Forde: Observations from Day Two at CFL's E-Camp

Duane Forde
3/7/2011 10:09:08 AM
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TSN analyst Duane Forde shares his observations from Day Two of the CFL's E-Camp:

I'm always amused when people do things a certain way for no real reason except that it's the way they've always done it. The events used in football testing provide a classic example of this.

Seriously, who cares how fast an offensive lineman can sprint forty yards in a straight line? Are you really going to adjust an O-Lineman's ranking on your draft board based on his ability to run down DBs after interceptions or his capacity to get downfield to cover missed field goals? As my friend and former Tiger-Cat athletic therapist Chris Puskas remarked, "If an O-Lineman is sprinting forty yards, then clearly something bad has happened."

Everyone knew long ago that Michael Knill (Wilfrid Laurier) would break the E-Camp bench press record. What the scouts wanted to see firsthand was how well he could actually play football. Well, they'll have to rely on his game film to find out. Knill aggravated an old hamstring injury while running his forty and was unable to participate in the football specific drills. It just provides more support for the argument against having O-Linemen perform a test that's irrelevant to their job.

DT Maurice Forbes (Concordia) was one of the players who boosted his stock last weekend. He was dominant early in the 1-on-1 period but seemed to fatigue a bit as the period wore on. Nonetheless, his skill and power were apparent and any conditioning issues can be easily addressed.

DL Zander Robinson (Western Ontario) was virtually unstoppable in the live pass rush drills. That period definitely helped his cause.

OL Scott Mitchell (Rice) did nothing to hurt his status as the leading candidate to go first overall. The Ottawa native was solid in 1-on-1's and also impressed by showing a willingness to take reps at all five offensive line positions.

Henoc Muamba (St. Francis Xavier) is the consensus top linebacker preospect. He's a phenomenal athlete, impressive physical specimen, and a terrific young man. The one reservation that some teams have about him relates to his agent, Jonathan Hardeway. Hardeway is the U.S.-based agent who took last year's #3 overall pick, LB Cory Greenwood to the NFL and the assumption is that he'll try to do the same with Muamba.

Both of the kickers in attendance, Hugh O'Neill (Alberta) and Chris Milo (Laval) were very good, showing accuracy and range on their field goals and crushing some punts as well. I believe you'll see both of these guys earn full-time CFL employment in 2011.

Centre Alex Krausnick-Groh (Calgary) impressed with his long snaps and did a decent job pass blocking as well.

I had a great discussion with some front office people about the non-import ratio and how to improve it. I owe the readers a full article about this topic and it's coming in a few weeks.

Running back Matt Walter (Calgary) caught a few scouts off guard with his speed. Matt is another of the real high character kids in this draft class - hard working and humble.

RB Kyle Exume (Bishop's) is an interesting prospect. He was never a starter in college but earned his way to E-Camp with good testing numbers and killer special teams play. He did a decent job in the pass protection 1-on-1s as well.

I didn't like the way the LB vs. RB pass rush drill was set up. At the best of times, pass rush 1-on-1s are an exercise that favours the defensive player and the way the drill was set up on Sunday put the RBs at even more of a disadvantage. Two problems: 1) the RBs never got a chance to set their feet before the LBs were coming upfield; 2) the snap count was always the same, allowing the defenders to time their takeoff.

There must be something in the water in Calgary, as three receivers stood out on the weekend - U of C stars Anthony Parker and Nathan Coehoorn, along with Calgary native Marco Iannuzzi of Harvard. Anyone who had concerns that Parker's dropped ball issues in the Vanier Cup were a sign that he couldn't handle pressure can rest easy. The Dinos slotback caught everything, including a few tough ones, proving, as I always believed, that he just had a bad day at the Vanier. Chris Schultz and I were talking while watching the 1-on-1s and Schultzie could tell every time it was Parker's turn to go because I'd make him stop talking to watch. That said, some teams have Coehoorn ahead of his teammate on their draft board. The duo reminds me of my former college teammates Tyrone Williams and Dave Sapunjis, who were both Calgary Stampeder first round picks in the early '90s.

Iannuzzi impressed me with the way he reacted after tweaking a hamstring on his first attempt at the forty. Displaying the intelligence you'd expect of a Harvard man, he passed on his second forty to avoid making the injury worse but stayed warm to do the 20-yard shuttle as well as the drills and 1on-1s, which wouldn't put as much strain on the muscle. A lot of highly regarded prospects would've completely shut things down in that situation.

Of all of the 1-on-1 sessions of the day - OL vs. DL, RBs vs. LBs, and Receivers vs. DBs - by far the most dominant performance of the day was turned in by DB Craig Butler (Western Ontario). A relatively average tester, Butler demonstrated why the E-Camp includes an on-field session. He was physical and intuitive with great footwork in smothering virtually every receiver he faced. One CFL defensive coach referred to it as "the most dominant 1-on-1 period I've ever seen a player have at E-Camp."

I don't do mock drafts and typically prefer to avoid playing prognosticator about events over which I have no control...but I'll finish with two predictions:

1) While Anthony Parker would be my top pick, I see Scott Mitchell going first overall. He is legitimately the most "pro ready" player available and O-Line is a bigger need than receiver for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who hold that selection.

2) QB Bradley Sinopoli (Ottawa) had an outstanding E-Camp and will be drafted as a quarterback. I'd be very surprised if the 2010 Hec Crighton winner lasts past the third round. He's not a risk as a high pick for two reasons: a) He's a good enough athlete that you could justify taking him in Round 3 as a receiver or safety and; b) He's legitimately a good enough QB prospect that you'd trade a third round pick to obtain his negotiation list rights from another team if he were American. So why not use the same third rounder to draft him?

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