May 23, 2012

Dunk: Top 10 prospects to watch for in 2013 Draft

David Moll

With the 2012 Canadian Football League draft in the books, scouts around the league have turned their attention to the 2013 draft class.

The scouting process began anew at the 2012 CIS East West Bowl, which took place from May 7-12.

Ultimately, the event featured a week of testing and practices that was capped by a game where CFL personnel men got their first look at the top CIS athletes eligible for the 2013 draft.

After talking to a number of CFL scouts across the country, I compiled a list of the top CIS prospects to watch during the university football season, with an eye towards the 2013 talent grab.

Just on the outside:

Matthew Albright – 6’5, 295 lbs – Saint Mary’s – OL

Simon Le Marquand – 6’1, 199 lbs – Ottawa – REC

10) Matt Vonk  – 6’4, 280 lbs – Waterloo – OL

2011 CIS Season: Sat out due to transfer rules

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Played offensive line for the West team

Scouts take: “He’s a real athletic kid. Probably needs to move inside. He is just made to play offensive line, he’s got great technique, very good knee bend, sits in his stance really well, kind of textbook form. He has a mean side to him, he’s nasty, a finisher, just needs to fill out. He doesn’t have very good anchor, but he doesn’t have any fat on him. If he keeps working out hard, you’d think he should be able to get himself over 300 pounds.”

9) Michael DiCroce – 5’11, 192 lbs – McMaster – REC

2011 CIS season: Eight regular season games, 48 receptions for 904 yards, led the CIS in receiving yards, six touchdowns tied for third best among all CIS receivers, 1st team All-Canadian selection

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Two receptions for 16 yards

Scouts take: “He didn’t run very well, but he’s made so many plays and he’s a very quick, smart route runner, very good hands and good leaping ability for a little guy. He’s got that short kind of quicker roadrunner style stride. I think he’s much faster than what he timed. He’s made a lot of different plays over the years. He’s tough.”

“Mike, overall, is a good athlete. He’s not great at anything. He’s very good at everything. He’s quick, he’s elusive, he can catch the ball – he made big plays in the Vanier Cup. He’s competitive, a hard-nosed kid. He’ll go up and catch the ball in traffic. Doesn’t drop the ball very often. The only thing he needs to work on, and I’m sure he will, is his straight speed.”

“May be a Brock Ralph type receiver.”

8) Elie Ngoyi – 6’2, 270 lbs – Bishop’s – DL

2011 CIS season: Seven regular season games, 17 tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 25.5 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Two assisted tackles, tied for most repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press with 31

Scouts take: “He’s a little raw right now. He’s like a Junior Turner type guy. I don’t know where he fits best yet. He’s been playing end, I’ve seen him play inside at Bishop’s. He ran really well and he’s put together. He did everything really well when it came to testing. On the field he’s a little bit raw still in terms of technique, but his athleticism can bail him out of that. Lots of people are talking about him already. He’s got all the tools to get much better. He’s another one of those specimen kids that is really put together.”

“The way he used his hands, his quickness off the line he’s aggressive and he’s physical – you could tell he has an idea how to pass rush.”

7) Brett Jones – 6’2, 305 lbs – Regina – OL

2011 CIS season: 7 regular season games, 1st team All-Canadian selection at guard, University of Regina Male Athlete of the Year, named Canada West’s nominee for the Russ Jackson Award

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Played offensive line for the West team

Scouts take: “Not the tallest guy, but this kid has got every chance to be the same type of player as Matt Norman. He’s got the frame, he moves really well, got natural knee bend, good feet, sits really well in his stance, punches well, he’s aggressive.  He’s a centre or guard type, probably could play both.”

“Physical, tough kid, typical Regina offensive lineman. Not the prettiest, but very physical, finishes plays, I think he can be a pretty good player.”

6) Yannick Morin-Plante – 6’0, 190 lbs – Laval – REC

2011 CIS season: Nine games, 13 receptions for 176 yards

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Four receptions for 47 yards, fastest electronic 40-yard dash time among all participants at 4.53 seconds

Scouts take: “He’s a smooth athlete and has good skills, knows how to run routes. Little inconsistent with his hands, but I think he can catch the ball. He made some nice catches, but it’s just the odd one he dropped.”

“A quick, shifty receiver. Good hands, has good speed and has the ability to stretch the field. Could be like a Pat Woodcock.”

5) Ben D’Aguilar – 6’2, 235 lbs – McMaster – LB/DE

2011 CIS season: Seven games played, 16 solo tackles, two assisted tackles, two sacks, 1 interception

In seven games in 2011, D’Aguilar registered 16 solo tackles, two assisted tackles, two sacks, 1 interception

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Six solo tackles to lead all defensive players in the game, 1 assisted tackle, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, tied for best broad jump among all participants at 10’1

Scouts take: “He had an awesome game, but you just don’t know where you’re going to play him just yet. He struggles with some football aptitude and instincts. The play happens and it takes a second for him to get going in one direction. Or he just kind of flies towards something that’s not there, but the kid can run. He hasn’t played a lot because of some of these issues I think. He’s explosive and he’s got great size. When you see him run you’re kind of like ‘wow’, you see why he was an NCAA recruit. He had a full ride to Arkansas and there were some issues with him going to a prep school. It wasn’t something he wanted to do. He’s pretty impressive – 238 pounds and ran in the 4.6s. He moves smoother than Frederic Plesius. Plesius didn’t have great instincts, but D’Aguilar is behind him in that regard. He moves well, really good on special teams – he’s physical. They’ve been playing him mostly at defensive end, but you’ll find a way to use him at our level for sure. He looks like a weak side linebacker. When you look at him you don’t think he weighs as much as he does. He’s very muscled up and chiseled. Maybe not as instinctual as [McMaster product] Ray Mariuz, but is a far superior athlete.”

