10 players who stole the spotlight at the 2023 CFL Combine

Courtesy: Southern Utah University Athletics

The 2023 CFL Combine has finished with more than 80 players from across Canada and around the world stating their case to be selected on May 2.

For many of the event’s top prospects, the week in Edmonton was about checking boxes. Siriman Harrison Bagayogo looked every bit the part as the top corner in the draft. Receivers Clark Barnes and Jeremy Murphy cemented their status as the top two U Sports options at their position. Defensive backs Jake Taylor and Jake Kelly tested like freaks as expected.

For other players, the way in which they exceeded expectations or answered questions about their game should cause their stock to rise. With three full days of padded practices added to the event this year, the Combine’s level of importance has never been higher.

Here are 10 Canadian prospects who stood out at the 2023 CFL Combine, presented in alphabetical order.

Francis Bemiy, DL, Southern Utah University (Montreal, Que.)

The Montreal-born defensive end was already considered a first-round talent entering the week but there is no doubt about his status now. Bemiy possesses drool-worthy length at six-foot-three and 257 pounds, flashing violent hands and excellent technique during a dominant session on Day 1 of padded practice. In what is considered a crowded defensive line class, he separated himself from the pack.

Dayton Black, OL, University of Saskatchewan (Brandon, Man.)

With a weak class along the offensive line, the door was wide open for a prospect to seize the top spot in the position rankings. While there still remains no definitive answer, Black came the closest and stonewalled opponents in the one-on-ones with his nimble feet, great anchor and noticeable edge. His reps at guard were far less polished than the ones at tackle but after making the transition from quarterback to offensive lineman in the Canada West conference, kicking inside should be relatively easy.

Courtesy: University of Montreal Athletics

Michael Brodrique, LB, Université de Montreal (Sainte-Marthe-Sur-Le-Lac, Que.)

At nearly six-foot-two and 222 pounds, Brodrique towered above much of this year’s linebacking group and still put many of their testing numbers to shame. Though he is still developing in coverage, his 4.59-second forty-yard dash showed up in his recovery speed and his explosive burst stood out. With a frame and skillset that screams “early impact on special teams,” he has placed himself firmly in the first-round conversation.

Lucas Cormier, DB, Mount Allison University (Sackville, NB)

While corners often stand out thanks to the nature of one-on-one sessions, it is bigger safeties that carry more value for CFL teams. The six-foot-one, 205-pound Cormier emerged as the top player in that category, showing the football intelligence and quick twitch to win from multiple spots while posting solid testing numbers across the board. Even more impressive, he did it all in borrowed equipment after his gear was lost in transit — showing an ability to perform in the face of adversity that teams will appreciate.

Aidan John, DL, Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, NS)

After getting called up from the Invitational Combine, John continued to flash developmental traits against top competition. He still plays high and his technique is unrefined, but the six-foot-three, 248-pound defensive end tested with better burst and bend than any player his size and backed it up with some impressive one-on-one wins. With the added ability to contribute on special teams, expect someone to pound the table for him on draft day.

Lake Korte-Moore, DL, University of British Columbia (Ottawa, Ont.)

The great debate rages on about whether the Notorious L.K.M. will be a better fit at defensive end or defensive tackle in the CFL, but his dominance at the Combine was a consensus opinion. Bull-strong at nearly six-foot-four and 264 pounds, he lost his first rep of the week badly and proceeded to win virtually every single one after. Violent and powerful, he showed that his pass rush arsenal is continuing to grow even as he bulks up and had highlight reel rushes from every single alignment.

Jacob Mason, FB, McMaster University (Burlington, Ont.)

The fullback group had a strong showing across the board, but no one in Edmonton competed with quite as much physicality and toughness as Mason. The six-foot, 222-pound blocker put up mediocre testing numbers but punched a murderer’s row of defensive ends in the mouth and notched more pancakes than most of the offensive linemen in attendance. His technique might have drawn a few holding flags in a game scenario but you can’t teach his level of “want to.”

Photo courtesy: Christian Bender/CFL.ca

Caleb Morin, REC, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Sask.)

Both Huskie receivers had strong weeks but it was the Invitational Combine call-up Morin that quietly left me the most impressed. The six-foot-two, 188-pound target looked effortlessly smooth in his routes and has an exceptional understanding of space and leverage. Despite running a middling 4.78-second forty-yard dash, he routinely separated from defenders and should stand out on tape.

Daniel Oladejo, REC, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ont.)

Running a 4.81-second forty-yard dash can be a death sentence for a receiver but Oladejo leaves the Combine as one of the biggest risers. At five-foot-10 and 192 pounds, he’s thick, physical, and has great burst out of his cuts. He made a few memorable catches on offence and proved himself strong enough to contribute on special teams, pounding out a whopping 20 reps on the bench.

Charlie Ringland, DB, University of Saskatchewan (Winnipeg, Man.)

Jumping 40 inches in the vertical is an impressive feat even at the NFL Combine and Ringland opened the week by making it look easy at nearly six-foot-one and 200 pounds. He oozes athletic potential and plays a more physical game than other long corners in this class, with the ability to play halfback or safety. Unfortunately, his week ended on the second day of practice with a non-contact knee injury. He is expected to miss significant time pending the results of an MRI but should still be drafted in the mid-rounds based on everything he showed.

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.