Six risers from the 2024 CFL Combine in Winnipeg

Photo courtesy: Andrew Mahon/CFL.ca

The CFL Combine has come and gone, which means it’s time to take stock of how the event changed the perception of prospects available in this year’s draft.

The annual talent showcase rarely causes teams to drastically alter their draft boards, though there is room for players to move up and down depending on their testing numbers, interviews, and performance in practice.

Below are six players who rose following their performance in Winnipeg. They are listed alphabetically by last name. Click here for our list of fallers.

RB Michael Chris-Ike, Delaware State

The six-foot-one, 225-pound ball-carrier was expected to test well this past week in Winnipeg but outperformed all reasonable projections to dominate the competition.

Chris-Ike won the three-cone drill (6.71 seconds), short shuttle (4.19 seconds), and tied for the lead in the forty-yard dash (4.51 seconds) despite being one of the heaviest skill position players in attendance. He also finished tied for ninth in the vertical jump (35.5 inches) and eleventh in the broad jump (122.25 inches).

The native of Hamilton, Ont. doesn’t have a lot of rushing production but has strong special teams film and blocks well. In a relatively weak fullback class, Chris-Ike should be seen as a top utility player who can help close out games as a punishing runner.

REC Kevens Clercius, Connecticut

The Montreal native plays arguably the deepest position in this year’s draft yet found a way to separate himself from the pack.

Clercius interviewed well, per sources, and has overcome adversity consistently throughout his life. A son of Haitian immigrants, Clercius lost his mother, Iclea, unexpectedly when he was only 14. He also spoke little to no English when he reported to the Huskies and learned the language quickly in order to help him communicate with teammates and understand the team’s offensive scheme.

The six-foot-two, 217-pound target showed that he can run good routes and has strong hands despite limited production at the collegiate level, proving he’s a legitimate receiver prospect in addition to bringing value as a blocker and special teams player.

LB Joel Dublanko, Cincinnati

The late draft addition was already a top-ranked prospect following a standout collegiate career and two years of professional experience but raised his stock following an excellent performance on and off the field at the CFL Combine.

The 26-year-old showed he can defend sideline-to-sideline on the CFL’s wide field with a 4.59-second forty-yard dash, a substantial improvement from the 4.76 he ran at his pro day in 2022. He also showed remarkable quickness for his six-foot-three, 231-pound frame, finishing fourth in the three-cone drill with a time of 6.84 seconds.

Dublanko fully participated in testing and the first day of drills and never gave any indication that the event was below him. His leadership was also on full display when he was unable to participate near the end of the event as he led the cheering section from the sidelines during the 12-on-12 period.

OL Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay, Laval

The two-time U Sports All-Canadian started exclusively at left tackle for the Rouge et Or, a position he’s unlikely to play at the professional level. He took reps at centre and guard during the one-on-ones at the CFL Combine and excelled, proving he hasn’t forgotten how to play either position since his days at Cégep de Rimouski.

CFL teams value versatility along the offensive line and Dumoulin-Duguay has proven he can play all three positions up front. He also bucked the stereotype of Laval offensive linemen being too old and too heavy as he’s 24 and measured in at six-foot-two and 293 pounds.

Dumoulin-Duguay was the best tester among offensive linemen at the event, recording a better forty-yard dash than one fullback and a higher vertical jump than three linebackers and two running backs. He looks like he’s ready to be a sixth offensive lineman at the CFL level and it shouldn’t be long before he’s in a starting role.

REC Kevin Mital, Laval

The native of Saint-Hubert, Que. is one of the most productive receivers in U Sports history but faced questions regarding how well he’d run at 229 pounds and the suspension he received last season after pleading guilty to assault.

Not only did Mital shine in his interviews, per multiple sources, but he also excelled in the testing, running a 4.58-second forty-yard dash, a 6.94-second three-cone, and doing 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. It’s clear that he has the athleticism to match his production with the Rouge et Or, which could push him into the first round.

Mital’s film from Laval was always worthy of a first-round grade. Now that he’s proven he’s taking care of business off the field and in the gym, expect him to be a first-round pick in next month’s CFL draft.

OL George Una, Windsor

The Toronto native isn’t currently listed on the top 20 scouting bureau rankings but expect that to change when the final edition is published next month.

The six-foot-two, 313-pound blocker was arguably the top offensive lineman in the one-on-ones, taking reps at centre and guard. He was the second-best tester at his position behind only Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay and had the second-longest arms at his position behind only John Bosse.

Una showed what he needed to in pass protection, as a run blocker, and interviewed well with teams. He entered this year’s CFL Combine as a potential first-round pick and now seems like a lock to be one of the first names off the board come draft day.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.