While scouts will always gather the most information on a player from game tape, scouting combines are a great opportunity for players to prove – or confirm – what may not have appeared on film.
A great interview that reassures the player’s love of the game and depth of knowledge could see him shoot up team’s rankings. A solid performance in competition drills that allows a player to display skill traits that his college scheme restricted him from showing could do the same thing for a player’s draft stock.
For example, a receiver who played in an Air-Raid college offense, often running posts and verticals, could entirely change the way scouts view him by excelling within a full route-tree in one-on-ones. Similarly, a receiver who faced off-coverage and mostly quarters defense in college due to his team’s scheme could improve his draft stock at the combine by getting clean releases off the line in combine one-on-ones against press coverage.
Be it in interviews, testing or one-on-ones, CFL teams will be searching for whatever they can find on players that they can’t find on tape. Every draft sees numerous players burst onto the scene with fantastic scouting combines that puts to bed any concerns coaches could have with their tape. Here’s five that could be the combine winners this year.
Joshua Stanford: WR, Kansas
Injuries can often derail a player’s draft stock, limiting the amount of film on the player and ultimately creating concerns with the player’s durability. Stanford is a great example of this, as numerous injuries have hampered his college career after a promising start as a freshman in 2013. With Virginia Tech, Stanford had 40 catches for 640 receiving yards and a TD, but took a 4-game leave to attend to off-field issues in his sophomore campaign and struggled to get back on the field after that.
Shortly after, Stanford transferred to Kansas, but the injury-bug followed him. He only appeared in two games last year, merely accumulating 3 catches for 38 yards. His freshman season, however, was good enough for the six-foot-one, 200-pounder to earn an invite to the national CFL combine.
He displayed great yards-after-catch ability as a freshman as an elusive runner that’s hard to bring down. He’s sound in creating space in zones and finding soft spots in coverages, as well as using change of speed to create leverage against the DB to run his route. But he has some flaws, such as a small catching radius, limited route running ability and release off the line-of-scrimmage. This is all based off his redshirt freshman campaign, however, exemplifying exactly how crucial this upcoming weekend is for Stanford to show that his hiatus from game action hasn’t stunted his growth as a football player.
Zachary Intzandt: RG, McMaster
Similarly to former Michigan State right guard James Bodanis, who the Montreal Alouettes selected in the third round last year, Intzandt has garnered CFL interest despite only playing one year on the offensive side of the football. His film, however, would not indicate that whatsoever.
Intzandt is a polished prospect considering his lack of experience. He’s an athletic dude with great size, technique and a solid burst out of his stance. He’s also an effective puller, polished pass-protector and a solid run-blocker – the total package. He’s not great at anything, but more importantly, Intzandt has no glaring weaknesses, and he can play in multiple different schemes (but zone-blocking would probably suit him most).
According to the intro in his highlight video, Intzandt should test very well. He apparently runs a 5.17 40-yard dash, a number that’d draw a lot of attention if he runs similarly on Saturday. The combine will be a great place for Intzandt to assure scouts that his little experience at right guard should not be too much of a red flag.
Terrell Davis: LB, UBC
Davis, a former running back for Arizona State, was converted to linebacker prior to 2015, his first season at UBC. It turned out to be a great move by the Thunder Bird coaching staff, as Davis turned out to be everything they’d hoped to be – an athletic, sideline-to-sideline linebacker that excels in coverage and gets to the quarterback quickly on blitzes. Davis, who has the size to be a CFL linebacker at 6-foot, 220-pounds, would be a great fit for the Blue Bombers’ scheme.
Given his athleticism as a former running back, Davis is going to have a great combine. The competitive drills – one-on-ones against RBs in routes/coverage and blocking/blitzing – are made especially for players like Davis to shine.
Josiah St. John: RT, Oklahoma
Canadian offensive tackles are hard to find, but extremely valuable. St. John, who made four starts in 2015, could see his draft-stock sky-rocket if he excels in one-on-ones as a tackle. At 6-foot-6, 308-pounds, St. John is built like a right tackle, pending his wingspan measurements. He’s a better run-blocker than pass-blocker – St. John struggled with his 3-step in college – so he doesn’t project as a blind-side protector. Scouts will likely hope to see St. John show a mean streak, as well as use his leverage more to his advantage against certain rushers. St. John could still be a top-5 pick as a guard, but a solid workout at right tackle would push him into the conversation for the no. 1 and no. 2 overall selections.
George Johnson: WR, Western
Johnson’s expected to test well in the 40-yard dash and in one-on-ones, but a solid shuttle drill time could really see his draft stock improve. Johnson already has great explosion, control and agility, and if just break on his routes a little faster – he already has the explosion out of his break and the route-running knowledge – Johnson could be viewed as a top-3 receiver in the draft.