TORONTO – In some cases, the CFL off-season can be just as eventful as in-game, regular season action. As apparent in recent years, the Canadian Football League free agency period can alter the landscape of a franchise with the addition of star players or the departure of key figures. Free agency provides CFL fans with renewed hope and optimism for the upcoming season.
However, free agency is not the only event on the CFL calendar that can significantly alter the state of a franchise. The CFL Evaluation Camp is the first official football activity of the season as the best University and College players from all around the country gather in an attempt to impress CFL coaches, scouts, and general managers. It is the first time since the final whistle of the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre that physical football activities will take place.
Scouts will assemble on the grounds of the legendary Varsity Stadium, home of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, to evaluate prospects as they attempt to formulate their personalized draft rankings.
This is the first opportunity for teams to gauge the talents and abilities of the prospects on their radar. The draft eligible players will complete a variety of drills that will put their strength, athleticism, speed, agility, and football knowledge on display.
It is evident, based on prior combines, that these drills have the ability to raise a player’s draft value or lower it. The Bench Press provides scouts with a brief look at the power and toughness of the prospects. The vertical and broad jump drills place emphasis on athleticism, which is certainly an asset in order to be an every-down player in the Canadian Football League. The 40-yard dash is one of the most anticipated drills at the combine as it provides scouts with a firm sense of an individual’s speed and explosiveness on the football field.
In 2012, DL Jabar Westerman saw his draft stock soar following an impressive performance at E-Camp and as a result, earned the second overall selection from the B.C. Lions.
General Managers, coaches, and scouts canvas the stadium grounds interviewing prospects, attempting to learn more about each athlete prior to the CFL draft.
While the off-season does not account for wins and losses, it is a time where the end result begins to take its course. In essence, the CFL off-season is just as significant as the regular season. In order to experience success in the Canadian Football League, it requires a year-round commitment.
The Canadian Football League Evaluation Camp is the foundation of future CFL stars. Teams that place great emphasis on the event deem the rewards. It has become very common to see CFL rookies having an immediate impact on the success of their team.
In 2012, Shamawd Chambers was selected sixth overall by the Edmonton Eskimos and was an immediate contributor as he recorded 37 receptions, 390 yards, and two touchdowns in sixteen regular season games en route to a playoff appearance.
The 2013 CFL Evaluation Camp also marks the official return of the Ottawa football franchise. For the first time since 2005, there will be nine teams participating in the Canadian Football League draft.
While the regular season does not officially kickoff for another four months, the CFL combine indicates the beginning of the long and tiresome journey to the 101 Grey Cup in Regina.
It is safe to say that the CFL Evaluation Camp forms the foundation of the long-term future of the Canadian Football League but also produces talent that can have an instant impact on the state of any CFL franchise.
The ambition and desire to be a champion begins at the CFL Combine – signifying the true beginning of the Canadian football season.