Le ROUGE et NOIR se rendent au LCF Combine pour un dernier examen des meilleurs espoirs de la LCF en anglais
The CFL Combine has arrived, marking another important milestone in the offseason. Top prospects eligible to be taken on May 2nd have converged on Edmonton, where they will participate in a flurry of activities, including on field assessments, and classroom learning.
The Ottawa REDBLACKS, who own the first overall pick in the draft, and the most selections of any team, have their eyes locked on the event, as they look to fill in the blanks. Over the course of six days, General Manager Shawn Burke, Head Coach Bob Dyce, and the rest of the front office will have a chance to meet potential future players, while getting close insight on who they are.
This year’s combine includes various on-field tests that fans have become famaiar with, including the 40-yard dash, and the bench press, but will also feature many aspects not so familiar. There will be one-on-one sessions, and three practice hours, where players learn from CFL coaches. In particular, the offensive line will be led by REDBLACKS’ coach, Paul Charbonneau.
With Charbonneau being right in the line of fire, he’ll have a front row seat at a position that Burke describes as one of the most prominent every draft.
“Coach Charbs being able to work with those players directly gives us a vantage point in the way that he’s already building a relationship with them, and getting to know them better,” Burke said. “That works for pluses and minuses.”
Those sessions, although important, at times come with inflated importance when scrutinized by the media ahead of the draft. People can get caught up in a fast 40-yard dash time, or a crazy vertical jump, but in reality, those numbers in isolation aren’t the end-all be-all.
Instead, Burke maintains that it’s nothing more than a part of the process. It’s all about seeing who has improved, or even who has gone the other direction.
“You see the progress they have made, and that shows you the commitment in the training room, and you get to see how their film translates to their participation in the events,” Burke said. “But most of all, you get to see how they compete. You get to see if a guy will push through being tired, and how they react in those situations on the big stage.”
By and large, the scouting has already been done, and the scouts know just about every intangible of the more than 60 players at the combine. Burke and his staff are looking to “verify” what the players have already put on film, not make drastic decisions.
Taking the lead on the scouting has been Chad Hudson, the REDBLACKS’ Director of Canadian Scouting. Burke hurled praise in Hudson’s direction ahead of the draft, noting that he was more than deserving of his tag when he was hired, and ran a great operation throughout the season.
Hudson’s preparedness has put the club in a position to draft a player with the potential to make an impact on the team for years to come.
“He [has his job] for a reason, he gets us so prepared beforehand with everything he does,” he said. “With visiting U SPORTS and NCAA schools, we know these prospects well, we’re not playing catchup.”
Holding the first-overall pick in the draft, Burke says there’s no added pressure, especially not with how they have gone about preparing.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he explained. “When you have a process that you believe in, it means you’re prepared. I always strive to have the organization prepared for everything, from training camp, to a road trip. We have been preparing for this.”
As for the expectations of whoever is made the first player taken, Burke is taking a long-term perspective.
“I don’t expect anyone to start in year one,” he said. “If they do, it’s a bonus, but it’s a big jump to come to our league.”
The CFL Combine takes place on Wednesday in Edmonton, and wraps up on March 26th.