CFL

McGill's Duvernay-Tardif works out for CFL and NFL scouts

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The Canadian Press
3/27/2014 5:49:16 PM
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MONTREAL -- Canada's Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has his eyes set firmly on the upcoming NFL draft.

Under the gaze of nine NFL and four CFL scouts, Duvernay-Tardif confirmed why he's one of the most touted Canadian football prospects in recent memory.

The six-foot-five offensive lineman for the McGill Redmen had his private pro day in Montreal on Thursday. He leapt, sprinted and tackled during the two-hour training session, setting personal bests and impressing his visitors from out of town.

It's been a while since a CIS player garnered such attention from both sides of the border.

"It doesn't happen every day, sure," said the 23-year-old, who chose to let scouts from both professional football leagues assess his abilities simultaneously, rather than attend last week's CFL combine. "And it's not every day a Canadian gets the opportunity to do what I'm doing. I don't know if this is historic. But I'm really happy it happened to me."

Duvernay-Tardif, a medical student at Montreal's McGill University, is projected as a third-to-fourth round pick in May's NFL draft.

The native of St-Hilaire, Que., scored a personal best in the broad jump Thursday, and some scouts clocked him in at less than five seconds in the 40-yard dash -- impressive results for a player weighing just under 300 pounds.

"I've been training for so long for these tests," said Duvernay-Tardif, who dedicated five months of work and conditioning to his pro day. "It was time to show what I could do. I knew what I was going to hit. I hit those numbers, and even better."

About the only downside was Duvernay-Tardif registering 34 reps in the bench press. While that's a more than respectable showing, Duvernay-Tardif was looking for between 37 and 40 reps.

Still, his results in most categories place him amongst the top performers from last February's NFL scouting combine, a week-long event where the top U.S. college football prospects display their abilities before league coaches, scouts and GMs.

In Duvernay-Tardif's case, the NFL came to him.

Scouts from Oakland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Arizona, New York, Green Bay, Chicago, San Francisco and Buffalo made the trip north to see first-hand if the Quebec native has what it takes to play in the NFL.

Lee Gissendaner, area scout for the Green Bay Packers, was pleased with Duvernay-Tardif's overall performance.

"The most impressive was the way he moved around," said Gissendaner, now in his 13th year scouting for the Packers. "He showed the versatility that you like, the flexibility. He did everything in the workout.

"He seems like a guy who likes to compete. He responded to what we asked him to do, followed directions. His work ethic was on display."

NFL scouts have been watching Duvernay-Tardif closely since the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla., last January. He and Manitoba defensive tackle Evan Gill -- another top prospect for this year's CFL draft -- represented Canada at the annual U.S. college all-star game.

"You look for a guy to stand out at this level," said Gissendaner. "When he came down to Florida, he held his own. We saw some raw ability, and some raw tools that maybe we can develop."

Scouts will continue reviewing film, compare some of their top prospects, and put together draft and free agency boards until the start of the NFL draft May 8 in New York.

If the offensive lineman gets his way he will be drafted by an NFL team and head to training camp this summer.

There are only a handful of Canadians in the NFL, and earning a spot on a starting line in the U.S. is no easy task. And Duvernay-Tardif is actually the top-rated prospect for the coming CFL draft according to the latest rankings.

Alongside NFL scouts Thursday were members of the Montreal Alouettes, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts, and Ottawa Redblacks.

"He's one of the top picks in this draft, for sure," said Joey Abrams, the Alouettes' assistant director of player personnel. "It's difficult to find a kid like this, with his skill set and abilities. He's a rare specimen. This is unprecedented. I've never seen this before.

"He met expectations. Everyone knew he was big and strong, and he showed that today."

If the NFL doesn't come calling, Duvernay-Tardif is more than happy to play in is home country.

"I would love to play in the CFL," he said. "I played against a lot of people that now play in the CFL. It would be great to play in that league. I'm going to play and do my best wherever I end up."

The CFL will hold its annual draft by conference call May 13.

Notes: Earlier in the week, Duvernay-Tardif appeared on a two-page spread in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. The article was titled "Heal Thyself." a Last fall, Duvernay-Tardif was awarded the J.P. Metras Trophy as Canadian university football's top lineman.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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