March 15, 2024

Numbers Game: Who’s set to have a big CFL Combine?

UBC Athletics

Once again, it’s that time of year to dive into the numbers and see who will make a splash at the CFL Combine presented by New Era.

This edition will feature Global talent that have trained to show out at the biggest showcase possible in the CFL Combine landscape, but they will be met with fierce competition from 71 national participants who over months have worked their way toward testing goals in hopes of making noise for CFL scouts and evaluators.

Of course, numbers are just a piece of the puzzle as teams aim to fully understand what the potential of each prospect is and how they interact in a team setting means much more than a bench press or 40-yard dash.

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That being said, there is a base-level of analysis required to meet the CFL’s level of play and this is a requirement to be ‘draft worthy.’

The names listed below will aim to be much more than just a late round pick, they will push to challenge the top of the leaderboards on this week in Winnipeg and perhaps even take the crown of best in show with an overall performance that makes evaluators rethink their draft grade on the CFL’s next generation of top flight talent.


Last year the 2023 East-West Bowl in Hamilton, offensive lineman Jaxon Morkin put up 28 reps of the 225-pound bench press weight to finish second behind only hometown participant and McMaster defensive lineman Mitch Price, who competed recently at the CFL Invitational Combine in Waterloo with a class leading 30 reps.

Morkin has the potential to set a benchmark, pun intended, number in Winnipeg this week, but will be chased closely by another 2023 East-West Bowl name of note in UBC fullback Ben Hladik, who put up 22 reps last spring at the CFL’s showcase scouting event.


Will receiver D’Sean Mimbs run the fastest 40-yard dash next week? (University of Regina Athletics)

Put on the tape of any Regina Rams football game from the past few seasons and it’s easy to see why receiver D’Sean Mimbs is a threat to take home the quick twitch away for fastest off the line.

While lineman can post incredible numbers of burst and acceleration at their height and weight, the CFL’s premier 10-yard dash experts usually reside in the defensive back, running back and receiver positional groups and after Mimbs laid down a third place 1.67 at the 2023 East-West Bowl, I have to believe he’ll be even quicker out of the proverbial blocks in Winnipeg.


With every quick 40-yard time comes a quick 10-yard time and Mimbs is still the favourite, but don’t count out Alberta running back Matthew Peterson or dynamic Manitoba receiver AK Gassama for top spot in the CFL’s marquee combine streaming element.


Usually the ‘skinnys’ are the ones who get all the love in tests of vertical leaping ability and this could be true with the aforementioned Gassama, Laval receiver Antoine Frederik or Mount Allison defensive back Daniel Bell.

But don’t be surprised if Laurier’s stud pass-rusher Luke Brubacher draws the ultimate oohs and aahs of this test following his mind-blowing 38” leap last spring at the East-West Bowl and an outstanding 2023 campaign for the Golden Hawks that showed he’s much more than just a testing number.


Once again, the usual suspects of Mimbs, Brubacher, Gassama and company will likely lead the way for U SPORTS products here, but don’t count out McMaster defensive lineman Owen Hubert or Concordia linebacker Zachary Philion as defence looks to the the top spot in the ultimate lower body explosion test in Winnipeg.


Both shuttle and 3-cone times were nullified last year the East-West Bowl due to a ton of rainfall and some injury concerns, but my monopoly money for this – as always – would land squarely on the undersized receivers and defensive backs who back turn on a dime and return to whence they came.

In this crop of outstanding National draft talent, count me in with those qualifications on Laval receiver Kevin Mital who is well known for using his quickness to create elite separation in RSEQ play and Alberta defensive back Tyshon Blackburn, whose length should take him all of one step to accomplish covering any distance required by these tests.

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