CFL planning to go ahead with 2021 national, regional combines

Photo courtesy: John Hodge

Do you like watching the CFL combines as much as I do? If so, you’re in luck.

According to league sources, the CFL will hold its regional and national combines in March pending the approval of health officials. The combines allow players to showcase their athleticism in testing events, participate in one-on-one drills, and conduct interviews with teams.

The 2020 Ontario Regional Combine went ahead on March 12, but the remaining events — the Eastern Regional Combine (March 13), Western Regional Combine (March 20), and National Combine (March 26-28) — were cancelled due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy: John Hodge

The National Combine and Ontario Regional Combine are held annually in Toronto, while the Western Regional Combine and Eastern Regional Combine are held in Edmonton and Montreal, respectively. This means the league will have to coordinate with health officials in three different provinces for all four events to take place.

Questions surrounding the viability the league’s combines started to arise following the announcement of several changes taking place to next year’s CFL draft. These changes include a random draw to determine the order of the selections, a “snake-style” for neighboring rounds, and the option for players to defer their draft year to 2022.

CFL using random draw to determine 2021 draft order among other changes

These changes have been well received by the scouts and personnel experts with whom I’ve spoken since they were announced last week.

CFL scouts, personnel experts react to changes, random draw for 2021 draft

It’s important that players get the opportunity to perform in front of CFL scouts, which wasn’t possible earlier this year. Many prospects resorted to creating “virtual” pro days, recording themselves performing combine drills in public parks or at local gyms.

There’s no telling what the status of the COVID-19 pandemic will be come March 2021. Even so, it’s encouraging to know that the CFL is planning to proceed with all four of its combines following a one-year hiatus.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.