March 19, 2024

6 to watch at the CFL Combine presented by New Era

Cameron Bartlett/

The CFL Combine presented by New Era is right around the corner.

It’s almost time for prospects to lay it all on the field in front of evaluators in hopes of catching the attention of a team or two ahead of the CFL Draft on April 30.

While every participant invited to the CFL Combine is full of talent and worthy of being added to a ones to watch list, I wanted to highlight a handful of prospects to keep an eye on this week.

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Dhel Duncan-Busby | Receiver | Bemidji State

Photo: Bemidji State Athletics

Dhel Duncan-Busby is the second-highest receiver ranked on the winter edition of the CFL’s Scouting Bureau Rankings at 13 (Auburn’s Nick Mardner is just two spots ahead but will not be attending the Combine).

In 2023, he hauled in 49 passes for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns, including a season-high 75-yard reception. The six-foot-three, 210-pound pass-catcher will be one to watch in the one-on-one portion of the CFL Combine this week as he takes reps against the top defensive backs.

Daniel Okpoko | Defensive Lineman | San Diego State

Photo: San Diego State Athletics

Daniel Okopoko went from unranked to 15th on the winter edition of the CFL’s Scouting Bureau Rankings this past January and he’ll look to keep climbing in the spring edition with a good outing at the CFL Combine this week.

Okopoko suited up in 37 games over five seasons at San Diego State and last year, he started in all 12 of the Aztecs’ games and had 23 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks along with three pass breakups. He’s a big body, at six-foot-five, 275-pounds, and will look to use that frame to his advantage this week.

Tyson Hergott | Defensive Lineman | Waterloo

Photo: Waterloo Athletics

If you’re looking for a defensive lineman to keep an eye on, perhaps turn your attention to Waterloo’s Tyson Hergott. Hergott was the most dominant defender in the OUA, taking home the 2023’s J.P. Metras Award as the OUA’s Lineman of the Year.

In eight games last year, the six-foot-three, 259-pounder tallied 30 solo tackles, 11 sacks, and led U SPORTS with 14 tackles for a loss. He also forced three fumbles, all of which were on strip sacks, and tallied one interception. Along with his award, Hergott was named a U SPORTS First-Team All-Canadian and OUA First-Team All-Star.

Bradley Hladik | Tight End/Fullback | UBC

Photo: UBC Athletics

Bradley Hladik is the brother of current BC Lions linebacker Ben and while he plays on the other side of the ball as a tight end/fullback, there’s no doubt that he’s learned many skills, including how to be a pro, from his brother over the years.

Hladik scored his first touchdown of his U SPORTS career in 2023 with the UBC Thunderbirds to go along with 31 yards on three catches. Sure, his regular season stats weren’t overly eye-popping, but 22 reps on the bench press at the 2023 East-West bowl is intriguing to see if the six-foot-four, 235-pounder can improve on that number this Thursday.

Jackson Sombach | Defensive Back | Regina

Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/

Jackson Sombach earned a ticket to the CFL Combine from the Invitational Combine a few weeks ago and he could be a dark horse to make a splash after showing impressive testing numbers in Waterloo. Sombach had the day’s best vertical jump (36″), 40-yard dash (4.58), and 3-cone (6.97). The Regina Rams’ 9′ 11 7/8″ broad jump was fifth-best as was his shuttle time (4.27).

So he can test well, but what about when he straps on the pads to go head-to-head with some of the country’s top receivers? We’ll see this week if the five-foot-nine, 195-pound defensive back can improve his stock even more when he hits the field at Winnipeg Soccer Federation North.

Canadian QBs

Photo: Augustana University

There are a trio of Canadian quarterbacks participating in this year’s CFL Combine and if you love pivots who hold a National passport, it’ll be worthwhile to keep an eye on all three; Ben Maracle, Jack Zergoitis, and Casey Bauman.

You won’t miss Bauman; he’s six-foot-seven and 225-pounds after all. He tallied 2,878 passing yards and 29 touchdowns in 13 games last season at Augustana University while also calling his own number 99 times for 322 yards and five majors on the ground.

Zergoitis didn’t play in 2023 (he joined UBC but an eligibility issue kept him on the sidelines). In 2022, the six-foot-two pivot threw for 667 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception in five games with the Merrimack Warriors.

Maracle played three seasons (2019, 2021, 2022) for the Ottawa Gee-Gees and threw for a career-best 1,411 yards in seven games in 2022 to go along with a career-high nine passing touchdowns that season. Maracle also participated in 2023’s CFL Combine as an underclassman.

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