O’Leary: Dublanko, Mital ready to cross pro paths in the CFL

The time will come when Joel Dublanko and Kevin Mital cross paths on a CFL game day. The key details — where that’ll happen and the colour of the uniforms, for example — are still missing, but that day is in front of us.

When it arrives, the two star prospects from the CFL’s Draft class of 2024 have already gotten to work on the advance scouting.

“I only (practised) the first day” Dublanko, the sixth-ranked prospect in the CFL’s spring edition of the Scouting Bureau said of his experience at the CFL Combine presented by New Era.

“We did a little bit of stuff here and there. But I mean, the whole week I just saw Kevin making flashy plays…and kind of pissing me off to be honest. I’m on the (defensive) side and you know, we’re just getting bombs over Baghdad,” the linebacker said, bringing Outkast’s 2000 song and Mital’s highlight reel ability together.

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“It’s really fun to watch Kevin play. He’s a baller.”

Dublanko debuted in the Scouting Bureau’s final rankings, after his draft eligibility was certified earlier this year. The former Cincinnati Bearcat had 113 tackles, 5.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in his final season with the Bearcats in 2021 and was named to the All-AAC First Team. Since going unselected in the 2022 NFL Draft, Dublanko has spent time with the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and played with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL in 2023.

His resume resonated with the other prospects. Mital — who jumped all the way from 20 in the winter rankings up to No. 10 — confirmed that when he was asked about Dublanko’s showing in Winnipeg at the CFL Combine.

“I know he’s a playmaker. All the guys on defence were a little bit scared of him. We called him the NFL guy. So a lot of guys were scared to be around him,” Mital said, adding that Dublanko had eyes on him when he took part in the bench press and the 40-yard dash.

Both players have seen their respective draft stocks rise in the weeks since their showings in Winnipeg. Dublanko’s on-field work was limited due to a groin injury, but his 4.59-second 40-yard dash, 35-inch vertical and 4.27-second shuttle were all excellent for a linebacker.

Mital came into Winnipeg and answered questions both about the injuries that limited him in his final season at Laval and about off-field troubles from 2021. The big catches he made on the field spoke volumes about his hands. His 4.58-second 40 was the sixth-best time posted at the combine, providing some serious speed to go with his six-foot, 229-pound frame. And he faced every question about the bar fight that landed him in legal trouble, which was resolved last September with his guilty plea to a charge of assault that came with an unconditional discharge, preventing him from having a criminal record.


“All the teams had a lot of concern coming in to combine, either if I’m in shape with my injuries that I had, or my legal situation,” Mital said.

“I had to talk about about the legal situation with all the teams, make them comfortable about the legal stuff and prove to them that I still can play at the same level that I played in 2022.”

He showed what he could do on the field and was rewarded in the latest edition of the rankings. With the CFL Draft taking place on April 30, both he and Dublanko will soon find out where they’ll start their careers and when they’ll start to cross paths.

“He’s a dude,” Dublanko said of Mital, adding he was thrilled to learn he’d be doing a media call with him after the Scouting Bureau had been announced. “He definitely did his thing at the combine and stood out to me. I don’t necessarily notice many offensive guys just because I’m watching the defence. Normally when you notice somebody (as a defender), it’s not for a good reason.”

They’ll both work to get noticed the next time they share a field, too.

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