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March 16, 2017

Antony Auclair: Does the reward outweigh the risk?

Mathieu Belanger/Laval University

Antony Auclair is a specimen. Plain and simple he is larger than any receiver to ever be evaluated in a CFL draft setting.

At six feet, five inches tall, Auclair is the second-tallest receiver ever evaluated in a pro day or combine setting. Second only to Malcolm Carter, whose six-foot, six-inch frame and stunning 40 time earned him a national combine invitation after a stellar performance at the Eastern Regional Combine last Friday.

Auclair’s 40 time was equally special at 4.82 seconds while weighing 256 pounds – again, the largest receiver ever evaluated – and he believes a tweaked hamstring held him back from running faster.

I watched Auclair live in person at the 2016 Vanier Cup and left feeling his aggression on special teams and his physicality didn’t match his natural size and ability. However, after watching film, there is plenty to contradict that and confirm what most evaluators will see this spring — that Auclair is a tall, strong dominating force over the middle and a very capable special teamer.

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Yan Doublet/Laval

Antony Auclair braces for contact in a 2016 matchup with Bishop’s (Yan Doublet/Laval)

It would be crazy to think any CFL team would not want a player of Auclair’s stature and ability put on display with the Laval Rouge et Or. He is your classic ‘best player available’ argument though due to the interest he has received from numerous NFL teams.

At what point will a CFL team look at Auclair and realize he is worth the risk and they would rather bet on seeing him at some point rather than take a developmental player of the same position?

That’s the great question surrounding Auclair in this draft and we likely won’t have an answer anytime soon as he tests the National Football League waters.

Due to Auclair’s unique size and playing style, fit is another question. We use fullbacks as tight ends, extra offensive lineman as tight ends, sometimes we even motion scrappy slotbacks and wide receivers down the line of scrimmage to act as a tight end. What the modern CFL rarely, if ever utilizes is a true in line tight end.

As a result Auclair might actually be better suited to the american game, but I would love to see him be a game changer and have an offence alter its scheme to fit his talents and skill set.

Antony Auclair: How does he stack up?

AUCLAIR, Antony - Laval - Combine Report

 

In my first mock draft I suited Auclair with the Calgary Stampeders. Could you imagine Bo Levi Mitchell with the ability to play the quick game with Marquay McDaniel, stretch the field to sophomore star DaVaris Daniels, run the ball with physical national running back Jerome Messam AND work the middle of the field with a big bodied national running seams and spacing routes?! It’s worth the risk for an already ratio wealthy Calgary squad if the payout is that type of offensive balance.

In terms of a comparable player, the combination of height, weight and speed makes a tough match. However, I see Patrick Lavoie of the Ottawa REDBLACKS as the closest comparable pass catcher. A big body rotation player tasked with handling defensive ends, working linebackers over with crisp routes and dominating defensive backs in down field blocking.

Auclair will continue to grab scouts eyes from both sides of the border throughout April. If we ever see him north of the border in June, get ready for a game-changer.