March 13, 2012

Krawchuk generating draft buzz in Edmonton

Rose Mary Phillip

EDMONTON — Fresh off his return from CFL Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok, Eskimos Assistant Equipment Manager and CFL prospect Brent Krawchuk eagerly awaits the Canadian Draft on May 3.

He is a defensive back with the University of Alberta Golden Bears and is one of only six players in the province who attended E-camp in Toronto from March 2 – 4.

It is not an open tryout. Each of the league’s eight teams requests the players they want to evaluate. A player must be requested by at least three teams to earn an invite. Of course, tweaks are made to account for injuries and ensure representation of all positions.

Krawchuk generated buzz for himself with 72 tackles, five interceptions and 18 pass breakups since joining the Golden Bears in 2008. Before that, he was a solid DB with the Edmonton Wildcats.

To prepare for camp, he trained with former Eskimos wide receiver Kamau Peterson. “We did a lot of football specific drills out in Sherwood Park,” said Krawchuk.

“I wasn’t expecting the magnitude of camp or how much attention it brings to the upcoming season. Pretty much everyone in the CFL is there.”

It was a great opportunity to see how he measured up against the other 50+ top players from across Canada. Literally. His full measurements were taken, including hand size, height, weight and arm length as part of the three-day interview for a dream job as a pro-athlete in the CFL.

He and other prospects participated in six drills to give scouts, coaches and general managers insight into the potential future draft picks. Drills include:
•    bench press to test strength and endurance
•    vertical jump to test lower-body explosion and power
•    broad jump to test lower-body explosion and lower-body strength
•    40-yard dash to test – you guessed it – speed
•    short shuttle to test lateral quickness and explosion over short distances
•    three-cone drill to test ability to change direction at high speeds

It’s more complicated than it sounds. Each drill has specific requirements. For example, during bench press, Krawchuk had to lift 225 pounds as many times as he could while touching the bar to his chest on the way down and locking his arms at the top. That is the equivalent of him lifting Adarius Bowman holding a sack of potatoes. Hard work.

Physical ability is just part of it. One-on-one interviews allow teams to evaluate mental stamina and football IQ. It’s also an opportunity to ask prospects if they are willing to play outside their home province. That’s important. The Eskimos lured 2009 first overall draft pick Simeon Rottier away from Hamilton because he wanted to play closer to home.

Krawchuk interviewed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts. Why not Edmonton? You could argue that the Green and Gold know him pretty well by now because they see him nearly every day during the season. “The interviews were pretty intense. They bring up previous results and ask a lot in depth,” says Krawchuk.

He is obviously on the league’s radar as draft day inches closer. The Eskimos have the second and sixth overall selections. General Manager Eric Tillman has said there are a number of ways they may use (or not use) their picks.

If Krawchuk does not get drafted or sign as a free agent, he will return to the U of A and play out his last year of eligibility while he earns a degree in physical education. Playing pro ball is his dream but not his only dream.  “I want to be a firefighter when everything is said and done.”