The next generation of CFL players had the chance to strut their stuff and solidify their potential draft status at the National Combine presented by Adidas in Winnipeg this past weekend.
It’s incredibly difficult to drop after the Combine (unless a player completely bombs on their testing or a team sours on their character after the interview) or to rise too far in the ranks unless the numbers are all-world.
Here are some notes:
- UBC right tackle Dakoda Shepley may have had the best weekend in Winnipeg. His numbers were the best among all offensive linemen invited to the Combine and were above average for the tackles in the recent NFL Combine.
Bench: 27 reps (NFL avg. 22)
40: 5.27 sec (NFL avg.5.24)
Vertical: 31” (NFL avg. 26.25”)
20-yard shuttle: 4.72 sec (NFL avg. 4.83)
3-cone: 8.01 sec (NFL avg. 7.84)
Shepley is currently 11th in the CFL Scouting Bureau rankings and is sure to rise in the coming weeks leading to the CFL Draft. He may be the top ranked Canadian trained offensive lineman.
- The times for the 40 were incredibly pedestrian. Many pointed to the temporary turf at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. The numbers seem to back this up as well. Dakoda Shepley took part in the Eastern Michigan pro day and ran the 40 in 5.05 sec (Number courtesy of Justin Dunk at 3Down Nation) and in Winnipeg he was more than .20 sec slower.
Here are four other examples:
Marco Dubois (Laval) – Eastern Combine 4.56/Winnipeg 4.62
Justin Howell (Carleton) – Eastern Combine 4.58/Winnipeg 4.69
Paul Kozachuk (Toronto) – Toronto Combine 4.71/Winnipeg 4.81
Justin Buren (Simon Fraser) – Western Combine 4.73/Winnipeg 4.79
So, when looking at the times in Winnipeg, take it with a heavy grain of salt, it was just a slow track.
- No 10 or 20-yard numbers provided by the CFL. Those are key to see how quick the interior players are off the ball or how fast the running backs can hit the hole.
- Kudos to the CFL and their coverage of the Combine. In a two-day format, it’s tough to do. The NFL has each position out for testing and drills on an individual basis. At the CFL combine, there were multiple units on the field at the same time. The crew did a good job spotlighting some of the players and trying to give some insight amid the chaos.
Trey Rutherford and Ryan Hunter had their pro days this past week. Numbers were tough to come by from Connecticut’s pro day, so it will be tough to compare Rutherford to his contemporaries. Hunter on the other hand, had a solid day at Bowling Green’s pro day: 25 reps on the bench press and a 5.28 sec time in the 40.
There were many nuggets of news trickling out of CFL week in Winnipeg, one of the biggest headline grabbers was Calgary’s potential bid for the 2019 Grey Cup. If successful, this would make it back-to-back Alberta Grey Cups with Edmonton hosting this November. However Commissioner Randy Ambrosie pumped the brakes on the 2019 Grey Cup-to-Calgary talk.
"The process for selecting our Grey Cups has to be done thoughtfully and thoroughly," Ambrosie said on the weekend. "And until we have all of the details attended to, I'm not in a position to confirm or deny anything. We're not ready to make a decision - we don't have a decision made on 2019 - but we're working towards one. I think it's within in the next 2-3 weeks."
If I were to place a wager on it, my bet would be that the next two Grey Cups would be Hamilton in 2020 (the first at Tim Horton’s Field) and Saskatchewan in 2021 (the first at Mosaic Stadium). This will give both organizations enough time to work out the kinks in their new stadiums. For Saskatchewan, it also gives them some rest after a string of huge events (2011 Centennial Year, 2013 Grey Cup, 2016 Farewell Season at the old facility and 2017’s opening of the new stadium).
Many are saying that it will work because of the names involved like former NFL players Jared Allen and Justin Tuck. Also, the rule tweaks are intriguing: eliminating kick-offs and the three-point stance for linemen.
This announcement came on the heels of WWE CEO, Vince McMahon announcing that the XFL will return in 2020.
There has been a flurry of spring leagues that have come and gone and have failed for a myriad of reasons. The USFL failed because of greed and moving to a fall schedule, XFL tanked because McMahon wanted a circus on TV, United Football League (2009-2012) gambled that the NFL and the NFLPA wouldn’t come to an agreement while the PSFL (1992) and Major League Football (2016) never got off the ground.
What will make the difference in the AAF and XFL2 to change the tides of failed spring leagues? Tom Lugenbill, ESPN’s head of College Football Recruiting Service is a former coach and was a part of the Los Angeles Extreme staff as a quarterback coach in the XFL’s only season in 2001.
He told “The Audible” podcast with Stuart Mandell and Bruce Feldman that the XFL would have been successful if it wasn’t for Vince McMahon wanting to make everything over the top and a mess off the field.
Here are the reasons why:
- More than enough players.
- Small manageable rosters.
- No individual incentives. All players were paid the same and only received more money for wins.
- Training camps with other teams.
- Coaches and front office staff said it was the best job they had.
If the financials are manageable, the coaching is solid and quality front office staff and enough time to develop during training camp, one of these leagues could have a chance to succeed.
The AAF will have a step up by starting a season earlier and the backing of CBS as a broadcaster but never underestimate the stubbornness of Vince McMahon.
What would this mean for the CFL? Some of the second-tier American players will have second thoughts on coming to Canada. Between high Canadian taxes and a horrible exchange rate along with playing closer to home -- just a couple of reasons why a player would choose to stay away from the CFL.