Following last week's unveiling of the final prospect rankings ahead of May 12's CFL draft, the league held a conference call with the 5th, 8th and 11th-ranked prospects, Danny Groulx, Lemar Durant and Chris Ackie. While all of these guys are expected to go high in the draft, there are plenty of differences between them, including their position, the schools they went to, how their stock has changed throughout the draft process and how much interest the NFL has shown in them. Friday's conference call provided an interesting look at each of these players and what people are talking about with them heading into the draft. Let's start by examining Groulx. We'll take a look at Durant and Ackie in subsequent posts in the days to come.
With Groulx, perhaps the most notable question is if the NFL is seriously interested in him. He had a long and successful college career at Laval, and he has good size (he's listed as 6'6'', 320 pounds) and tested well in most metrics at the CFL combine. He also attended NFL regional and superregional combines. That doesn't put him in quite the same category of obvious NFL interest as the four Canadian players who went to the full NFL combine (including top-ranked CFL prospect Christian Covington), but it could suggest NFL teams might well take a flyer on him late in their draft or as an undrafted free agent.
The NFL has become interested in both Canadian offensive linemen and CIS players in recent years, and the success of David Foucault (who went from playing for the Montreal Carabins, in Laval's conference to undrafted NFL free agent to starting left tackle for the Carolina Panthers all in the span of last year) may have them looing to strike gold with another CIS lineman. Groulx said he's definitely open to the NFL, but he's not determined to play there and only there.
"I'm not really focusing on the NFL," he said. "I did what I had to do for the NFL and I did what I did for the CFL. I'm in the process of waiting to see what happens."
He said he's open to playing either north or south of the border.
"My goal is to play professional football, whether that's in the NFL or the CFL."
Fortunately for CFL teams, they should have a good idea of if Groulx will wind up in the NFL by draft day. The CFL draft is a full 10 days later than the NFL draft this year, suggesting we won't see a repeat of the Foucault situation (he was drafted fifth overall by Montreal three days after going unpicked in the NFL draft, but then signed with Carolina shortly thereafter) as NFL teams will have largely filled out their rosters.
If Groulx doesn't get picked up by an NFL team by the CFL draft, he has a shot at going first overall to Ottawa; his college career and combine results make him one of the top players in this draft, and the Redblacks might also like to add a guy who hails from not far away (Sherbrooke, Quebec) and a Francophone who could help them further their efforts to reach out to that community. Groulx said playing in Ottawa would be nice, as would being the top pick, but his main goal is to wind up with a team that's committed to him.
"I just want to be on a team that wants me," he said. "If they draft me first overall, I'm happy. If they draft me ninth overall (Ottawa's next pick), that's okay."
Groulx will be a player to watch in the CFL draft, but much of his eventual draft position may be dictated by if he's signed with an NFL team by then. If he has, it seems likely he'll fall to a later round, but someone will still undoubtedly gamble on him. If he hasn't signed in the NFL by then, though, he could be one of the first few names off the board. We'll have to keep an eye on him heading into the draft.