With Free Agency in the books and June getting closer, it’s officially draft season in the CFL. The CFL combine begins this weekend, and with numerous top prospects choosing to skip the event, I’ve decided to gather and inform what I can on those prospects. Today’s draft eligible player is DB Arjen Colquhoun, from Michigan State. Special thanks to Chris Zorbas, a contributor to Michigan sports website http://www.isportsweb.com, for a lot of information.
Name: Arjen Colquhoun
Position: Defensive Back
School: Michigan State
Already well-versed as the top defensive back available in the draft, all that’s left to prove for Michigan State CB Arjen Colquhoun, a native of Windsor, ON., is whether or not he’s the top defensive player overall.
Entering his senior season in 2015, it took several dominoes to fall into place for Colquhoun to get his shot as a starter in the Spartans’ aggressive, physical defense. With the loss of CB Trae Waynes to the NFL, Colquhoun entered the season as the third cornerback on the depth chart. But after Michigan State’s top corner went down with mono, and the second with a broken vertabrae, the 6-foot-one, 202-pounder was promoted to boundary cornerback and excelled, never relinquishing his role as the primary corner for one of the best schools in the nation at producing defensive backs.
Colquhoun, who won’t be attending the upcoming CFL combine, will be an enticing prospect for several teams with a seemingly high ceiling after showing such promise in his first year starting, albeit as a senior. At six-foot-one, 202-pounds, Colquhoun has ideal size to play numerous positions in the CFL and has been developed by a nationally-renown defensive coordinator, Harlon Barnett, who’s produced two first round NFL draft picks in consecutive years in Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes.
I view Colquhoun’s lack of experience as a starter as a positive. He has untapped potential and given his constant improvement, he absolutely projects as a future CFL starter in the CFL – and I’m not just referencing as a field-side cornerback. Going from Canada directly to Michigan State, Colquhoun was evidently a late bloomer. But he really did come into his own, and it’s very, very evident later on in the season that Colquhoun was the most dependable part of an erratic, inexperienced Spartan secondary.
Against top competition such as Alabama and Michigan, Culquhoun wasn’t picked on by any means whatsoever. All was quiet on the boundary, with offenses targeting Michigan State’s poor safeties and nickel corners.
Playing the most difficult position in the secondary, Colquhoun recorded 45 tackles, 10 breakups (team-high), 12 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions – no lack of productivity, evidently. He started 11 games and continually improved as the season went on.
Although the Spartans are known for a stingy, physical defense with aggressive corners, against teams with elite speed like Alabama, Colquhoun tended to give deep-threat receivers far more of a cushion than usual. But that also says a lot about Head Coach Mark Dantonio’s confidence in the players around Colquhoun more than anything. Michigan State had two starting freshman at free and strong safety, as well as a converted safety at the no. 2 cornerback position opposite Colquhoun. He still has shown great capabilities as a press-corner, however, and the comfort in either situation, courtesy of great coaching, bodes well for his success in the CFL.
Colquhoun has fluid change of direction skills and sinks his hips low in his back-pedal. Coming from a system with so many different coverage looks, he’s developed excellent vision and spatial awareness. He anticipates routes well and, thanks to his sound technique, can read and react quick enough to not put himself in a position to have to take a pass interference or defensive holding penalty to stay in good position. This is huge for playing in the Canadian Football League, where contact on a receiver after five yards is prohibited. Colquhoun already plays a very clean game as a cornerback despite the constant press-coverage, which will translate very well to CFL. The importance of this cannot be understated.
Still a Michigan State corner, Colquhoun, as expected, is an excellent tackler and isn’t afraid to play near the box. He’s an effective run-stopper, taking on both running backs and tight ends despite the difference in size. He takes great pursuit angles and is quick to recognize and react to run plays. He’s far from a big hitter, but he’s not going to back down from any challenge.
Physical traits and athleticism:
Colquhoun reportedly ran a 4.40 40-yard dash when he first arrived at Michigan State in front of Dantonio, but that doesn’t mean he plays like a 4.40 defensive back. Against higher competition, such as Alabama, Colquhoun brought up a lot of question marks regarding his speed and ability to cover fast receivers downfield. He also has suspect hands, even as a defensive back, and didn’t win on a lot of 50/50 balls. On film, he’s never blown anyone away with explosion, quickness or jumping ability, but if he was playing against CIS competition, that likely wouldn’t be the case. At Michigan State, Colquhoun is obviously being held to high, NFL draft standards, even by myself. It’s why his level of competition already gives him an advantage over other defensive backs available in the CFL draft.
There are no red-flags for the fifth-year senior when it comes to special-teams, as Colquhoun spent four seasons as strictly a special-teams player. He’d unquestionably make a fantastic gunner and cornerback on punt and punt return teams with his size, speed and tackling ability. At the very, very least, Colquhoun will be a great special-teams player up north for years to come.
CFL.ca’s Justin Dunk, who released a mock draft of his own this week, has the Alouettes drafting Colquhoun at second overall. While I disagree with Justin thus far on some of his picks, I’ll admit that his belief in Colquhoun encouraged me to follow up with more research. After discovering – and re-watching – several Michigan State games that are posted on Youtube since my mock draft 1.0 was released, it’s very clear that Colquhoun is a top-3 selection. He’s undoubtedly a top-5 pick, and I’m sure the Riders, who desperately need Canadian defensive backs – will take a good, hard look at Colquhoun as the number one overall pick. The only reason he could fall out of the top-3 is because Canadian offensive and defensive lineman are much more valuable.
Versatility is highly sought after in the draft, and given his size, tackling ability and the scheme he comes from, Colquhoun could likely play strong-side linebacker in the CFL, too. He’s already potentially the best defensive player in the draft – it’s Colquhoun or Boston College DT Mehdi Abdesmad – and the ability to play multiple positions is simply a bonus.