REGINA — With the Regional and National Combines cancelled in March, general managers and scouts didn’t get the opportunity to see prospects with CFL dreams in person.
They didn’t get to see who had the fastest 40 or who benched 225-pounds the most times and they weren’t able to see each player go head to head in the one-on-one drills.
But despite not being able to showcase their skills on the league’s biggest stage, prospects and their agents are finding creative ways to up their stock ahead of the 2020 CFL Draft from the comfort of their own homes.
“It’s actually been a very unique situation where agents are starting to get real creative with getting across the information,” Roughriders GM Jeremy O’Day told members of the media on a video conference call from his home on Tuesday.
“I think the first thing that they (agents) wanted to do is to ask us what they could do to help to put their players in a position where they can get the information to us so they’ve gotten real creative.”
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That creativity has come in the from of videos sent right to the Rougriders front office staff.
“We’ve gotten plenty of videos of our players that are actually shooting the measurables right in their house or outside on their deck, some in their bathrooms,” said O’Day. “And they’re doing basically all of the measurables that we would do at the combine.”
The videos are shot by whoever the prospects have been social distancing with and no measurable is skipped, including height and weight.
“They’re zooming in on the measurable so you’re getting an accurate measurable,” said the Riders GM. “It’s pretty neat that I’ve seen a lot of different scales in the last couple days of guys that are stepping on the scale and recording their weight for us. So that’s something we’ve had to adapt to.”
A major part of the scouting process is seeing the players in action and O’Day and co. are relying heavily on film since they weren’t able to watch each hopeful put on their pads and battle at the combine.
“A lot of our work is really through through film work and evaluation of the tape of them playing in the games,” O’Day said. “The players that were in the East-West game, any Pro Days then happened prior to them being shut down. We have all that information and we’re trying to compile it all the best we can.”
With each member of the Riders scouting team social distancing, they have time to watch massive amounts of film as they start to develop their draft board and key in on who they’d like to select in the draft. The team holds the seventh overall pick and then don’t select again until the fourth round (30th overall).
“They have less draft picks than many other teams including just one selection in the top 30 picks, seventh overall, so they have to hit on that pick to make this draft count,” said CFL.ca’s draft expert, Marshall Ferguson. “I could see them solidifying their offensive line depth or adding a dynamic special teams player. They don’t need to invest at receiver after spending both their top picks on pass catchers last year in Justin McInnis and Brayden Lenius.”
McInnis, a six-foot-six, 210-pound receiver was taken by Saskatchewan in the first round (seventh overall) in last year’s draft while Lenius, who is six-foot-five and 230 pounds, was taken in the second (15th overall). While neither played much on offence last season, both could be ready for a bigger role heading into 2020.
But before that can happen, the Riders and O’Day must take all of the home videos and film they’ve watched into consideration as they make their decisions on who to select on April 30.