Until draft day comes, you never really know. All you can do is put in the work and shine at the right time.
Neither Regina Rams receiver Riley Boersma nor Manitoba Bisons pass-catcher Gavin Cobb have seen their names on the list of top twenty CFL Draft prospects so far this season.
After excellent Regional and National Combine showings, though, it is quite possible that one or both might conceivably crack that list when the final rankings are released in April. At the very least, the two have certainly climbed the ladder ahead of the May 3 draft.
CFL COMBINE presented by New Era
» CFL Combine Live: Re-watch the entire CFL Combine
» Sunday Stars: Tyrell Richards ends Combine on a high note
» Ferguson: A deep dive on Tyrell Richards’ versatility
» For Comparison’s Sake: Projecting the Combine’s top prospects
If CFL teams are looking for speed and shiftiness, as well as a little explosive ability – and they usually are, right?- these two seem to fit the bill.
Coming out of the Western Regional Combine, Boersma and Cobb each tested very well in Toronto, where their speed and explosive abilities had them near or at the top in several drills.
Boersma’s time in the 40 was second-best at 4.49 seconds. Just behind him, in third, was Cobb at 4.53. “It was nice to actually see that happen,” said Boersma of his sub-4.5 time, a goal he’d set for himself for the national show.
The two receivers tied for top spot in the vertical, with leaps of 40.5”. A week earlier, they’d tied in that test as well, only at an even better 41.5”. Cobb won the broad jump, at just shy of 10’10”, while Boersma was third, just under 10’7”. Cobb finished third and fourth in the 3-cone and shuttle drills, respectively, while Boersma was tied for 10th in 3-cone, missing out on the shuttle due to a groin injury that surfaced.
“All in all I feel really good about what I put out there,” said Cobb of his combine performance. “I think I was I was slightly short of all the numbers I’d projected for myself. But, you know, they say you shoot for the stars and land on the moon. But, honestly, I can’t complain with the numbers that I put up.”
24-year-old Cobb scored five receiving touchdowns with the Bisons last season, catching 27 passes for 340 yards in six games. In one game against the University of Alberta, he hauled in two touchdown receptions and added a 91-yard punt return major as well. “I love to entertain when I’m on the field and I think I’m an entertaining guy to watch play,” Cobb said. Before transferring to Manitoba, the native of Victoria, B.C. played for Simon Fraser University and in 2017, he returned 48 kicks for 1041 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown.
22-year-old Boersma didn’t have what he considers a great season in 2021, pulling in 18 passes for 285 yards and a couple of touchdowns in six games with the Rams. Indeed, those numbers were off from his 2019 campaign, when he caught 21 passes for 478 yards and four majors in eight games. The native of Cambridge, Ont. hopes that what scouts see when reviewing his video is that despite a challenging campaign – the Rams went 1 and 5 and had four different starting quarterbacks in 2021 – “I still played my heart out.”
The two U SPORTS grads are similarly built, physically, each standing just shy of five-foot-10. Boersma is a bit more of a physical load to handle, weighing in at 191 pounds, while Cobb checks in at 170. Each of them had goals to meet coming into the combine, in the hopes that they could grab some attention. Mission accomplished for Boersma, who’s 40 time did indeed show his speed is not merely the off-the-mark, short-burn kind; that he has the ability to take the top off a deep route too. And Cobb wanted to show he can shake off defenders with disciplined pattern cuts.
Cobb got a chance to show off his skill against defensive backs, in Toronto, and he stood out. On the five routes I saw, he made five catches, littering those routes with a healthy number of hard cuts, causing one defensive back to lose his feet with one of those moves. On one route, Cobb quickly fought off press coverage with an inside release. On another, he made a one-handed grab on a sideline fade.
“I think it was pretty important for me to show that I can actually play receiver,” Cobb said, well aware that being a professional receiver means more than just speed. “That I’m a deep ball threat and I can also break guys off on any kind of route you need. I think I kind of showed what I can do in the one-on-one sessions.”
While Cobb got the opportunity to test out his abilities against top prospect defensive backs, Boersma had to miss the session due to his injury.
“That’s brutal timing, but it is what it is,” said Boersma. “Luckily, it’s not anything severe. It’s already feeling quite a bit better.”
Fortunately for Boersma he showed well during the one-on-ones at the regional combine, being one of the receivers singled out by scouts for extra reps. “I felt I competed well,” he said of the challenge. Like Cobb, Boersma shows an awareness that he cannot thrive as a receiver merely by relying on his burners. “I think that’s one thing I’ve really had to learn, you know, to slow down in some situations,” he said. “To make sure, you know, you don’t get there before the quarterback’s ready.”
With the rapid-fire testing of combines in consecutive weeks over for the two hopefuls, the waiting game begins. Draft day can’t come soon enough for these prospective pros, but they’ll have to wait until May 3 to see where they land. Only two receivers were on the top 20 prospects list when the winter edition came out in January; Jalen and Tyson Philpot of the Calgary Dinos. While the twins performed as expected at the combine and continue to have so many eyes fixed on them, both Cobb and Boersma can rest assured that they impressed as well, even if just where their stock stands is still a mystery.
“I’m kind of in the dark here,” said Boersma, unsure of just when he might hear his name called. “I don’t know where I’m gonna go. I think I put up really good numbers at the combine but I had a tough season this (past) year. Statistically speaking it wasn’t a huge, huge year for me.”
“Ultimately, I think what really matters is just that if I do get drafted and I have an opportunity is just to take advantage of it,” he continued. “I don’t think it’ll matter where I go. I’ll just go out show what I can do no matter what and just try to take advantage of the opportunity as long as I get one.”
Cobb agrees with that sentiment. Like any player, he says he’d love to be picked as high in the order as possible, but that there’s no sense worrying about it.
“I don’t really think the spot where you get picked really means anything,” Cobb said. “You’ve still got to go out there and compete for a job and at the end of the day, you got to get on the field and make the plays.”
With good showings at consecutive combines, both Riley Boersma and Gavin Cobb have taken advantage of the opportunities placed in front of them. Now they wait and hope they get a chance to do that again, this time at a CFL training camp.