CFL

McGill lineman Duvernay-Tardif anxious to complete pro day

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The Canadian Press
3/25/2014 5:19:28 PM
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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif can't wait to strut his stuff Thursday.

The McGill Redmen offensive lineman will hold a private workout in Montreal for NFL and CFL scouts. And after spending much of the last four months preparing for the audition, the six-foot-five, 315-pound tackle is ready for it to finally happen.

"I don't know if I should say this but I just want to do it and be done with it," he said with a chuckle Tuesday via telephone. "I've been training since December for this . . . for me, it's been so long.

"I felt a little stressed last weekend but I went on the field (Monday) where I'm going to hold my pro day and ran some very good times in my shuttle and three-cone so I think I'm ready."

The 23-year-old med student said he feels terrific right now but understands nerves and the pressure to perform could weigh heavily upon him at his pro day. If that happens, Duvernay-Tardif will take a rather philosophical approach to deal with the situation.

"Nerves and pressure can help so much with your adrenalin," he said. "You just have to control that."

Duvernay-Tardif was able to control being well rested and fresh for his workout. To ensure that, he took half of last week and all of this one off from his duties working the night shift at a Montreal hospital, expecting to return either Sunday or Monday.

The articulate native of St. Hilaire, Que., finished the season as the top-ranked prospect for this year's CFL draft, slated for May 13. But Duvernay-Tardif has also drawn plenty of NFL interest and is projected as a third- or fourth-round selection in this year's draft, which will be held May 8-10.

Not bad, considering Duvernay-Tardif began his college career as a 253-pound defensive lineman and only switched to offence in 2011. McGill also accommodated his heavy academic workload by reducing his practice commitments during football season.

But that didn't stop Duvernay-Tardif from twice earning All-Canadian honours and capturing the '13 Metras trophy as Canadian university football's top lineman. He was invited to participate in last weekend's CFL combine in Toronto but opted instead to focus on his pro day.

It's unclear how many scouts will attend Duvernay-Tardif's workout. Both the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills have said publicly they'll be there but some CFL teams are expected to take a miss because Duvernay-Tardif is likely to be go in the NFL draft and start his pro career there.

Regardless, Duvernay-Tardif's people are erring on the side of caution.

"We agreed to prepare food for 50 people, I don't know what that means," Duvernay-Tardif said. "I've been told if we had 15 (NFL scouts) we'd be super happy and if we had 20, that would be incredible."

Duvernay-Tardif said he'll begin the workout with his jumps — standing broad and vertical — then run the 40-yard dash. Afterwards, he'll do timed agility events and the bench press before performing position drills requested by the scouts.

"I want to show them I'm athletic," Duvernay-Tardif said. "I'm not going there to show my technique, I'm going there so they can see I can move, I'm smooth and flexible but also explosive and I think my broad and vertical jump will show that."

Duvernay-Tardif won't be done auditioning for NFL teams after his workout. He said he has visits already lined up with Arizona, the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.

Duvernay-Tardif has benchmarks he wants to hit Thursday. He'd like to reach at least nine feet in the broad jump and 31.5 inches in the vertical while posting a 40-yard dash time around 5.1 seconds and showing excellent quickness and mobility in the agility drills.

Positioning the bench press late in the workout is surprising because many athletes prefer to do strength movements early when they're freshest. But Duvernay-Tardif isn't concerned about fatigue being a factor when he goes under the bar.

"After I bench, I feel I'm tight in my chest and my arm motion so when I run it's not as good," he said. "I'd like to do a really really good number (in bench) but I know already I'm probably going to go over 37 so I'm not sure if it really matters if it's 37 or 40.

"I just want to jump well and do a good shuttle. The bench isn't really a concern for me."

But Duvernay-Tardif admits to having a little fear of the unknown regarding what drills scouts will ask him to perform.

"It's been a while since I've done anything football-related," he said. "I want to work out for them but at the same time I don't know what they're going to ask and you never really know what they're going to look for."

How Duvernay-Tardif performs and handles himself Thursday will be crucial. For many pro football personnel, it will be their first chance to see and speak with him and formulate that all-important first impression.

But Duvernay-Tardif is approaching the workout like any other.

"I'm going to eat what I normally eat, maybe some cottage cheese, toast and fruit," he said. "Then I'll head to the gym and do a good warmup because I feel that's key when you run, you want to sweat a little bit before you do.

"I think everything now is on my side, I just have to go and deliver."

The scouting report on Duvernay-Tardif says he has the size, strength, athleticism, temperament and intelligence to play at the next level. However, there are concerns about his inexperience as an offensive lineman and having played a yard off the ball at McGill, prompting some scouts to question if Duvernay-Tardif can get into blocks quickly enough in the NFL.

Then again, Duvernay-Tardif has experience playing the American game. He participated in the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla., last January.

"I am looking forward to this but at the same time I'm keeping myself occupied," Duvernay-Tardif said. "That way you stay fresh and then you run."

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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