It's always interesting to watch how the CFL Scouting Bureau top prospects list (a combination of each team's rankings of draft-eligible Canadian players) evolves over its three editions, and this year is no exception. The same player (McGill offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) has topped the boards since September (and is likely heading to the NFL), but the other rankings have changed substantially, with September's being positionally-balanced, January's boosting defensive players and offensive linemen, and Tuesday's final rankings ahead of May 13's draft favouring players on both the offensive and defensive lines. Here they are:
January saw offensive linemen ranked first, second and third, and that hasn't changed, but Montreal's David Focault (now second) has swapped spots with Laval's Pierre Lavertu (now third). The most interesting name in the top five is Quinn Smith, though. Smith shone at defensive tackle for the Concordia Stingers this year and also double-shifted on the offensive line given the team's injuries, leading to him being named program MVP in February. Despite that, he wasn't listed in either the September or January prospect rankings. He impressed at the combine, though, recording 28 reps on the bench press (third amongst defensive linemen), a 7.56-second three-cone drill time (third amongst defensive linemen) and a 4.82-second 40-yard dash (fifth amongst defensive linemen). Teams obviously liked what they saw from him, and his stock is rising.
Another player who shot up these rankings thanks to his combine performance was Western Mustangs' defensive lineman Dylan Ainsworth, who was ranked 15th in January but has moved up to seventh. Ainsworth dazzled at the combine, leading all defensive linemen with a 4.697-second 40, a 35.5 inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10 feet, 2.5 inches. His impressive physical showing got people talking, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him taken relatively high in this year's draft.
It's looking to be a good draft for both offensive and defensive linemen, at least judging by these rankings. Six of the top seven players are linemen (the only exception is St. Francis Xavier receiver Devon Bailey, ranked fifth), and there are an intriguing pair of linemen further down, too. SFU OL Matthias Goosen has fallen from fifth in January to ninth in the latest rankings, but he's still a very interesting prospect. The 6'4'', 300-pounder put up 29 bench press reps at the combine (fourth in his position group), and while he didn't do particularly well in the 40 or the broad jump (part of why he may have slipped), he's still a big, powerful player who could be a solid option for teams looking to boost their OL depth. Meanwhile, Montreal DL David Menard may have worked his way onto the list thanks to his combine showing, which saw him post an event-best 33 reps in the bench press. He's only ranked #13 at the moment, but he might be an interesting target for teams that want to add Canadians on the defensive line. Between Goosen, Menard and the other more highly-touted linemen, it seems set to be a draft focused on big men. We'll see if that's how it plays out in May.