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Forde: Meet the offensive prospects for the CFL Draft

Duane Forde
4/4/2012 1:41:41 PM
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The goal of the "Meet The Prospects" series is to familiarize readers with some of the more prominent prospects in the Class of 2012. These articles are, by no means, a complete prospect listing, nor are they rankings...those will come later.

Also, with that in mind, the term "Potential Sleepers" is used in this series to describe players who could sneak into the earlier rounds of the draft, as opposed to the traditional reference to a lesser known or lower ranked prospect.

Offensive Line

Cream of the Crop: There's no question that the two best offensive linemen in the class are four-year starters Austin Pasztor (Virginia), a Second Team All-American in 2011, and Ben Heenan (Saskatchewan), who participated in the East-West Shrine game in Florida in January.

Best of the Rest: With Pasztor, Heenan, and Kirby Fabien (Calgary) sitting out the E-Camp one-on-ones, there was an opportunity for other O-Linemen to really step up and boost their stock. Frankly, another four-year starter, Matt Norman (Western) was the only one who did. Next in line is a group that includes 6'7", 330 lb. Tyson Pencer (Washington State), Carson Rockhill (Calgary), and Jason Medeiros (McMaster).

Burning Question: Where does Fabien fit into the mix? If the CFL drafted players after their second year, instead of after their fourth year, Fabien would've been a lock to go in the top five in 2010. The concern is that injuries seem to have hampered his development since then.

Potential Sleepers: Mike Filer (Mount Allison) was an all-conference guard for the Mounties but may be undersized to play there at the next level. Nonetheless, he's a good athlete, who projects as a solid CFL centre. South of the border, redshirt junior Billy Peach (Jacksonville) became a solid starting tackle for the Dolphins after battling injuries earlier in his NCAA career.

Receivers

Cream of the Crop: Powerful Shamawd Chambers (Wilfrid Laurier) confirmed his status as the top receiver prospect with a strong, if unspectacular, E-Camp performance. The other elite prospect in this group is tight end Luke Willson (Rice)...but nobody talks about him, as the redshirt junior is expected to explore NFL and/or pro baseball opportunities when he completes his eligibility.

Best of the Rest: Ismael Bamba (Sherbrooke) is a dynamic athlete and Simon Charbonneau-Campeau (Sherbrooke) has been the nation's most prolific receiver over the last two years. Both were expected to push Chambers at E-Camp but neither really distinguished himself. In fact, no offensive player boosted his stock more at E-Camp than Bogdan Raic (Ottawa), a big body who runs and catches well.

Burning Question: Who will be the second receiver off the board? Aside from the aforementioned Bamba, Charbonneau-Campeau, and Raic, keep an eye on Johnny Aprile (Queen's). Like Jade Etienne last year, he's a player who's stock skyrocketed during the season, as he seemed to show up in a SportsCentre highlight every week.

Potential Sleepers: Although Jawann Westerman (Rutgers) isn't as well known as his much bigger, football-playing siblings, Jamaal and Jabar, he has proven to be one of the most impressive athletes available. That, combined with very limited playing time in college, could translate to "untapped potential". Meanwhile, Mathieu Bouvette (Laval) could slide past some people after a knee injury cut short his season and kept him out of the pre-draft combines. Still, the 225 lbs. receiver ranked second behind only Chambers in most of the CIS East-West Bowl testing last spring.

Running Backs

Cream of the Crop: Injuries and a logjam in the Mustangs backfield have hurt Nathan Riva's (Western) production but there's no doubt that he ranks among the elite athletes in the Class of 2012.

Best of the Rest: In 2011, Ryan Granberg (Queen's) led the CIS in rushing yards per game by a wide margin, and his E-Camp numbers suggest he's just a hair behind Riva physically.

Burning Question: What position will Riva play in the CFL? In him, teams see an athlete whom they want to get on the field. Many suggest that the best way to do that would be by moving him to slotback or free safety.

Potential Sleepers: Don't overlook the fullbacks, as there is a league wide need for players at my favourite position. This should help the stock of versatile Patrick Lavoie (Laval) and possibly Brett Haenni (Acadia).

Quarterbacks

Cream of the Crop: Kyle Quinlan (McMaster) didn't have a stellar E-Camp but showed in the 2011 Vanier Cup that he possesses mobility, toughness, intelligence, and, of course, the arm strength to make all the required throws.

Best of the Rest: Kyle Graves (Acadia) and Billy Greene (British Columbia) are both good athletes with solid arm strength, and they were among the best players at any position in the CIS last season.

Burning Question: Is there a place for Greene in the CFL? CIS followers know that the 2011 Hec Crighton winner has a skill set that makes him "Tebow North"...can you say "wildcat"? The catch is that, in order to get the opportunity, he'd likely first have to make a roster at another position.

Potential Sleepers: Like Greene, Donnie Marshall's (Western) running ability is a big part of his game, however, he doesn't have the size or arm strength of his UBC counterpart.

Tomorrow, I'll take a look at the defence.



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