10 players who underwhelmed at the 2023 CFL Combine

Photo courtesy: Brandon VandeCaveye/Western Mustangs

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. Others exceeded expectations and used the platform to elevate their stock. But not everyone can thrive in a Combine environment.

While the narrative of risers versus fallers is often flawed, a number of players failed to achieve what they set out to accomplish in front of CFL scouts. With three full days of padded practices added to the event this year, teams may place more value on that assessment thanks to the larger sample size.

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

Emmanuel Aboagye-Gyan, LB, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ont.)

The Gee-Gees entire linebacking corps was in town for the Combine but the group had a very quiet week as a whole. Aboagye-Gyan was by far the most forgettable, checking in at an undersized five-foot-11 and 207 pounds yet still testing near the bottom of his position group in virtually every category. His 7.69-second three-cone was the worst of any non-lineman and that stiffness showed up in drills as a failure to move in space.

Gabriel Appiah-Kubi, REC, York University (Brampton, Ont.)

Appiah-Kubi may have garnered headlines by capturing the forty-yard dash crown with a time of 4.44 seconds, but the darling of testing day had a rough time once the pads came on. The five-foot-nine, 156-pound receiver was a delight to watch run routes on air but found himself re-routed by a light breeze and struggled to compete in the one-on-ones. His small size was part of the reason for his lack of collegiate production and it might keep him out of the CFL entirely.

Photo courtesy: University of Regina Athletics

Anthony Bennett, DL, University of Regina (Weston, Fla.)

Bennett’s high level of collegiate production likely keeps his stock steady following the Combine but some of his flaws got exposed. At just under six-foot-one and 229 pounds, he lacks both length and size while posting mostly average athletic numbers. He has an infectious personality and the bend to be successful but looked one-dimensional in pass rush one-on-ones. Given that he is already 26 years old, teams will question how much developmental upside remains with the American-born product.

Kwadwo Boahen, DL, University of Alberta (Calgary, Alta.)

All things considered, Boahen had a perfectly fine week in Edmonton but his place on this list comes as a product of unmet expectations. Given that he’s often played on the edge at six-foot and 278 pounds, many had the Golden Bear pegged as a potential riser ahead of the event. Instead, his athletic numbers were on par with the rest of the defensive tackles and he looked average during the competitive sessions, leaving some feeling disappointed.

Keon Edwards, RB, Western University (Toronto, Ont.)

Scouts already knew that the OUA MVP had a problematic athletic profile thanks to last year’s East-West Bowl and will be careful not to double count the results, but he actually tested worse than last year in some areas. Edward’s 23-inch vertical at five-foot-nine and 230 pounds points to a problematic lack of explosiveness and he struggled to track the ball in space when coming out of the backfield. He showed solid vision in the final 12-on-12 session but some of the other measurables will take him off of team boards entirely.

Willy-Pierre Dimbongi, REC, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ont.)

While his receiving teammate Daniel Oladejo distinguished himself all week, Dimbongi struggled to overcome his lack of athletic measurables. He looks the part at six-foot-one and 188 pounds but ran 4.85 in the forty and only jumped 27.5 inches in the vertical, posting bottom-of-the-barrel numbers on every test. He struggled to separate from defenders during the one-on-ones and looked stiff and slow out of breaks, raising serious questions about his ability to play at the next level.

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Phil Grohovac, OL, Western University (Victoria, B.C.)

There is still a very good chance that Grohovac is the first offensive lineman off the board on draft day but he failed to seize the opportunity to cement his status as the top prospect at his position. After emerging as a winner on testing day, he struggled throughout the week in one-on-ones and didn’t seem to have the lateral quickness to contend with defenders that were allowed to pin their ears back. Teams understand that the nature of the event was never going to lend itself to his road grading skillset, but the All-Canadian will likely be disappointed in his own performance nonetheless.

Olivier Roy, QB, Concordia University (Donnacona, Que.)

After a banner year for Canadian quarterbacks in 2022, it was clear long before the Combine that there wasn’t another Tre Ford in this class. The six-foot, 160-pound Roy simply confirmed that fact in Edmonton, frequently delivering passes off-target and late. Laval’s Arnaud Desjardins was the best QB in attendance and he isn’t draft-eligible until 2025.

Quintin Seguin, DL, Charleston Southern University (Windsor, Ont.)

There is an expectation that NCAA prospects should stand out at the CFL Combine but Seguin looked like just another guy. The six-foot-two, 271-pound defender has experience rushing from both inside and outside alignment, yet failed to disrupt from either spot against a weak offensive line group. He lacks the same explosive twitch as some of the week’s big winners, Francis Bemiy and Lake Korte-Moore, and failed to elevate above the muck in a deep defensive line group.

Anthony Vandal, OL, Université de Sherbrooke (Sorel-Tracy, Que.)

Vandal is one of the nicest guys in this draft but one-on-ones just aren’t his forte. The three-time RSEQ all-star is stiff and struggles to drop anchor, often fighting for his life after losing leverage. The six-foot-four, 297-pound tackle will be a project as he makes the move inside to guard and still needs to get meaner to succeed at the next level.

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.