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March 15, 2017

For Comparison’s Sake: Projecting the top prospects

CFL.ca

TORONTO — While the draft is two months away, the CFL Combine presented by adidas gives fans an early glimpse at some of the league’s top draft prospects.

Things such as one-on-ones, 40 times and bench press results can give us an idea of who each prospect is — but what can we learn before then?

As March 23 approaches, CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson paints a better picture by comparing some of the country’s top prospects with current and past CFL players.

(For more on the CFL Combine from Marshall Ferguson, see his latest on CFL.ca and visit his website, MarshallFerguson.com).

Nate Behar
REC | Carleton

Behar is a quick, talented receiver with limited drawbacks. His strong hands have allowed few drops and I rank his route running in the top five of best available receivers.

What might be most impressive about Behar is the variety of routes he runs effectively. He’s not just a deep threat despite his career yards gained and touchdowns.

Behar is a plug and play national if he can contribute on special teams as well.

Comparison: 2016 sixth overall pick and former Manitoba Bisons receiver Nic Demski


Kwaku Boateng
DE | Wilfrid Laurier

Kwaku Boateng is a specimen. At 6-foot-2, 250 pounds he has freakish ability to put his foot in the ground and change direction instantly. What makes him even more special at his size is that after his change of direction, he reaches top speed faster than most linebackers and even some defensive backs.

Boateng is sound in the screen game, using his above average recognition to diagnose plays and cancel them. He slows down considerably when the ball is away from him but when challenged with a run in his direction or given a one-on-one pass rush, Boateng delivers.

He should be an absolute force at the national combine with great tests, especially pro agility and his pass rush one-on-ones will be a show.

Comparison: Fellow Golden Hawk alumni and current Roughrider Ese Mrabure, who was drafted fifth overall by the BC Lions in 2015.


Jordan Herdman
LB | Simon Fraser

Herdman really impressed me at the Senior Bowl this January. Competing against the NCAA’s best, he looked like a a D-II guy just trying to make a name for himself by outworking everyone — and it worked for me. He is fast to the football, delivers a blow far beyond his 5-foot-11 frame and makes really sound run reads without jumping out of his fit.

Herdman can get worked by wrecking ball offensive linemen but his lateral agility and natural feel for the linebacker position avoids many of these situations. In pass coverage, he is fast enough to run with outs and verts but physical enough to deal with option and circle routes.

Any team would be lucky to have him.

Comparison: Jordan is a more athletic and physical version of Terrell Davis, Hamilton’s 21st overall in 2016 out of the University of British Columbia. I see him as a tackling machine at the CFL level like JC Sherritt or Adam Bighill.


Connor McGough
DE | Calgary

McGough has the best bend around the edge of any of the Dinos’ five combine-bound defensive linemen, while having the pure power to uproot even the largest offensive linemen in U Sports.

It’s clear he was a coach favourite as he got to play everywhere on defence, serving as the head of protection on Calgary’s punt unit.

McGough has great hand speed and placement to gain leverage and fantastic awareness in most situations, including shortening the edge against roll protection — something he saw a lot of in the CanWest conference.

Comparison: Cameron Walker, the 21st overall pick by the Toronto Argonauts in 2015 out of Guelph.


Danny Vandervoort
WR | McMaster

Danny Vandervoort is as athletic a receiver as there is in the CIS. His route running discipline shows marked improvement. He’s smooth in and out of breaks.

While his run game physicality has vastly improved throughout his CIS career, there’s still room for improvement.

What stands out about Vandervoort is he can high point the ball better than anyone in the 2017 draft. He’s an elite Canadian talent with long-term ratio implications.

Comparison: 2007 first overall pick Chris Bauman.


Mason Woods
OL | Idaho

Mason Woods is a solid but unspectacular pass blocker. His feet rarely, if ever, get crossed, and he was able to anchor without giving up any pressure most snaps against a stout Washington Huskies defensive line.

Woods showed flexibility, moving from left guard to right guard and back. He’s not a strong run blocker, especially for a guard, and seems relatively slow off the ball when pulling across the formation.

Woods is a solid national depth developmental lineman.

Comparison: Former Manitoba Bisons offensive lineman Landon Rice, who was signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013.


Robert Woodson
DB | CGY

Woodson has fast feet and an ability to drive on the ball with lightning speed when his recognition is at a high level. He’s slow to diagnose at times but has more than enough athleticism to make up for it.

Woodson doesn’t have true safety instincts but put in man as a halfback can battle with anyone. He’s a very ‘handsy’ defender who will have to use his superior catching ability to play the ball rather than the man on jump balls moving forward.

Comparison: Woodson is a slashing ball hawk slightly on the smaller side but is able to drive downhill and make tackles on anyone. His closest comparison is Matt Black, who went 45th overall to the Argos in 2008.


Dondre Wright
DB | Henderson State

Despite being 5-foot-11, Wright defuses any challenge brought to him on game day. I was blown away by his ability to maintain leverage and set the edge against run plays.

Wright has long arms and is almost always first to engage while rarely running around contact. He plays the man rather than the ball, even when an interception is possible, but he has great hands when deciding to attack the ball.

As physical a defensive back as there is in this year’s draft, Wright could have a tough time adjusting to the illegal contact rule in the CFL. He’s a high-energy bulldog who loves to celebrate.

Comparison: When I watch Wright play, all I see is Keon Raymond. A low to the ground, heat-seeking missile with a ‘me against the world’ attitude.