The CFL’s Evaluation Camp was held over the weekend. Some of the top prospects had the chance to impress the scouts in advance of the CFL Draft on May 2nd. Personally I was surprised that Rider coaches even attended the event. I mean when you add Taman’s habits of trading away any and all first round picks with the Riders’ habit of drafting only players that play their home games within walking distance of the coaches’ offices (presumably so Coach Miller can sneak in a nap in his office and still make it to the game with relative ease) you would conclude that our attendance isn’t really necessary.
This year though, it appears as though Taman and the Riders will be trying something new… keeping our draft picks and drafting players from an area code that isn’t 306. Which is great news because there are some very talented prospects available in this draft.
Many of those prospects were put to the test over the weekend (though 5 of the projected top 15 prospects did not attend due to having a year of NCAA eligibility left) in front of coaches and scouts from across the league.
Here are a few players that had notable performances…
- RB Mike Montoya turned some heads when he broke an E-Camp record with 44 reps on the bench press (shattering the old record of 33). He then followed up by posting a 4.60 time in the 40 yards dash (which is impressive for 236 lbs guy). His combination of size, power and speed make him an ideal fullback prospect.
- WR Steve Turner also turned some heads by breaking the E-Camp record in the 40 yard dash with a time of 4.31 (old record was 4.39 set by Jamal Lee). He followed that up with the fastest shuttle time of the day at 4.03 and an impressive 43.5 inch vertical. At 5’09 he’s only an inch taller than Weston Dressler (making him one of the smallest WR prospects) but he’s shown he has the physical abilities to overcome his small stature. He’s not as polished a receiver as some of the others but his stock definitely rose over the weekend.
- Other WRs turn in good performances were Shawn Gore, who many are saying established himself as the top receiver available; Jordan Sisco who continues to shown that he has the talent to compete at the next level; and Cory Watson.
- A guy I was closely watching was LB Cory Greenwood (the top rated LB in the upcoming draft). He turned in performance indicative of his high raking with 24 reps in the bench press, a 4.50 40 yard dash and a 40 inch vertical. When you add his impressive physical abilities to his CIS Defensive Player of the Year status, it adds up to one heck of a defensive prospect.
- Another LB I was watching closely was Shomari Williams. He is just behind Greenwood as in the LB rankings (though most of his time has been spent at defensive end of late). He’s not quite at Greenwood’s level yet but he’s physically gifted and has been improving by leaps and bounds. He also had a good showing at E-Camp and solidified his spot among the top prospects.
- LB Joash Gesse raised his draft stock with a solid weekend highlighted by 33 reps in the bench press. Maybe his draft ranking would be higher if he knew how to spell Josh.
- Along the D-line, Eddie Steel had a strong showing including 33 reps in the bench press. He’s still the #2 ranked defensive tackle in the draft behind Brian Bulcke but while Bulcke will return to college next year Steele won’t, meaning he can have an immediate impact on a team that drafts him. At defensive end the most intriguing prospect is Chima Ihekwoaba (say that 3 times fast). He’s being called the Canadian version of Cam Wake (which is quite the endorsement). He has a 41 inch vertical, did the 40 in 4.78 and the shuttle in 4.24. He’s got the tools, the question is whether he can translate that in Wake-like production or whether he will struggle against the bigger stronger tackles at the pro-level.
- In the secondary, one guy stands ahead of all the others. Taurean Allen is by far the best DB available. He’s fast (4.44 in the 40 and 4.04 in the shuttle) and combines that with good coverage skills. He will go top 10.
- And of course the most highly watched position is O-line. With 4 of the top 5 OL prospects (John Bender, Danny Watkins, Nasser Jamal and J’Michael Deane) all having 1 year of college left, it was a chance for the OL that are available immediately to boost their stock. Joe Eppele was the consensus #1 pick coming into the weekend. He faired well in the physical tests but struggled in 1 on 1 drills meaning that his status as #1 is now in question. Kristian Matte, Joel Reinders and Bart Archdekin improved their stock among the OL that will be available immediately to play.
Overall this is a stronger draft class than last draft but it seems to be very top heavy. With that in mind, I fully expect the Riders to cut a deal in the near future to get a 2nd or 3rd round pick to add to their 2 firsts and 2 fifths. I can’t believe I’m actually expecting Taman to acquire draft picks.
I have been saying for months now that the Riders will use one of their first rounders on a linebacker… either Cory Greenwood or Shomari Williams and I am leaning towards Greenwood. They will use the other on a top rated player who won’t be available to play until next year… either Brian Bulcke the top DT available or Danny Watkins the top OT available. I would like to see them draft Bulcke as elite Canadian D-linemen are few and far between but Watkins would be an okay pick as well as non-import tackles are a precious commodity too. We have no immediate needs in terms of Canadians so now would be the perfect time to use a first round pick on a future prospect.
I will have more draft coverage and analysis in the weeks leading up to the big day on May 2nd. That includes my 3rd Annual Live Draft Day Blogging. If you haven’t yet experience my live blogging, you are really missing out. Few experiences can compare to the uncensored, unedited early morning commentary of the Prophet… who neither a morning person nor someone who types well without the assistance of spell checker.