Scouts and general managers have a few more weeks to process the film and testing results they’ve gathered on the country’s top draft-eligible prospects. Then it’s time for the draft, as many of these amateur athletes find new homes on May 3.
The CFL Scouting Combine presented by adidas painted part of the prospect picture last month in Winnipeg. Who’s trending up and who’s trending down?
We start in the trenches:
OL DAKODA SHEPLEY UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA STOCK: UP ⬆
Shepley was about as impressive as you can be at a CFL combine without dominating every one-on-one on Sunday. He ran well with good size, plays the game with a savvy beyond his age and appears ready to make a roster quickly.
Some have criticized his body type for being too lean but with time and the right surroundings a pro style body will emerge and I’d rather take an athletic tackle capable of blocking at guard or tackle against ‘tweener’ defensive lineman than a career guard bowling ball type of body with average athleticism and feet.
Shepley is impressive for a variety of reasons which continues to only help his case.
Dakoda Shepley is Marshall Ferguson’s projected No. 1 overall pick at next month’s draft (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
OL RYAN SCEVIOUR UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY STOCK: UP ⬆
Sceviour was outstanding at the CFL Scouting Combine in Winnipeg, posting respectable numbers in multiple tests while carrying himself both off-field and in pads Sunday in a way that suggested he will fit into a training camp locker room seamlessly.
OL JUSTIN LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA STOCK: DOWN ⬇
I continue to believe that Justin Lawrence is the most technically sound offensive lineman on tape in the 2018 CFL Draft. His stock is not dropping due to his performance or even necessarily his testing numbers.
I simply didn’t realize how short of height and arm length he would be after watching his tape. It should have been readily apparent as he stood next to top lineman prospect and physical specimen Mark Korte all year, but putting the numbers into true perspective as evaluators will makes me wonder if Lawrence will fall despite technical ability.
Of course all of that can be overcome with effort and persistence over time and all he needs is a chance to prove his worth.
OL MATTHEW OUELLET DE CARLO BISHOP’S UNIVERSITY STOCK: DOWN ⬇
The Bishop’s big man didn’t have a super high stock to begin with, so his chances of being a high-round draft pick didn’t fall much. But I was hoping after seeing his measurables he would test better and use that frame to work over defensive linemen at the Eastern Regional Combine.
Unfortunately he didn’t, but similar to his Gaiters teammate and defensive lineman Mathieu Breton, I believe Ouellett De Carlo will be drafted for his potential.
OL PETER GODBER RICE UNIVERSITY STOCK: STABLE
Many will look at Rice offensive lineman Peter Godber’s quick appearance at the national combine and assume it left a sour taste in scouts’ mouths. That might be true but his positive testing numbers at the Owls’ pro day just days after the Winnipeg showcase should serve as an antidote to any misgivings about his potential as a CFL Draft prospect.
Godber’s consistency on film is amongst the best in the draft, with one scout calling him a quicker version of Bombers Sukh Chung.
Despite leaving the combine early, Peter Godber justified the hype with a solid pro day (Rice University)
OL NOLAN McGREER CARLETON UNIVERSITY STOCK: SLEEPER
Nolan is an undersized blocker with good feet who I genuinely think could develop into a meaningful piece of national roster depth given the right fit and backing.
Last weekend I heard former CFLer and Edmonton Eskimos captain Kyle Koch describe to a crowd how hard he struggled as a rookie in Winnipeg before then-Bombers offensive line coach Bob Wylie pulled him aside, holding an inch distance between his thumb and index finger, telling Koch, “this is how much better you have to get every day to make this team and be here in November.”
Given that chance and proper coaching, McGreer could be one of the hidden gems we smile about in five years.
OL ARNAUD GENDRON-DUMOUCHEL UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL STOCK: MYSTERY
He’s long. Really long. One of the tallest and longest lineman ever evaluated at a CFL combine. He’s also raw and has technical flaws to overcome. Now we wait and see what perspective teams will find in the Carabins monster blocker.
DL TRISTAN KORONKIEWICZ UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN STOCK: UP ⬆
Koronkiewicz participated in the Western Regional Combine representing the Saskatchewan Huskies. A tall defensive lineman who could use some more weight to establish himself in the CFL, Tristan posted excellent quickness, agility and lower body explosion testing scores.
I could see him sneaking up the draft board between now and May similar to former Huskies teammate and Ottawa REDBLACKS 2017 draft pick Evan Johnson.
DL BRETT WADE UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY STOCK: UP ⬆
Wade is an undersized tackle with quick feet who knows how to use his hands to leverage larger offensive linemen. He tested well and made that one move at the CFL Combine each year which gets “oos” and “aahs” from the crowd in attendance, including those assessing his draft stock.
Calgary O-lineman Brett Wade stood out in one-on-ones at the national combine (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)
DL BO BANNER CENTRAL WASHINGTON STOCK: DOWN ⬇
Banner is a pass rush specialist with a body that requires him to play special teams quickly. One scout told me he wasn’t exactly enthused by the concept of special teams in a combine interview which – if true – could hurt his draft stock as a player who will either beef up to play on the line or stay as he is and be asked to earn a role on special teams.
DL RASHARI HENRY WILFRID LAURIER STOCK: DOWN ⬇
Henry is a great story and all around solid lineman but the combination of larger defensive tackles and more specialized pass rushers like Banner might drop his draft stock down a bit. If there was ever someone who understands it’s not about when you get drafted but how you perform once you get there it is Rashari Henry.
DL KENE ONYEKA CARLETON UNIVERSITY STOCK: STABLE
Onyeka is what he is. A big body with good movement skills and a variety of pass rush attacks. Those moves dazzled and confused offensive lineman in the OUA at various points this year but will they be enough to crack a roster?
The success of Laurier alum Kwaku Boateng in Edmonton this year sunsets the answer as a resounding yes.
DL MICHAEL BROUWERS McMASTER UNIVERSITY STOCK: SLEEPER
Brouwers was amongst the best testing defensive linemen at any regional combine, but did not garner a national combine invite. His production over the last two years has been inconsistent at times but the skills and athleticism are there to coach a player into CFL game day shape.
DL JOEL VAN PELT UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY STOCK: MYSTERY
Van Pelt has a special frame and comes from a program with a pedigree of creating winners, but he tested poorly and lacks the burst of a true pass rusher or large special teamer. Lots of potential but not sure where teams will slot him in, if at all.