March 28, 2013

Stock Assessment: Forde’s look at the defence

Back by popular demand, yours truly spoke with TSN Canadian Football League analyst and Canadian draft junkie, Duane Forde, talking stock up, stock down or stock hold based on the performances of CFL prospects at the 2013 CFL Combine. Forde and I began our stock discussion looking at CFL hopefuls on the defensive side of the football.

Kristopher Robertson
Defensive Back
5’8” 183 pounds

Forde: “For a guy like Kris who wasn’t invited to the Toronto Combine, I think you make the obvious argument that his stock goes up, just by virtue of the fact that he earned his way in there. He didn’t look out of place with guys who were invited to Toronto ahead of him.”

“The thing I would say about Kris is that his testing was very good at the East West Bowl last year, so the things that he did at the combine were things that you knew he could do. He can run, jump and he’s very athletic. The concern remains the same with Kris – his size, he’s going to be a little bit limited because of it. I think the competitive fire aspect, with a guy like him, coming in and testing through the charts despite the fact that he had already done the testing earlier in the week is certainly a positive for Kris. I would label him as one of those guys who came from outside of the conversation, to at least put himself in the draft conversation.”  

“The other downside is obviously there isn’t a ton of jobs for Canadian defensive backs in the CFL. You maybe look at a guy like Kris with that kind of speed [4.42 in the 40] and athletic ability, depending what he shows if he’s able to get into a camp – and what he’s got on film – maybe becomes a guy who can be a headache for people on special teams because of his ability to get down the field. But again, a little bit of that is going to take overcoming his size.”

Jermaine Gabriel 
Defensive Back
5’9” 190 pounds
Calgary Colts CJFL

Forde: “I would say stock up for Jermaine. To me the book on him is probably a little different in that he’s a little bit bigger, but ran well. He’s a guy who has a little bit of a reputation for being a physical player. So I think that benefits him.”

“One of the hesitations for a guy like Jermaine is the fact that the last couple years he’s spent off the beaten path so to speak, because he was playing junior football instead of CIS. A lot of the scouts are trying to gauge him and where he fits in.”
“Two years ago he was one of the top defensive backs in the 2013 draft class, but is he still because he hasn’t played against the same level of competition as the other guys have playing in the CIS.”

“It was a positive combine for Jermaine because I don’t think he looked out of place. I think he’s most likely a free safety and he’s got to take advantage of his physical side to play that spot – use his speed to show some range, but I think he has to be physical.”

Mike Edem 
Linebacker/ Defensive Back
6’0” 205 pounds

Forde: “He’s probably as much in the mix as a defensive back as he is as a linebacker. He’s bigger and just as athletic as any of the defensive backs that were at the combine. I would say that for me, he is the best defensive back prospect in this draft class.”

“My concern with him coming into the combine and being a highly regarded prospect is, okay, he’s a great CIS player but what’s his position as a pro and does he have a spot in the CFL.”

“The thing that sold me on Mike is he’s just so athletic. I think size-wise he’ll be fine to grow into a backup SAM or WILL linebacker and you will want him to learn those spots in camp, but you also want him to learn fee safety because that may ultimately be his spot. I think athletically he showed that he’s a guy who you find a spot for him, basically. He’ll be able to play special teams and be able to contribute because he’s got good instincts and has a nose for the football – certainly athletic enough.”

“The way a lot of CFL defences are I could see him backing up at SAM. I don’t know as a young Canadian guy you want to have him spending his days matched up on the number three receiver all game. A guy like Nik Lewis would be his worst nightmare. I think Edem is a guy that as his career goes on and he gets his feet wet in the CFL he can maybe get you through a game playing one of the outside linebacker spots if you need him too. It depends on the scheme, you may have certain packages where he can play a little bit for you on defence, but absolutely I think he’s a guy who can turn out to be a handful on special teams.”

Ben D’Aguilar 
Defensive Line
6’1” 239 pounds

Forde: “Ben, to truly evaluate him, you need to look a lot at game film. No question he’s a good athlete. A lot of Ben’s success last year at McMaster hinged on the fact that he was a far better athlete than the people who were trying to block him at the CIS level. It was just a mismatch, when he was turned loose and went after the quarterback, people couldn’t handle him. Whether he can do that against bigger and more athletic CFL tackles, with things happening faster around him and having to process and adjust, those are the things you have to evaluate and determine when deciding where Ben fits in this draft.”

“For him to play defensive end on most CFL teams, you’re looking at him competing with an American player, unless you’re looking at a team like Saskatchewan and looking at him to backup Ricky Foley or maybe develop into a rotation guy – if you see Ben fitting into that kind of role.”

“Athletically there is no question he’s a guy who can compete at the next level. But again I think there is always a challenge for Canadian defensive ends, particularly the CIS guys, because it’s a different game based on who you’re going to be playing against at the defensive end spot in the CFL. That’s the challenge.”

“You have to decide can he contribute something for you on special teams and is he going to be able to – you don’t expect any player to be as dominant in the CFL as they were in college whether he is Canadian or American – make plays in the CFL based on what you saw from him making plays in college. That’s what you have to determine from the game film.”

Linden Gaydosh
Defensive Line
6’3” 314 pounds

Forde: “Gaydosh for me was the best player on the field on Sunday of the combine. He had the best combine of anybody. If rankings were based solely on the combine Linden Gaydosh would be the number one guy.”

“I thought Gaydosh was more dynamic and dominant than I expected. I think most people would say and know he’s a very good player, but I think he showed, relative to the rest of the defensive linemen group, even better than expected.”

Stefan Charles
Defensive Line
6’4” 324 pounds

Forde: “Stefan Charles certainly wasn’t a disappointment, outside of wanting to see him do more on the bench press. Other than that, Stefan Charles, for me, lived up to his billing.”

Elie Ngoyi 
Defensive Line
6’0” 258 pounds

Forde: “To me he’s a guy who is probably a defensive end rather than a defensive tackle. I know he took reps at both positions at the combine, but I’m not sure if he’s not better off a little bit lighter and playing strictly as an end. Rather than trying to play inside, although I know as a Canadian guy you always want to have as much versatility as you can.”

“He’s a tough and athletic guy. On the athleticism scale he’s not quite D’Aguilar and as an inside guy, obviously he’s not in the same class as Gaydosh and Charles, but he’s a guy who I would say is in the mix. A guy who can play a little bit for you on special teams should he have the opportunity to make a roster. He’s going to be challenged in terms of his versatility to play on the inside. He might want to play a little bit lighter and concentrate on being a defensive end and special teams guy.”

Michael Klassen 
Defensive Line
6’4” 267 pounds

Forde: “He’s a guy who I think has some upside because I think he can play heavier than his current weight. Sometimes you don’t want to get too sucked in by testing results by how athletic a guy is when he’s lighter than the rest of his group. I think that’s what happened with Klassen.”

“Certainly a guy with some upside because I think he’s got a frame where he could play heavier than he was and be an inside guy. He’s another guy who came from off the radar and put himself in the mix. Klassen could play some special teams at his current weight, but could be more of a factor on the defensive line rotation being a bit heavier. He was kind of light for a defensive tackle, but the fact is he was still third among the group on the bench press and that was with him having done another combine earlier in the week. Looking at that I would say he was another guy who had an impressive combine showing.”