With the 2013 CFL Draft set to take centre stage on Monday, May 6, there is an abundance of young talent anxiously waiting to hear their names announced on draft day.
For many of the young prospects, playing in the Canadian Football League has been a lifelong dream, and there is no better way to enter the league than through the draft process. While some prospects will be left disappointed, it will be a very surreal moment for those young individuals who have earned the opportunity to showcase their football skills in the CFL.
Teams all around the Canadian Football League are immersed in final preparations for one of the most significant events on the CFL calendar. As scouts and general managers look ahead to the long-term betterment of their franchise, yours truly, has compiled a list of prospects that project to be stars in the CFL for many years to come.
Linden Gaydosh (DL, Calgary)
Overshadowed by Elie Ngoyi’s incredible 40 repetitions of 225lbs, Linden Gaydosh recorded the second-most bench press reps (36) at the CFL Combine in Toronto. Gaydosh was very impressive in one-on-one drills at the combine as he displayed great pass-rushing ability against some of the premier offensive line prospects in the country. The 290-pound defensive lineman also showed tremendous explosiveness with his 33.50” vertical jump. Gaydosh is currently listed as the third-best prospect in the upcoming draft but with Matt Sewell and Stefan Charles current NFL situation, Gaydosh may find himself at the very top of the CFL Draft board. In 2012, Gaydosh was named a Canada West All-Star and anchored a Calgary run defence that allowed just 104 yards per game along the ground. Gaydosh has the ability to immediately plug in to any CFL defence and contribute at a high level.
Steven Lumbala (RB, Calgary)
Calgary Dinos running back, Steven Lumbala, has been revered as a tremendous CFL talent for a majority of his collegiate football career. At the CFL Combine in March, Lumbala recorded the third-best 40-yard dash (4.788) and vertical jump (33.50”) amongst fellow running backs. In the CFL Scouting Bureau’s September rankings, Lumbala was listed as the fifth-best prospect in the upcoming draft. However, since then, Lumbala has fallen outside of the top 15 rankings. In 2012, Lumbala was named a Canada West All-Star for the second consecutive year as he rushed for 636 yards on just 79 carries and led feature backs in the conference with an outstanding 8.1 yards-per-carry average.
Elie Ngoyi (DL, Bishop’s)
At the CFL Combine in Toronto, Ngoyi displayed incredible strength as he pumped out 40 repetitions of 225lbs, the second highest total in the history of the combine. The 23-year-old Sherbrooke, Quebec native posted four more reps than this year’s NFL Combine bench press leader. Ngoyi was named Bishop’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2012 and has seemingly boosted his draft value following his impressive showing at the combine. In the CFL Scouting Bureau’s September rankings, Ngoyi was listed as the 12th best prospect in the upcoming draft. However, despite his incredible display of strength at the combine in March, Ngoyi failed to qualify for the scouting bureau’s final top 15 rankings. Ngoyi’s brute strength and incredible physicality may be enough for a CFL team to take a gamble on the 270-pound defensive lineman.
Stefan Charles (DL, Regina)
Regina Rams defensive lineman Stefan Charles is currently ranked as the second-best prospect in the 2013 CFL Draft. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 310 pounds, Charles has all the physical tools to be a mainstay on a CFL defensive front for many years to come. Charles participated in the NFL Super Regional Combine and impressed many NFL scouts with his incredible explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Charles also visited the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts for private workouts. Although Charles was not selected in the NFL Draft this past weekend, he quickly landed an Unrestricted Free Agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. He is a marquee talent that possesses all the tangible tools to compete for an opportunity in the NFL. Equipped with a new contract, Charles likely drops into the second or third round of the CFL Draft as teams look to acquire his CFL rights.
