With the 2009 CFL E-Camp in the books and a few days to digest all the information it provided, here are a few impressions of what went on last weekend.
The Good: O-Linemen are typically known more for their appetites than their conditioning but, as a whole, this year's group appeared to be about as physically fit as a herd of 300 pound men can be.
The Bad: One-on-one pass rush drills always favour the defence but the matchup shouldn't be as one-sided as it was on Sunday.
Bull Market: This unit certainly didn't produce any Cinderella stories but one pleasant surprise was Christian Jacques (Sherbrooke). Invited to the camp as an injury replacement, he didn't look out of place, especially in terms of athleticism.
Bear Market: Steve Myddelton (St. Francis Xavier) had a particularly tough time during the one on one drills.
Questions Answered: Matt Morencie (Windsor) dominated the O-Line testing. More importantly he looked good in his first test at centre, after playing tackle throughout his university career.
The Jury Is Out: Consensus number one prospect Simeon Rottier (Alberta) had trouble with a couple of speed rushes during the one on ones, which underscored one of the few concerns scouts have with his game. Nonetheless, he'll still be a high pick in this draft. It just raises the question of whether he'll be projected as a tackle or guard.
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: On Sunday, the O- and D-Lines started their day with a 6:30 a.m. wake up call and were on the field shortly after 8:00 a.m.. That doesn't sound horrible until you consider that some players in the group had travelled to Toronto from the Pacific and Mountain Time zones, and that the workout was on the first day of Daylight Savings Time. In other words, players like Mike Morris (British Columbia), Dylan Steenbergen (Calgary), and Rottier were on the field with their bodies feeling like it was 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. It's tough to imagine that they were at their best under those circumstances.
The Good: While this group seems unlikely to produce a bumper crop of future CFL starters, thanks to their mobility and body types, several of them have the potential to eventually earn roster spots with their special teams play.
The Bad: The top rated prospects at this position left the door wide open for others to challenge their draft position.
Bull Market: On Saturday morning, the relatively unheralded Dee Sterling (Queen's) tied for the '09 E-Camp lead with 23 reps on the bench press. On Sunday, he demonstrated during the D-Line workout, that he uses that strength well to fend off blockers.
Bear Market: Scouts were high on Osie Ukwuoma (Queen's) coming into the camp but he distinguished himself in neither testing nor drills.
With Sterling stepping up, those same scouts might have wondered if they had been watching the wrong member of the Golden Gaels' front four all season.
Questions Answered: After his sophomore year at Rutgers, it was rumoured that Jonathan Pierre-Etienne (Montreal) had been forced out of football by a string of injuries. A good season with Les Carabins, followed by a strong combine showing appears to have erased the doubts.
The Jury Is Out: There's little question that the very athletic Stan Van Sichem (Regina) is a draft worthy prospect, however, the E-Camp failed to answer the question of whether he'll be best suited to play defensive end or linebacker in the CFL.
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: Despite being the top rated D-Line prospect in this class, Etienne Légaré (Laval) didn't dominate during the on-field drills. That's likely related to the fact that he had dropped about seven pounds while battling a virus the week before the E-Camp.
The Good: It's always impressive when a top prospect actually lives up to his advance billing. It ranks as phenomenal when such a player exceeds expectations the way Jamall Lee (Bishop's) did throughout the weekend.
The Bad: It's difficult to imagine that many players from this group will be able to play regularly at the next level.
Bull Market: Over the last couple of years, the CFL's demand for fullbacks has exceeded the supply. Peter Quinney (Wilfrid Laurier) showed enough to suggest that he could help balance that equation.
Bear Market: Davie Mason (Ottawa) would benefit from another year in the CIS to transform himself from a tailback into a fullback. He was asked to make the switch on short notice after receiving a late E-Camp
Questions Answered: Only time will tell whether he can ever become a starter, but all indications are that Jamall Lee can at least compete for playing time in the CFL.
