Predicting the top performer in every test at the 2024 CFL Combine

Photo courtesy: CFL

The 2024 CFL Combine is officially underway in Winnipeg and prospects from all corners of the country — and around the globe — have made their way to the Manitoba capital.

Medical testing and team interviews will always be the most important portion of this job interview but for the fans tuning in, the physical testing will always reign supreme as it serves as a chance to see future stars of tomorrow perform superhuman feats in their skivvies, offering a source of endless speculation and debate. And while every scout in the league will claim the tape is what matters, sometimes even they get mesmerized by the athleticism on display.

With testing set for Thursday, March 21, players will get six opportunities to show that they can be the best in the class — the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle, three-cone, and forty-yard dash. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the player who will win each event.

Photo courtesy: Ian MacAlpine/Queen’s Athletics

Bench press — OL Ryan Berta, Queen’s University

It’s no secret that this drill skews towards the bigger-bodied individuals in attendance and Berta should take the cake here. The second-team All-Canadian centre from Hamilton, Ont. put up 30 reps back at the 2022 East-West Bowl and has had two years to improve his personal best. It isn’t hard to imagine him moving into the top 15 all-time in CFL Combine history when he gets underneath the bar.

In the hunt: OL Jaxon Morkin, Windsor; TE Brad Hladik, UBC; DL Justin Sambu, Baylor

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/John Amis

Vertical Jump — REC Jahquan Bloomfield, Prairie View A&M University

Most fans are unlikely to be familiar with Bloomfield, who attended the University of Louisiana-Monroe before dropping down to the FCS with Prairie View A&M. The Ottawa-born receiver has posted pedestrian numbers at both spots but could be poised to explode upwards at the CFL Combine — literally. A recently circulated video showed Bloomfield jumping 41.5 inches at a Panthers workout, a number that should top the field in Winnipeg if replicated.

In the hunt: DL Luke Brubacher, Wilfrid Laurier; REC D’Sean Mimbs, Regina; DB Daniel Bell, Mount Allison

Photo courtesy: Piper Sports Photography/Regina Rams

Broad Jump — REC D’Sean Mimbs, University of Regina

Explosive is an understatement when it comes to the son of three-time CFL all-star Robert Mimbs and he has the potential to emerge as the winner for a number of these events. For the sake of spreading the love around, we’ll give him the edge in just the broad. The Regina native blew away much of the competition with a 10-foot, nine-inch jump at the 2023 East-West Bowl, a number that would have put him on the podium last year in Edmonton.

In the hunt: REC Jahquan Bloomfield, Prairie View A&M; DL Luke Brubacher, Wilfrid Laurier; REC AK Gassama, Manitoba

Photo courtesy: Reva Ludwig/Hillsdale College Athletics

Short Shuttle — RB Michael Herzog, Hillsdale College

Both of the change-of-direction drills can be considered a complete shot in the dark after not being tested at the East-West Bowl last year, but this pick required a very small logical leap. In 2023, running back Thomas Bertrand-Hudon posted the best time in the event. In 2022, it was recorded by a member of the Herzog family as part of a three-way tie. Therefore, a running back named Herzog, whose athleticism has exceeded his older brother’s, must be in contention for the top spot this year.

In the hunt:  DB Tyshon Blackburn, Alberta; DB Daniel Bell, Mount Allison; RB Jared Chisari, Queen’s

Photo courtesy: U Sports

Three-Cone — REC A.K. Gassama, University of Manitoba

Despite achieving back-to-back All-Canadian status, the five-foot-nine, 155-pound Gassama is not a lock to get drafted due to his slight frame. However, he’s virtually guaranteed to impress in testing across multiple events and the three-cone could be his masterpiece. The drill is often easier for those lacking additional bulk and few players have more short area burst than the Winnipeg product.

In the hunt: DB Ben Labrosse, McGill; DB Jerrell Cummings, UBC; REC D’Sean Mimbs, Regina

Photo courtesy: Joe Pimentel/McGill Athletics

Forty-Yard Dash — DB Ben Labrosse, McGill University

Come Sunday evening, I expect that a lot of people will be discussing Labrosse as one of the “risers” of the CFL Combine. Let’s get one thing clear before the event even begins: if you didn’t know the Greenfield Park native was good already, that’s on you. A stalwart special teamer and true freshman contributor at Syracuse, he transferred to McGill in 2022 and became an All-Canadian corner while shutting down Hec Crighton winner Kevin Mital. Unfortunately, Labrosse was unable to play last year and has fallen off the media radar, but count me among those who believe the whispers that he’ll run in the 4.4s.

In the hunt: REC D’Sean Mimbs, Regina; DB Tyshon Blackburn, Alberta; RB Matthew Peterson, Alberta

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.