March 7, 2016

Preview: Testing season kicks off with the Edmonton Regional Combine

University of Manitoba Athletics

EDMONTON – Testing season is here early this year, and it all starts at the Edmonton Regional Combine on Monday.

It’s the official beginning of one of the busiest weeks on the CFL off-season calendar, with 165 of the country’s top amateur football players competing in four different combines.

Players will compete in three regional combines in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto, with the top testers earning an invite to Toronto to take part in the annual National Combine presented by adidas from March 11-13 – all with the goal of turning heads before the 2016 CFL Draft in May.

For a full list of Edmonton Regional Combine participants, click here.

All eyes will be on Alec Pennell, Mitchell Barnett and DJ Lalama, three highly-touted players who will make their best efforts to earn a closer look next weekend in Toronto.

Pennell, the biggest player at any combine this week checking in at 6-foot-7, 334 pounds, is an offensive lineman who spent four seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds, last year helping his school capture the Vanier Cup.

His teammate Barnett is another one to watch, one of two linebackers to keep an eye on Monday along with Manitoba linebacker DJ Lalama. Lalama is one of seven Bisons at the Edmonton Regional Combine after last year recording 53 total tackles in seven games.

Last year four players from the Edmonton regional were invited to the National Combine, as defensive backs Kahlen Branning and Dexter Janke along with linebacker Auston Johnson and offensive lineman Quinn Lawlor were invited to showcase their talents in front of the entire nation.

Of the four, Lawler and Janke were the ones selected in the sixth and fifth rounds in the 2015 CFL Draft respectively. Janke was picked 44th overall after topping all regional participants with a 4.57 40-time in Edmonton, while Lawler was taken four picks later by the Alouettes, the BYU grad recording the best vertical among lineman with 31.5 inches as well as 24 bench reps, good enough for second among offensive and defensive lineman.

Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds

UBC Linebacker Mitch Barnett (Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds)

Monday’s regional combine will also include four national/international free agents who play in the CIS – none of whom will be eligible for the draft and therefore cannot receive an invitation to the National Combine.

The first regional combine kicks off at 10:30am ET with measurements, jumps and the bench press, and concludes at approximately 5:20pm ET with the announcement of National Combine invites.

After an off-day Tuesday, the action picks up Wednesday with the Montreal Regional Combine and continues Thursday with the Toronto Regional Combine. The National Combine in Toronto starts Friday. All of this week’s combine participants can be found here.

As part of our ongoing coverage leading into the 2016 CFL Combine, CFL.ca is your stop for up-to-the-minute stats, news, analysis, videos and more from across the country.

By the Numbers:

– Of the 41 currently on the Edmonton regional combine roster, 32 are draft eligible.

– A fairly balanced field will compete, eight offensive linemen, with seven defensive backs, four running backs, five linebackers, three defensive linemen and seven receivers. Three kickers and three quarterbacks, all draft eligible, will also participate.

– Saskatchewan and Manitoba are represented most at the Edmonton regional, with seven players from each participating in Monday’s combine.