TORONTO — The country’s top football talent was put on display for scouts, general managers and fans alike at the CFL Combine presented by New Era last weekend.
While there were many prospects who impressed, it was the receivers that stole the show.
Laurier’s Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and Queen’s Chris Osei-Kusi put on a show over the two-day event in Toronto and they turned the heads of Donnovan Bennett and Davis Sanchez of the The Waggle podcast presented by Sport Clips.
Osei-Kusi tested exceptionally well, running the fastest 40-yard dash (4.47 seconds) and had 19 reps on the bench press, the most of all pass-catchers. He also was impressive in his one-on-one reps.
Episode 151: Pass-catchers steal the Combine show
EPISODE OVERVIEW: Davis and Donnovan break down the top performers, and no-shows, from the 2019 CFL Combine presented by New Era. This week, they dive especially into a deep pool of talented Canadian receivers.
EPISODE RUNDOWN: Draft board risers (2:55); Osei-Kusi vs Gittens Jr.: who is the top guy? (12:00); Canadian O’Connor refuses to test (33:00); Rules committee changes (39:30).
Along with having good testing and one-on-one sessions in Toronto, Gittens Jr. had the game film to back up what he displayed at Varsity Stadium.
So which one is the top prospect?
“How do you evaluate those two things and determine what stock you’re going to put in one over the other?” questioned Bennett. “Is it the three-day resume that Osei-Kusi put up? Or is it the four-year resume that Gittens Jr. put up?”
Both Bennett and Sanchez agree that Gittens Jr.’s career film as a member of the Golden Hawks doesn’t lie.
“Gittens Jr., what he did over his career, you can’t doubt that,” said Sanchez. “Production is what it is. He’s a player and he’s a proven player and remember every year he was a marked man. Every week on the white board, they’re circling him and he’s the guy that’s being double-teamed and coverage going towards him.”
“I can’t forget the 200 receptions,” Bennett added. “I can’t forget the 2,656 yards. I can’t for that, similar to Osei-Kusi, he had a sliding door in terms of quarterbacks throughout his career. He’s had a lot of different guys who he was catching the ball from and the production stayed the same.”
It was Osei-Kusi’s potential that had caught the attention of the podcast duo.
“Osei-Kusi, over the span of the combine, and obviously the season, he’s impressive,” Sanchez continued. “That’s someone that you look at for sheer potential.”
Osei-Kusi finished the combine weekend with the best 40-yard dash time (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
To add even more intrigue to the receiver class conversation, Sanchez says that St. Francis University’s Kaion Julien-Grant is another pass-catcher to keep any eye on heading into the draft because of his effective route running that he put on display at the combine.
“When I looked at him running routes, he jumped out to me. Adding him to that mix (of top receivers),” Sanchez said. “He jumped out because the way he ran his routes, the power in his lower body while still getting in and out of breaks (impressed me). A lot of receivers you will see, and this is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, guys being able to chop their feet and get in and out of breaks. That’s what you need to do as a receiver.
“If you watch Grant run his routes, he still has that fluidity, that quickness getting in and out of his breaks but he runs smooth and powerful.”
While it’s not uncommon for the top few rounds of the CFL Draft to be filled with offensive lineman, Sanchez says that this year’s receiver class is so strong that they, including Osei-Kusi, Gittens Jr. and Julien-Grant, will take up some of those spots.
“I could see five receivers going in the top three rounds, easily,” said Sanchez.
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