March 12, 2024

The Great 8: Meet the invitees headed to CFL Combine

Andrew Lahodynskyj/

Each and every CFL winter players from across the country grind their way through multiple days a week of training. Hidden from the stadiums they’ll attack come fall, the winter office is on a track or in a weight room looking to maximize any untapped potential.

For those heading into their second or third years this is most likely all about getting ready for the next U SPORTS opportunity, but for those players entering their senior seasons the draft is dead straight ahead.

Before reaching draft night, those on the eligible list spend much of their cold weather months training with specificity for the CFL Combine presented by New Era, while also trying to juggle class and time on field to be more than just a testing success.

All of it puts pressure on the invitees from a variety of angles but these eight names found a way to clear the first hurdle of what they hope will be a rewarding CFL journey at last weeks Invitational Combine in Waterloo, earning a nomination to the CFL Combine in Winnipeg.

CFL COMBINE presented by New EraCFL COMBINE presented by New Era
» Eight players advance following Invitational Combine
 Combine Ready: 4 things to know about Daniel Okpoko
» Invitational Combine Leaderboard: Top 5 from every drill

Nicholas Gendron | WR | Ottawa | Gatineau, Que.

Gendron (#8) is one of two wide receiver prospects in Waterloo that were invited to the CFL Combine in Winnipeg (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

Slightly undersized but packing plenty of punch especially while accelerating out of breaks, Gendron will represent the Gee-Gees in Winnipeg after a solid effort at the Invitational Combine after coming off a career high 31 catches in 2023.

Kaine Stevenson | WR | Guelph | Windsor, Ont.

Stevenson (#11) rounds up the pass-catchers who made it to Winnipeg (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

A thicker slot body type, Stevenson will be looking to continue the trend of underrated and discounted Gryphon pass-catchers who hop through the CFL Combine process and land on solid ground in the league. He’ll have his work cutout at the CFL Combine to separate from the length of the nation’s best ball hawks.

Ethan Kalra | OL | Waterloo | Acton, Ont.

Marchant (#50), Sombach (#54), Mueller (#34), Kalra (#33), Gendron (#8), Janvier-Messier (#65), Gouadfel (#48) and Stevenson (#11) will have a chance to impress scouts in Winnipeg (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

A true guard body type, Kalra will be at a reach disadvantage to much of the National and Global prospects invited to Winnipeg but has the scrappy temperament to hold his own with his best testing number coming under the 225 pounds of the bench press.

Owen Mueller | OL | Windsor | London, Ont.

Mueller (#34) draws comparisons to REDBLACKS’ offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais according to Marshall Ferguson.

Owen Mueller had the best pure testing day of any player at any position. His natural size and athleticism with a well rounded athletic profile and solid game tape will draw comparisons to former Lancers’ top pick Drew Desjarlais after the CFL Combine.

If he stays steady and even keeled through the one-on-ones we could be looking at a Zach Pelehos like stock jump heading towards draft night.

Yani Gouadfel | DB | Bishop’s | Mitry-Mory, France

Gouadfel (left, #48) impressed scouts with his numbers at the Invitational Combine in Waterloo (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

Lean and long with great acceleration and lower body pop in the broad jump, Gouadfel totalled six interceptions and twelve passes defended in 2023 while almost doubling his previous career high in total tackles.

In the CFL Combine’s new format with extended practice reps there might be no player with more to gain than Gouadfel as a halfback and free safety in front of each teams coaches.

Dawson Marchant | DB | Northwestern Oklahoma State | Surrey, B.C.

Marchant (#50) was invited to Winnipeg after finishing near the top in several drills, including first on the Broad Jump (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

From Surrey, B.C. through Northwestern Oklahoma State, Marchant continues the recent trend of extremely tall defensive backs making their way to the CFL Combine by any means necessary. He tested well and will get endless reps in Winnipeg to show he’s worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft for what looks like another strong defensive back group.

Jackson Sombach | DB | Regina | Regina

Sombach topped the 40-yard dash and vertical jump in the Invitational Combine to earn a trip to the CFL Combine in Winnipeg (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

Short, thick and strong. Jackson Sombach isn’t quite fellow Rams defensive back Jaxon Ford in stature and polish, but he has a similar build and mentality from playing in Regina. That same thought process and approach at the draft drew Ford all the way to 11th overall in 2023, how high can it take Sombach?

Jason Janvier-Messier | DL | York | Beloeil, Que.

Janvier-Messier (#65) was the only defensive tackle invited from Waterloo to Winnipeg (Andrew Lahodynskyj/

The only defensive lineman to make it through the Invitational Combine to Winnipeg, Janvier-Messier is your prototypical undersized speed rush specialist who will likely be asked to take reps at rush end and weak side linebacker through team practices at the CFL Combine. If history is any indication, that flexibility has been extremely valuable to clubs come draft night.

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