he would excel with his hand in the ground and use his long arms as a CFL defensive end. Either way, he has special teams value.

João Pedro Conrado, REC, Brazil, Galo F.A. Belo Horizonte

Conrado isn’t the biggest receiver at five-foot-eleven and 185 pounds but he is a full-field effort guy. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and seems to relish making impactful blocks.

While he hasn’t yet proven himself to be an effective route runner, Conrado excels in space. He may have more speed than the tape shows as well, and I’m intrigued to see how he tests. Regardless, he has a great set of hands and is young enough to develop.

Andrey Pereira, DE, Brazil, Timbó Rex

Pereira doesn’t excel in any one area, but he looks the part at six-foot-three and 250 pounds. He is a high effort player who continues to pursue the passer even if he’s been run all the way around the pocket. That makes him a potential special teams convert.

Pereira is also likely to impress those in attendance with his football acumen, having served as the head coach of the Timbó youth program. Effort and intelligence are two attributes always in high demand.

Klaus Pais, REC, Brazil, Botafogo Challengers

Pais is a long strider who shows off his athleticism at a lower level of competition. He isn’t an exceptional route-runner, but he can burn you deep or turn a short crosser into a long gain. If he tests well, the six-foot-one, 200-pound weapon could raise a few eyebrows.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.