“The kid is such a physical beast. His play may not be indicative, but of all the kids with the physical attributes to compete and contribute in the CFL, that is the guy. If he get things figured out and the game slows down for him, he’s a slam-dunk CFL guy, just because he looks the way he looks and runs the way he runs.”

“Needs to step up and be a top defensive player in the OUA this year.”

4) Steven Lumbala – 5’11, 215 lbs – Calgary – RB

2011 CIS Season: 111 carries for 898 yards, fourth highest total in the CIS, 7 rushing touchdowns, 5 receptions for 51 yards, 1st team All-Canadian selection

2012 CIS East West Bowl: 13 carries for 77 yards, 8 receptions for 15 yards

Scouts take: “He didn’t run well, but I think he’s much faster than he showed. He’s strong – he’s actually taller than you think when you see him in person – he runs very low to the ground, kind of like a bowling ball. He’s got great balance, very good hands out of the backfield, good instincts if the quarterback is in trouble. Made some catches on difficult passes. He could [be a starter], will see over the course of this year how he stays healthy, but I think he’s going to be a guy that teams who employ a Canadian running back would love to team this guy up with. He might take a bit of time to develop like an Andrew Harris before he can get that role. He shows you that he’s going to be a good special teams player, just by the way he plays. I didn’t realize how tough and scrappy he is. He’s well put together, thick in the lower body.”

“He’s got a chance to start in the CFL. Steven does everything well, I mean everything. He can catch the ball, he knows how to carry the ball – he has no ball security issues. He has quickness, he’s got some straight-line speed – he is a polished player. I think he’ll go early in the draft depending on who needs a Canadian running back or wants to use one. I do believe he has a lot of skill sets and a huge upside. If he wants to start, then he’s got to continue to work on his speed.”

“He would start as a back up early in his career and see how he develops. He has really good film from last year. He’s just a natural running back you can tell by the way he carries the ball. He’s not a physical as Jon Cornish is and he’s smaller than Cornish as well. Cornish or Andrew Harris right now would be ok comparisons. He’s a different type of runner.”

3) Matthew Sewell – 6’7, 330 lbs – McMaster – OL

2011 CIS season: Part of an offensive line that helped pave the way for the number one ranked offence in terms of yards gained per game, 530.5, in the CIS, 2nd team All-Canadian selection at tackle

2012 CIS East West Bowl: Played offensive line for the West team

Scouts take: “Stood out the most to me. There will be some people that might not be as high on him, but he’s got all the tools to be really good. He could be someone that we don’t even see, in my opinion, in the CFL. I think he’s quite a bit ahead of a guy like Matt O’Donnell at the same stage in their career. He’s massive, 6’7, 330 pounds, doesn’t really look 330. His legs are pretty athletic looking, he’s got good feet and he’s just so big. He’s got good knee bend and he’s pretty impressive. Definitely is someone who is probably going to go to the Shrine Game. He, potentially, might not even be in our league. He’s going to be a tackle and those guys are worth a lot in our league. He’s pretty special that kid. He’s pretty athletic for being a monster. Some people have questioned how hard he works.”

“Matt is probably the biggest guy in the draft. He’s another guy that’s worked hard to change his body type, he doesn’t carry a lot of body fat. He’s got good knee bend, can move his feet well on contact. The thing for him is he needs to stay healthy and needs to demonstrate a little bit more finish on plays. When you look at him on tape from last year, he’s capable of dominating, but it would really help his stock if he showed that he could dominate on every play.  He’s got a bigger upside than Ben Heenan because he is three inches taller.”

“Matt Sewell would be the top ranked offensive lineman, in my opinion. He impressed the CFL coaches that were there because, at his size, he has the ability to move his feet. So you see him as a potential tackle. He’s the same size as a lot of the Canadian tackles.”

2) Stefan Charles – 6’5, 302 lbs – Regina – DL

2011 CIS season: 19 tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 27.5 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss tied for ninth in the CIS, one forced fumble, two knockdowns, 1st team All-Canadian in 2011 at defensive tackle

2012 CIS East West Bowl: One assisted tackle

Scouts take: “This is based on last year’s film. I thought he kind of outplayed [Akiem] Hicks. I’ve heard more than a few people say that, he was just more consistent and just as dominant, just as athletic as Hicks. He looked too heavy. He still played well, but to be successful in the CFL he needs to be lighter. He’s definitely an inside guy for either league. He’s another guy that very much could get a Shrine invite and the NFL scouts have watched so much film on him because of watching Hicks’ tape – he could be a guy that isn’t in our league. He needs to get himself in better shape. He looked bulky and didn’t need to be carrying all that weight. You’d want him to lose at least 20 pounds. He wasn’t sloppy he just kind of looked like a sausage.”

“CFL ready defensive lineman.”

1) Linden Gaydosh – 6’4, 305 lbs – Calgary – DL

2011 CIS season: 15 tackles, 11 assisted tackles, 20.5 total tackles, Four sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, one knockdown, 2nd team All-Canadian selection at defensive tackle

2012 CIS East West Bowl: One assisted tackle, tied for most repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press with 31

Scouts take: “Linden’s playe
d right from the get-go at the University of Calgary. He’s got a lot of experience in big games. He was an impact player right away as a freshman. He’s changed his body type from when he got there. He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s trimmed up and a lot more athletic. As long as he continues to become more athletic and doesn’t get too stiff, he can have a nice career in the CFL as a defensive tackle.”

“He’s an inside guy and moves really well, pretty nimble on his feet. He’s slippery and he gets some good push. He runs decently too. He’s a nose type guy. He’s very experienced and he’s stayed relatively healthy too.”  

“CFL ready defensive lineman.”