Matt Sewell (OL, McMaster)
McMaster Marauders offensive lineman Matt Sewell is a physical specimen with all the tools to be a perennial All-Star. After being bypassed in the 2013 NFL Draft, Sewell inked an Unrestricted Free Agent deal with the Tennessee Titans. Towering at 6 feet 8 inches and 325 pounds, Sewell has the ability to compete with any defensive lineman in professional football. In the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings, he was ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the upcoming draft. In December, Sewell was ranked at No.2 but his dismal statistical performance at the CFL Combine lowered his ranking. Now carrying an NFL contract, Sewell’s position in the CFL Draft will certainly falter. Sewell was a high first round talent but may dip down as far as the third or fourth round.
Mike Edem (LB, Calgary)
University of Calgary linebacker Mike Edem is simply searching for an opportunity. The ambitious Brampton, Ontario native is willing to play for any team at any position. At the CFL Combine in Toronto, Edem put his versatility on display as he posted strong results in various drills. Edem’s 4.566 40-yard dash ranked fourth at the combine while his 9’11.50” broad jump and 38.50” vertical jump were tops amongst fellow linebackers. In the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings, Edem was listed as the tenth-best prospect in the draft and has rapidly moved up on many teams’ draft boards. In 2012 with the Dinos, Edem was named Canada West Defensive Player of The Year and anchored a Calgary defence that led the conference in every defensive category. Edem has experience at halfback and is a special team’s demon. It should not be very long before Mike Edem hears his name announced by CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon on draft day.
Ben D’Aguilar (DL, McMaster)
Ben D’Aguilar’s character shines brightly both on and off the football field. The outgoing, animated defensive lineman is currently ranked seventh on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s April rankings. After not being selected in the NFL Draft this past weekend, D’Aguilar has received open tryout invitations from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets. Many CFL scouts project D’Aguilar as a high first round talent and a young athletic individual that can quickly develop into an elite pass-rusher in the CFL. In 2012, D’Aguilar set the Canadian collegiate sack record with 12.5 sacks in eight regular season games. The Hamilton, Ontario native boasts the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.704) amongst fellow defensive line prospects and was a quarterback’s nightmare throughout his entire CIS career. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive lineman is the first-ever McMaster Marauder to win the J.P. Metras Trophy as the Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman in CIS.
Bo Lokombo (LB, Oregon)
Oregon Ducks linebacker Bo Lokombo is the top-ranked prospect in the 2013 CFL Draft, but will likely not be selected first overall. Lokombo is entering his senior year at Oregon and many college football experts expect him to be a top selection in next April’s NFL Draft. The Abbotsford, B.C. native has registered 108 total tackles and four sacks over the course of his three years at Oregon. Lokombo possesses all the skills to be a successful linebacker in the CFL and NFL. Despite the long-shot odds of having Lokombo suit up in a CFL game, teams might be willing to take a gamble on a very talented young individual with strong roots in Canada.
Nolan MacMillan (OL, Iowa)
Nolan MacMillan is a unique Canadian talent. At 6 feet 6 inches and 290 pounds, MacMillan can go toe-to-toe with any pass-rusher in professional football. Born and raised in Toronto, MacMillan transferred to a prep school in New Jersey for his senior year of high school. He has flashed plenty of potential when healthy for the Iowa Hawkeyes but his injury woes date back to his freshman year when he missed a majority of spring practices due to various injuries. In 2011, MacMillan did not see any action on the football field as he sat out the entire season recovering from a sports hernia. At 22, he is one of the most talented linemen in the 2013 draft class. Despite injury concerns, MacMillan’s exceptional skills make him a first round talent. It is simply a question of which team will be willing to take a chance on the young offensive lineman.
Jermaine Gabriel (DB, CJFL – Calgary Colts)
Jermaine Gabriel has had an eventful journey leading up to the 2013 CFL Draft. Gabriel earned his invitation to the CFL Combine in Toronto following an impressive showing at the CFL Regional Combine in Edmonton. The Toronto native followed up his Regional Combine performance by posting strong results at the league-wide combine. Gabriel ran a sensational 4.508 in the 40-yard dash, ranking second amongst participants at the combine. His 40.50” vertical jump ranked fourth while his 4.030 shuttle drill was tops amongst fellow defensive backs. Gabriel spent one season in the Canadian Junior Football League with the Calgary Colts where he was named Prairie Conference MVP and earned All-Canadian honours. Gabriel possesses tremendous athletic ability and may hear his name called in the latter half of the CFL Draft.
