With the national combine officially in the books, the top prospects have now done all they can do to sell themselves to CFL clubs around the league. It was a great weekend for some, with their draft stocks soaring after testing, interviewing and competing well in one-on-ones. But for others, the flight home could be a long one knowing they could’ve done better.
So who earned themselves a blue-chip stock in Toronto, and who’s stock took a hit? Let’s check the stock market itself: CFL Combine 2016 version.
NT Rupert Butcher, Western
Butcher had a dominant 1-on-1 session, scoring a +18 in my grading system. The 6-foot-4, 327-pounder displayed fantastic hands – he had three clean swim moves that earned +3 grades – as well as good explosion out of his stance and power, earning two +3 grades and a +2 grade for three dominant bull-rushes. Butcher was unstoppable the entire session, improving his draft stock drastically. Butcher could become an even better player if he loses some weight and gains some shiftiness.
DB Taylor Loffler, UBC
Loffler established himself as a late-first, early second-round pick with an all-around solid weekend. He weighed in at 220-pounds, leading teams to believe he could also play weak-side linebacker along with safety. He tested very well in the ever-important 3-cone and shuttle drills for defensive backs with 6.91 and 4.19 times, respectively. More importantly, he was the best defensive back in 1-on-1 ones, recording one interception and one pass break-up.
SB Felix Faubert-Lussier, Laval
Faubert-Lussier is one of the best utility guys we’ve seen come through the draft in recent years. He has the size and build to play fullback at six-foot, 220-pounds, and the speed and agility to play slotback. The Laval star was a testing monster, running a 4.58 40-yard dash; a 34.5 inch vertical; a combine-leading 6.73 3-cone time; and 4.19 shuttle time. He ran really good routes in one-on-ones, catching the ball well and getting in and out of his breaks fast while demonstrating a good use of leverage. Faubert-Lussier is looking like a top prospect in the 2016 draft class.
WR Brian Jones, Acadia
Top receiver prospects who have the size to be dominant players in all phases of special-teams as well as the skill to be a future starting receiver don’t come around very often, giving Jones and Faubert-Lussier the advantage over other pass-catchers in the draft class. Jones, who I wasn’t really high on as a slotback/wide receiver heading into the combine, had a great weekend, running a 4.69 40-yard dash as a 6-foot-4, 233-pound behemoth, and being virtually unstoppable in one-on-ones. The Acadia product posted spectacular testing numbers all across the board and has me sold on his chances of being an impactful Canadian player in the future.
C Michael Couture, SFU
Couture’s draft stock took a turn for the best the moment he stood on the weight scale on Friday. The main concern scouts had with Couture heading into the combine was his weight, as he often played at 275-pounds with the Clan, which is far too light for the CFL. But the Burnaby, B.C. native, who we already knew had the technique, depth of knowledge and talent to be a first-round pick heading into the combine, weighed in at a healthy 292-pounds and counting. Couture had a very strong showing in the one-on-ones, playing all five positions to great success. He’s versatile and finally has the relative size to warrant a high pick in the draft.
SB Doug Corby, Queens
Corby, my no. 1 ranked receiver prospect heading into the weekend, didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound speedster clocked the best 40-yard dash at the combine with his 4.50 time and was the sharpest route-runner on the field. His shuttle and 3-cone times in correlation with his straight-line speed were very good, while he managed to catch all but one ball thrown his way in one-on-ones. The Burlington, ON. native looked similar to Hamilton’s Luke Tasker with his creative route-running and soft, reliable hands.
Others: Laval’s trio of top-tier offensive lineman – RG/C Charles Vaillcourt, LG Philippe Gagnon and RT Jason Lauzon-Seguin showed scouts what they wanted to see and did nothing to damage their draft stock; putting up solid times in the 40-yard dash and all around solid testing numbers, Montreal’s Maiko Zepeda and Concordia’s Mikael Charland still both look like future special-teams demons; arguably the best LB heading into the combine, UBC’s Terrell Davis ran a 4.78 40-yard dash and was the best linebacker in one-on-ones.
WR Llevi Noel, Toronto
Noel proved he can run the entire route-tree in one-on-ones despite tweaking his hamstring earlier. He also tested very well, running a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, recording a combine-leading 36-inch vertical and also a combine-leading 129.5-inch broad jump. Noel evidently displayed his explosiveness and reportedly interviewed very well despite having to answer a lot of questions about school issues.
DB Brennan Van Nistlerooy, Okanagan Sun
Van Nistlerooy quietly had himself a solid combine, turning in a 4.63 40-yard dash while appearing close to the top of the leader-board on most other tests as well. He was perhaps the second or third best defensive back in one-on-ones, breaking a couple passes up and ultimately proving that the stage wasn’t too big for this Junior football player. Van Nistlerooy can go home knowing he’ll hear his name called at some point in the CFL draft.
