Insider Talk: four downs, play-action passes, CFL combine goodies

Insider Talk is a weekly feature on 3DownNation that includes anonymous quotes from people around the CFL — players, coaches, personnel people, executives, agents, etc. — regarding the latest news around the league. It’s a combination of insight, analysis, rumours, and friendly gossip.

This week’s Insider Talk is full of discussion regarding four downs, the CFL combine, moving the hash marks, the performance of players in this year’s draft class, the CFL’s use of play-action passes, the combine interview process, and recent signings along the offensive line.

Enjoy this week’s quotes and come back next week for another edition of Insider Talk.

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There’s a lot of chatter about four downs from fans and the media but I can tell you it wasn’t discussed extensively behind closed doors. I’m not sure it got any serious consideration, honestly.

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This draft is not deep. There are still some really good players available, but you can see how much having a full year off hurt U Sports programs. I’m optimistic that things will bounce back over the next couple of years but there’s no denying the aftereffects of that canceled season (from 2020).

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The reason you’ve seen so many free agent offensive linemen get signed recently (Josh Mosley in Calgary, Tyler Clucas-Warren in Edmonton, Ben Koczwara in Winnipeg, Maurice Simba in Saskatchewan) is because this offensive line class (in the 2022 CFL Draft) isn’t great.

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The biggest question in the draft is what Montreal is doing at fourth overall. They just drafted three offensive linemen last year, so they’ve got depth there. Normally I’d tend to think they draft the top French-Canadian but I don’t think there are any in this draft who you could realistically take at fourth overall.

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Moving the hash marks will result in more big plays, I’m sure of it. Passing to the field-side is tough because the throws are so long and that allows the corner out there to cheat inside and protect the seam. The corner won’t be able to cheat if the hash marks move in and that’ll leave the seam more vulnerable for big plays.

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The Philpots (twins Jalen and Tyson from the University of Calgary) didn’t run great (in the forty-yard dash) but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched their film. They get open because of their route-running and always have. They’ve never been burners.

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In the NFL, most big plays happen off of play-action. Having four downs would make for more runs, sure, but that would also pull the linebackers towards the line of scrimmage and opens things up down-field. Play-action doesn’t work as well in our league because defences know teams aren’t as reliant on the run game. That’s part of the reason we’re seeing fewer big plays.

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The kids (at this year’s combine) interviewed really well. It’s pretty wild how much that’s changed over the last ten or even just the last five years. There are very few guys who come into the room anymore and when they leave you go, ‘OK, there’s no way we’re drafting that kid.’

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You’re a lot bigger in person than I thought you’d be. I thought you were small like (Justin) Dunk.