Kris Robertson (DB, Concordia)
Concordia Stingers defensive back Kris Robertson certainly made his presence felt at the 2013 CFL Combine. The Pickering, Ontario native turned heads as he posted awe-aspiring results in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump drills. Robertson led all participants at the combine with a 4.423 40-yard dash, 43.00” vertical jump, and a 10’5.50” broad jump. His journey began at the CFL Regional Combine in Quebec where he earned an invitation to the league-wide combine in Toronto. Robertson has garnered plenty of attention as a result of his sensational kick returning ability. In 2012, he returned 32 punts for 297 yards and added another 636 yards on kickoff returns. He also led the RSEQ in interceptions with four and earned second team All-Canadian honours. Robertson’s versatility and incredible athletic ability might entice a CFL team to roll the dice on a young man that has built the reputation of only being a kick return specialist.
Michael DiCroce (WR, McMaster)
Coming off a severe ankle injury that sidelined him for the entire 2012 CIS regular season, McMaster Marauders wide receiver Michael DiCroce is still attempting to regain the form that earned him recognition as one of the most dynamic collegiate wide receivers in all of Canada. At the CFL Combine in Toronto, DiCroce ran a magnificent 4.583 40-yard dash as he continues to re-cooperate from the ankle injury that ended his senior season. DiCroce’s electrifying speed makes him a threat to score every time he touches the football. At McMaster, DiCroce posted tremendous statistics playing alongside two-time HEC Creighton award winning quarterback, Kyle Quinlan. His experience within a complex pro-style offence at McMaster makes him a valuable weapon for many CFL teams. The maturation process will likely entail more in-game action rather than extensive mental preparation. In 2011, DiCroce was a finalist for the HEC Creighton trophy and has been very successful over the course of his collegiate career. DiCroce remains a valuable prospect that is certainly worth a third or fourth round selection.
The Laval receiving trio of Yannick Morin-Plante, Guillaume Rioux, and Seydou Junior Haidara turned heads following impressive showings at the CFL Combine in Toronto.
Seydou Junior Haidara
Haidara was widely regarded as one of the most athletic prospects in the 2013 draft class and at the CFL Combine he posted strong results in many drills. Haidara was particularly dominant in one-on-one situations and is being revered as a spectacular special teams player. In the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings, Haidara was listed as the 11th best prospect in the upcoming draft and should be a valued depth player on any CFL team.
Guillaume Rioux’s blazing speed makes him a very versatile offensive weapon. Rioux put his speed on full display at the CFL Combine in Toronto as he registered the best shuttle time (3.914) and the fourth-best 3-cone time (6.985). Rioux’s versatility as a receiver, kick returner, and special teams player may entice a CFL team to take a gamble on him in the latter part of the draft.
Yannick Morin-Plante has the necessary size and strength to be a successful wide receiver in the CFL. Towering at 6 feet 2 inches and 218 pounds, Plante is exceptionally quick for his size. At the CFL Combine, Plante recorded the fifth best 3-cone time (6.990) and the third-best 40-yard dash time (4.534).
The ability for each of these young men to play both offence and special teams provides them with an edge over fellow wide receivers. The Laval Rouge et Or have set the precedent of how to run a successful collegiate football program in Canada. Laval’s team-first mentality resonates as these young prospects look to achieve ultimate success in the CFL.
The CFL Scouting Bureau’s April rankings consist of seven defensive linemen, five offensive linemen, two linebackers, and one wide receiver.
The 2013 CFL Draft is set for Monday, May 6 at 12 p.m. EST with live television coverage of the event on TSN.