March 20, 2014

Dunk: Top 15 prospects to watch at Combine


This is not meant to be a list of the pure best 15 players who will take part in the 2014 CFL Combine presented by Reebok, although it is a talented group.

For various reasons, and in no particular order, these are the most intriguing athletes to keep close tabs on for the entire National talent assessment event.

Anthony Coombs, RB, Manitoba

Related: CFL Regional Combines

Headlines and Results:
» Dunk’s Top 15 to watch at Combine
» Four from Toronto added to National Combine
» Toronto Regional Combine Results
» Lapointe ready to prove doubters wrong

» Five from Montreal added to National roster
» Montreal Regional Combine Results

» A look ahead to the Montreal Regional Combine
» Edmonton Combine sets early standard
» Edmonton Regional Combine Results
» Five players make it out of Edmonton Regional
» A look ahead to the Edmonton Regional Combine

» CFL Official Scouting Bureau

» Combine Insider: Player Arrivals
» REDBLACKS’ Campbell Impressed with Talent
» Milton Staying on Home Turf
» Calvillo Relishing Scouting Role

» Dupuis Ready to Rock Toronto

» Lapointe Out to Prove a Point
» Bourassa Excited for Toronto chance
Five from Montreal heading to Toronto
Five Players Invited to National Combine
Thomas Miles Advances to Main Combine
» Paterson Earns Invite to Toronto
» Ed Hervey 1-on-1

» Montreal Regional Combine
Edmonton Regional Combine

Coombs is certainly one of the most dynamic offensive players eligible for the 2014 Draft. He led the CIS with 1,524 yards from scrimmage in 2013, including 1,015 rushing.

The Winnipeg native needs to run a fast 40 to confirm that he is the type of athlete that can compete with imports in the CFL. And he needs to prove to scouts that his size won’t be an issue and he can take the pounding required by a running back at the pro level.

It also would be beneficial for him to take one-on-one reps against defensive backs at the combine to show his potential as a receiver.

Devon Bailey, REC, St. Francis Xavier

He just might be the most naturally gifted player in the 2014 class, but that title works against Bailey as well. He’s got all of the tools and athleticism required to play at the CFL level, but teams want to find out about his work ethic and make sure he’s not just going to show up and rely on his natural abilities.

He displays flashes of brilliance on tape, but also takes plays off, so teams will want to get inside his head during interviews to get answers.

Kristopher Bastien, REC, Concordia

Already sporting the type of frame scouts like to see in a CFL receiver, Bastien must show he can create separation in the one-on-one portion of the combine. He has proven he can find holes in zones and make contested catches, but scouts would like to see him ‘win’ more consistently in man coverage.

Alexander Fox, REC, Bishop’s

One can’t argue with Fox’s production. He was the only CIS receiver to go over the 1,000-yard mark in 2013, and he did it in the best defensive conference in the country, no less. Fox needs to prove his size – his measured height was 5’07” ½ at the 2013 East West Bowl – isn’t an issue by showing he can jump in the range or better than the taller athletes at his position. As well, if he can display short area explosion it will help set him apart from the rest of the receivers.

Brian Marshall, REC, Western

Every single CFL scout is anxious to get a 40-yard time on Marshall because he did not run at the 2013 East West Bowl. Marshall has been very productive during his career at Western and he is a well put-together athlete.

Marshall has CFL bloodlines, which all scouts will like, and he’s been born and raised around the game of football.

His father Greg Marshall is one of the best coaches in Canadian university football who won a Hec Crighton Trophy in 1980 and also suited up for the Edmonton Eskimos.

Alex Pierzchalski, REC, Toronto

If teams are looking for a classic, big Canadian slot receiver, Pierzchalski fits the mold. He measured in at 6’03” ½ and 222 pounds at the 2013 East West Bowl.

Scouts would like to see explosion in the testing portion of the Combine. On film he ran a lot of short routes, so showing the ability to run the full route tree in one-on-ones will be important.

David Foucault, OL, Montreal

The bench press and the on-field portion of the Combine will be most important for Foucault. Scouts want to confirm his strength and see how physical he can be in the one-on-ones because sometimes he plays smaller than his massive size on film. He needs to show a mean streak and finish off defenders when he has the chance.

Matthias Goossen, OL, Simon Fraser

The more scouts see of Goosen, the more he seems to rise on draft boards. Take the Winter Scouting Bureau rankings list for example where he moved from the 15th rated prospect to number five.

He needs to carry the upward momentum through the Combine and show he will have no problem adjusting back to defensive linemen coming at him from a yard off the ball.

Pierre Lavertu, OL, Laval

Lavertu’s Combine trip will be all about trying to cement his status as a worthy first round selection. He has the frame to play on the interior of the offensive line in the CFL, likely best at centre. He made all of the offensive line calls for Laval at the line of scrimmage and teams will get him up on the whiteboard in interviews to see what calls he would make in their schemes.

Dylan Ainsworth, DL, Western

Scouts are hoping to see Ainsworth show up at the Combine with a little added weight, while still being able to display his awesome athleticism.

He is about as athletic as they come for a defensive line prospect, but Ainsworth needs to prove he can transfer his physical abilities onto the field and be a force on special teams while developing as an edge rusher at the pro level.

Scouting Bureau

Queen’s DB Andrew Lue is the eighth ranked prospect according to the league’s Scouting Bureau, and he’s also one of 15 prospects Justin Dunk wants you to keep an eye on.

» Full Winter Rankings

Evan Gill, DL, Manitoba

Reportedly Gill has added about 20 pounds of muscle to his frame to put him over 300 pounds while training for the combine down in Florida.

Scouts have seen a little bit of inconsistency in his effort on tape so it will be important for Gill to go out and dominate each one-on-one rep to put a stamp of approval on being a legitimate, big time, first round prospect.

Jesse Briggs, LB, McGill

Briggs could have the most to gain out of the linebacker group with a strong Combine. He has the size to play in the CFL and will do well in the testing portion of the combine. Briggs needs to confirm for scouts that his raw athleticism can transfer to on-field success at the pro level.

Casey Chin, LB, Simon Fraser

If Chin follows up his on-field results with strong Combine numbers, he could make a leap up the draft board. Chin has been a tackling machine at Simon Fraser. He led the NCAA Division II GNAC conference in tackles for three straight seasons including a career-high, 119 tackles in 2013. Scouts are very interested to see all of his testing results.

Andrew Lue, DB, Queen’s

Lue has a rare combination of size and coverage ability for a Canadian defensive back. He’s a long, athletic prospect who is tough and physically impressive. Lue needs to lay down a fast 40-yard time and lock down receivers in the one-on-one potion of the combine to solidify his status as a high-end, first round talent.

Adam Thibault, DB, Laval

If you’re looking for the heavy favourite to run the fastest 40-yard time, Thibault is the man. His testing numbers across the board are sure to impress, but athleticism is not the biggest concern among scouts. For the Laval receiver turned defensive back it will be all about the mental side of the game.

He was the starter at safety to begin the 2013 CIS season for the Rouge et Or, but by the end of the year he lost the job. In interviews teams will want to find out what he thinks his downfall was and how he can fix it. Also, teams will be very interested to get a sense of Thibault’s overall level of football smarts.