NT Quinn Horton, SFU
Although he wasn’t necessarily a testing monster, Horton was very productive in one-on-ones, demonstrating good hands and quickness while winning three reps cleanly with rip and swim moves. While not necessarily penetrating into the back-field, he pushed the pocket on bull-rushes enough to be effective in a game situation. Horton stood upright off the snap on a couple snaps, however, and can sometimes rely on upper body power and his hands instead of using leverage and knee bend. Regardless, I think Horton, who’s looking like he could be a third-round pick, really helped himself this weekend.
RB Wayne Moore, McMaster
Moore did a great job in pass-protection and really lit it up in RB/LB one-on-ones. He took accurate first steps and showed lower body strength, stopping several linebackers directly in their tracks. He ran really clean routes, caught the ball well and looked far faster than the 4.92 40-yard dash time he recorded. Moore also showed up in great shape, coming in at 5-foot-11, 220-pounds, and has a really good build.
Others: DE Michael Kashak out of McMaster was solid in one-on-ones and tested very well, clocking a 4.88 40-yard dash; York RT Jamal Campbell proved he’s the best developmental offensive lineman available with crazy testing numbers and glimpses of potential in one-on-ones; WR Mike Jones out of Southern, who I questioned heading into the combine as a speedster who can only run go-routes, might’ve had the fastest cuts of any receiver; St. FX MLB Daniel Tshiamala also took reps as a DE and held his own. Scouts love versatility.
WR Joshua Stanford, Kanas
One personnel man told Justin Dunk on Saturday that Stanford was a “train-wreck” and didn’t understand why he even bothered to show up. It was especially disappointing to see Stanford written off before the combine had even really started, as he clearly has the talent to make it in the CFL, just not the work-ethic or the attitude. He had an exceptional freshman season with Virginia Tech, but injuries and off-field injuries have kept him off the field for most of the past two seasons. Stanford could’ve put himself back on the radar with a great combine, but his hiatus from football hurt him as he was mediocre in one-on-ones and tested rather poorly.
DT Tarique Anderson, Delaware State
Anderson was easily the most ineffective of all defensive lineman in one-on-ones, confirming his flaws that appear on tape. He struggles mightily to block-shed or perform moves with his hands, and hasn’t figured out a way to compensate for that. He’s a stiff athlete that can’t really control his movements or be agile. Scouts will like the fact that he took 11 reps, but he ultimately didn’t manage to do anything with the additional opportunities. He tested poorly, displaying a lack of athleticism and explosiveness.
RG Zachary Intzandt, McMaster
One of my sleeper prospects entering the combine, Intzandt, who has limited offensive line experience, looked raw and was very disappointing. Although the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder shows a lot of upside on tape, he looked out of place in one-on-ones. His hand placement was terrible, making himself vulnerable to all kinds of pass-rush moves. He gifted Philip Denzel the easiest swim-move of his career on one play. Intzandt simply wasn’t physical enough.
LG Roman Grozman, Concordia
Although he put up decent testing numbers, Grozman had a relatively poor one-on-one session. He was one of two offensive lineman that took reps at every position, and while scouts love versatility, that decision may have hurt his draft stock more than it helped. Grozman excels at winning battles with raw strength once engaged with the defender, but it’s putting himself in a position to engage that is the Concordia product’s issue. He was burned on four occasions: twice by swim moves as a guard and twice with speed rushes as a tackle. The upside is there, by Grozman’s draft stock still took a hit.
40-yard dash laser:
The 40-yard dash laser timer was undeniably off at the CFL combine, as not one player ran in the 4.40s or better. WR Shaquille Johnson, who ran a 4.39 at the Toronto regional, clocked a 4.6; WR Mike Jones, who scouts thought could’ve been the fastest Canadian prospect they’ve ever seen, also clocked a 4.6; Calgary RB Mercer Timmis somehow only ran a 4.7 despite playing much, much faster on tape. Technical difficulties were likely the case.
Others: Western WR Jamal Kett tested poorly once again and did nothing special in the one-on-ones; Western CB Josh Woodman was far too aggressive in one-on-ones and completely abandoned his technique; St. FX fullback Donald Tabor is a proven pass-catcher with the X-men, but needed to prove he could block well enough to play fullback in the CFL and did anything but; Western DE John Biewald needed to bulk up and it was disappointing to see him weigh in at 226-pounds. He’s a productive player but scouts won’t be able to overlook his weight.