The NFL Scouting Combine invite list was revealed on Wednesday with 323 draft prospects making the cut. Five of those names are familiar or will become so to Canadian football fans.
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
The 2019 Heisman Trophy candidate remains one of the draft’s most intriguing options at running back. The native of Sherwood Park, Alta. had a down year in 2020, but could see his stock rise if he showcases his elite speed in the forty-yard dash.
REC Josh Palmer, Tennessee
The Brampton native caught a touchdown in the 2021 Senior Bowl following a four-year career with the Volunteers. He’s rising through the process already and being talked about by draft experts as a potential mid-round NFL Draft selection.
OL Alaric Jackson, Iowa
Born in Windsor, Ont., the six-foot-six, 318-pound blocker has developed into one of the best left tackles in the Big Ten. It’s possible he’ll be moved to guard at the NFL level, but Jackson remains a strong blocker with plenty of remaining upside.
LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, Oklahoma State
Raised in Calgary, Ogbongbemiga played a leadership role on a stout Cowboys’ defence and was twice named All-Big 12 Football Second Team. He’ll have to prove he can run well, but the six-foot-one, 232-pound linebacker is a tackling machine.
DB Jevon Holland, Oregon
Born in Coquitlam, B.C. during his father’s tenure with the B.C. Lions, Holland is a hard-hitting safety who sat out the 2020 season to prepare for the draft. He is expected to be the first Canadian off the board in the NFL’s annual pickfest.
DB Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota
There aren’t many cornerbacks who measure in at six-foot-three, which helps St-Juste’s draft stock immensely. The Montreal native recorded 62 tackles and 13 knockdowns in 30 career games while facing elite competition at Michigan and Minnesota.
The NFL Scouting Combine will look different in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These alterations were outlined in a memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Among the alterations will be no in-person workouts at the combine as they will take place at colleges’ pro days, all interviews and psychological testing will be virtual and there will be limited in-person medical exams.
The largest change to the traditionally week-long showcase of college prospects in February is that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person workouts at the combine in 2021.
“Instead, any workouts will take place on the individual pro days on college campuses,” the memo reads.
The league added it would work with individual schools to achieve consistency in the drills and testing that takes place with each NFL team gaining access of video for the workouts. Schools also will be asked to conduct virtual media availabilities with combine invitees to help “promote” the prospects and the 2021 NFL Draft.
In addition, the NFL is currently working alongside club physicians and trainers to develop a way in which to obtain “comprehensive medical information on each of the invited prospects.” In-person testing will be available for “a certain number of prospects” at designated locations, likely in early April.
All teams’ interviews and psychological testing is going to be done virtually under the coordination of Jeff Foster and his staff.