The Jury Is Out: Eric Lee (Weber State) had his ups (blocked well in one-on-ones) and downs (ran a slower-than-expected forty). His game film is limited so how scouts feel about him will depend largely upon the
relative stock they put in each of those evaluation tools. (As an aside, Lee ran a 4.58 forty at Weber State's Pro Day on Tuesday, down from 4.69 at the E-Camp.)
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: His college rushing stats suggest that Jamall Lee didn't produce when faced with adversity. The E-Camp erased any questions about his toughness though, as he shook off an ankle sprain and demonstrated both the willingness and ability to block.
The Good: Quality Canadian linebackers are a valued commodity in the CFL. The E-Camp supported the notion that this year's LB class possesses the unique combination of size, speed, and strength required to compete at the next level.
The Bad: While the performance of the group was solid, no individual turned in a dominant performance.
Bull Market: It's impossible to ignore the big frame and athletic ability of James Yurichuk (Bishop's).
Bear Market: After academic issues kept him out during his senior season, Jason Kosec (Western Ontario) didn't appear to be back to game speed yet.
Questions Answered: Having played running back and safety in college, Tang Bacheyie (Kansas) looked raw in terms of his linebacker techniques, particularly as a pass rusher. However, his coverage skills and aggressiveness suggest that he'll make a successful transition.
The Jury Is Out: Mike Cornell (Ottawa) earned mixed reviews in testing. After posting just eight reps on the bench press, Cornell rebounded by running the fastest forty yard dash among the LBs.
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: Tristan Black (Wayne State) struggled at times in pass coverage but the reality is that, within a defensive scheme, Black would rarely be placed in a position where he has to cover people man to man. Thus, it won't be a huge factor as teams evaluate him.
The Good: Next to Jamall Lee, Matt Carter (Acadia) was the most consistently impressive performer at the E-Camp.
The Bad: There were way too many dropped balls from a group of guys who were auditioning for the opportunity to catch passes for a living.
Bull Market: Matt Lambros (Liberty) was the culprit on a couple of those drops but the speedy Calgarian showed a knack for beating defenders off the line of scrimmage to get open.
Bear Market: Coming off a season ruined by injury, Simon Blaszczak (Manitoba) unfortunately didn't approach the kind of performance he required to re-establish himself as a top receiving prospect.
Questions Answered: Carter left little doubt that he will be the first receiver selected on Draft Day.
The Jury Is Out: Darcy Brown (Saint Mary's) showed up in great shape and tested and played well but left many teams wondering, “What do we do with a 250 pound wide receiver who isn't particularly interested in changing positions?”
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: On paper, Josh Svec (Waterloo) is nothing special, posting very average numbers in every test and measurement. However, the game isn't played on paper. Svec's route running drew oohs and aahs from onlookers and left defensive backs scrambling to keep up with him.
The Good: Players like Ray Wladichuk (Simon Fraser) and Brad Crawford (Guelph), who hadn't received much attention before the E-Camp, turned in credible performances.
The Bad: As a group, the DBs let too many receivers get behind them in coverage.
Bull Market: Matt Morris (Toronto) impressed so much with his athleticism, skill, attitude, and intelligence that scouts should now be able to overlook the fact that he's just 5'8”.
Bear Market: Anthony Lukca (McGill) could be a good CFLer playing in the right scheme but the individual nature of the combine setting exposed his relative lack of athleticism.
Questions Answered: A little more beef on his 182 pound frame would be nice but Tamon George (Regina) showed that he can definitely play at the next level.
The Jury Is Out: James Green (Calgary) was outstanding for the Dinos as a hybrid DBLB but, in the CFL, free safety appears to be his most likely position. The scouts' evaluation of him as a true DB was compromised by the extra “linebacker weight” he was carrying.
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover: To look at him, Jimmy Allin (Queen's) is far more Clark Kent than Superman but the Golden Gaels cornerback topped the DB group in three of the athletic tests, including an E-Camp record in the 20-yard shuttle.