OUA prospects shine at the 2017 CFL Combine presented by adidas

(Photo: Matt Smith / CFL.ca)
(Photo: Matt Smith / CFL.ca)

By CFL.ca Staff

REGINA — The one-on-ones had everyone's attention on Saturday but any time No. 83 lined up against No. 23, the spotlight got a little brighter.

While 50 of the country's top amateur football prospects wrapped up the CFL Combine presented by adidas, the story at Regina's Evraz Place was Danny Vandervoort and Dondre Wright.

For CFL.ca's Marshall Ferguson, who won the rep never really mattered.

"There's one rep that they had against each other where Danny went deep against Dondre where I came out of it thinking — even though Danny caught the ball and went 50 yards — that they both look like CFL players," said Ferguson. "It's kind of counter-intuitive to see a defensive back get beat for a 50-yard gain but even in loosing a rep, Dondre Wright just looks the part.

"To see those two guys go head to head just looked like something you can enjoy for years to come."

The second and final day of testing at the CFL Combine started with the 40-yard dash, the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle. Then, players broke into their position groups to run drills and, finally, one-on-ones.

The latter put individuals in the spotlight in heated head-to-head competition.

Commencing the event were the offensive and defensive linemen, who showed not just their skill-set but their strength, intensity and determination. Laurier defensive end Kwaku Boateng came out of the afternoon feeling pretty good about his performance as a pass-rusher.

"I think I did a good job," said Boateng. "I pressured the quarterback and I would say won 90 per cent of my reps today. I think overall it was a good day."

Ferguson said that Boateng offers intrigue as a pure edge rusher and could find himself in a rotation spot early in his career based on his height — but his lower body explosion is special.

But Boateng wasn't the only defensive lineman complementing a massive frame with big-time future upside.

"I saw flashes of what I think Kay Okafor will become in a couple of years," said Ferguson. "His height, weight and testing numbers are crazy but he's been playing football for five years. His ability as an athlete is of the highest quality but there's a lot of room for improvement in being a pass-rusher.

"But I have confidence that with the right team he will find out how good he will be as a pure pass rusher."

On the other hand, offensive lineman Mason Woods, tabbed by some as a potential first overall pick at the CFL Draft on May 7, may not have helped himself.

"Mason Woods struggled a bit but I don't think that's necessarily a damning indictment on him," said Ferguson. "I just think he got out-leveraged by guys that are really, really strong and play lower to the ground than he does."

Guelph running back Johnny Augustine stood out the most in the linebackers and running backs group. Augustine later ran again as a receiver — and didn't look out of place.

"I was surprised by how smooth his route running was," said Ferguson.

And in the end, that was the most entertaining part of the combine — the best saved for last. The top receivers in the combine against the top defensive backs in the combine was can't-miss TV.

Vandervoort and Wright are highly-touted prospects and both showed well on Saturday. Both had to show their versatility by playing different positions but made it work with their athleticism.

"It's nice that they let us switch up and play receiver and slot just to show that you're versatile," said Vandervoort. "I think I showed scouts that I can play both if need be.

"I think I impressed scouts with my catching ability and the fact that I'm able to play both positions."

Wright, meanwhile, spoke to the chance to face Vandervoort as a wideout: "You don't really prepare for it. You can try to mimic it but it's always different in a real live one-on-one situation — but film study definitely helps.

"I watched some film on Danny and some other guys like (Mitchell) Picton. I know they're not that good at releases so I just try to be very patient."

While Ferguson says he feels Vandervoort has emerged as the draft's top receiver heading towards May, calling him and Carleton's Nate Behar '1-A and 1-B', Wright felt he helped himself as well.

"A lot of people that know me, they think my hands are kind of suspect but I caught a pick and I think I did really well."

Source: CFL.ca


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