Numbers Game: Who will dominate the CFL Combine?

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

Of course, this edition comes with the twist of being completed virtually, but that won’t change how athletic and versatile many of the athletes invited to participate are.

The wait for numbers is already painstaking and the knowledge that those numbers are difficult to standardize in a strange virtual combine setup twists the knife a bit more. With all of that as the framework, 2021’s reality is that we will get numbers from performances to analyze and that in itself is worth celebrating to honour the preparation efforts of everyone involved.

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Numbers show you something, but not everything. We all know they are part of a player’s assessment and can tell part of the story, but to get the full picture evaluators will always go back to game film and understand the person behind the player.

With that said, let’s look ahead at who could send a message with their filmed performances in the coming days. It’s a process as exact as having a pint and playing darts blindfolded without the East-West Bowl Combine to rely on.

BENCH PRESS

Western Mustangs LB Myles Manalo & St. Mary’s OL Peter Kourtis

From watching him live and on game film, Mustangs LB Myles Manalo is always on balance and using his strong frame to make plays between the tackles. Whether or not he’s put in the work that usually leads to a big bench number remains to be seen, but he’s impressively built for in-game situations.

Similarly, Peter Kourtis is all of six-five and 300 pounds and consistently finishes blocks with arms extended. While the reach advantage of being six-foot-five helps in games, it does hurt in the combine testing. I’ll be interested to see where his strength measures up.

VERTICAL JUMP

Saskatchewan Huskies DB Nelson Lokombo

Twitchy, explosive, cut. Those are the three words I think of when it comes to Nelson Lokombo and usually three words that result in a big vertical jump. Lokombo doesn’t need a big combine to push his draft stock much farther North, but a jump or two out of the gym, paired with some elite speed and quickness times, will only cement what we know: he’s for real.

BROAD JUMP

Carleton Ravens DE/LB Shaiheem Charles Brown

Charles Brown has a natural burst and bend to his game off the edge that might not lead the way in broad jump, but put in context with his weight and position played, I believe he will yield a very respectable number that matches his play.

10-YARD DASH

Montreal Carabins Offensive Lineman Pierre-Olivier Lestage

OL Pierre-Olivier Lestage will be one to watch during the CFL Combine presented by New Era (James Hajjar/University of Montreal)

The 10-yard split is always more important than the 40-yard dash for lineman, and when I watch Montreal’s Pierre-Olivier Lestage get out of his stance on a toss play to his side or reach to the second level without a defensive lineman in front of him, I wonder how quick he’ll burst out of the starting blocks.

40-YARD DASH

Toronto Varsity Blues Receiver Will Corby

At this point we’ve all heard about Regina Rams RB Kyle Borsa running a 4.38. As a track guy, that doesn’t surprise me and while it will help his draft stock, I believe there is no player ready to jump up the board more with an exceptional combine than Will Corby.

With the majority of top end receiver prospects coming via the NCAA, Corby has a real opportunity over the next month to own his position and increase interest with a fast, straight-line time.

SHUTTLE

UBC Thunderbirds Linebacker Nick Cross

When I watch Nick Cross play football, I see quickness and lower body explosion. He won’t be the fastest shuttle time overall, but scouts will undoubtedly be interested in his movement skills to see whether the hard hitting – yet undersized – linebacker has coverage potential or converts quickly to a kick coverage specialist.

3-CONE

Carleton Ravens Linebacker Trevor Hoyte

Hoyte plays on his toes, has great closing speed and ability to react when shedding blockers and find the ball carrier. All of these suggest a solid 3-cone time as he puts on display a natural ability to twist and accelerate.

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