Now that the national combine has wrapped up, we have a pretty good idea of how prospects stack up heading towards May 12's CFL draft. There are still some things on the calendar that could alter teams' decisions on who to pick when, most notably the NFL draft (April 30 - May 2) and the following waves of NFL undrafted free agent signings as well as some pro days. However, teams already have the information collected at the combine from drills, one-on-ones and interviews, plus the tape and stats already seen from players' college or junior football careers, and what's currently known on NFL teams' particular interest in prospects. That's the majority of what's going to impact who's drafted where, so we can come up with some very rough ideas of who the top picks in this year's draft could be.
Note that this is a different methodology than the CFL's prospect rankings, which mostly go by pure talent and often wind up with #1s who are drafted late thanks to NFL interest, such as Bo Lokombo, who was ranked #1 in 2013 and went 21st overall. The guys below are all picked because they're both talented and appear reasonably likely at this point to wind up in the CFL (although that could change, which is why having a late CFL draft is so important). Some other players who could make this list on talent alone are left off thanks to already-overt NFL interest in them. With that said, here's a look at five names likely to go high in the 2015 CFL draft:
Danny Groulx, offensive lineman, Laval Rouge et Or (CIS): Groulx entered the combine as the eighth-ranked prospect by the CFL's December list, and while he didn't shine particularly notably in many of the timing or strength-testing drills, he turned in perhaps the best performance in Sunday's one-on-ones. He's also been in the top 10 in both of the CFL lists so far, placing fourth in September. There are a lot of quality offensive linemen in this draft, some of whom we'll discuss later, but Groulx is one of the few with the combination of potential tackle size (he's listed as 6'6'', 320 pounds) and not a ton of explicit NFL interest thus far (although that could change). There's a lot to like about him, including his aggressive mentality.
Nic Demski, receiver, Manitoba Bisons (CIS): Demski was third in the September rankings and fifth in the December ones, and his showing at the combine should help bolster his case even more. He did reasonably well Saturday, but really shone Sunday, posting a combine-best mark of 6.91 seconds (and the only one under seven seconds) in the three-cone drill, finishing second overall and first amongst receivers with a 4.19-second shuttle run and finishing fifth overall and second amongst receivers with a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. The main question about him is if a 5'11'', 204-pound receiver can succeed in the CFL, but some smaller guys have had great careers in this league, and Demski certainly has the speed and athleticism to potentially do well. He also has a proven record of success (he was a four-time All-Canadian at Manitoba as both a receiver and returner), and is one of the most interesting non-linemen in this draft.
Sean McEwen, offensive lineman, Calgary Dinos (CIS): McEwen was one of many Dinos to feature on December's list, which saw him rise to sixth from 14th in September. His combine showing may help him even more; he led all offensive linemen with 27 bench-press reps, fifth overall, tied with Michigan State's James Bodanis for the best 40 time amongst offensive linemen with a 5.01 and also tied with former Calgary teammate Sukh Chung for the second-best broad jump amongst offensive linemen (8 feet, 11.25 inches). Former Dinos' head coach Blake Nill told TSN's Tony D'Archi “Sean is maybe the most talented offensive lineman I had during my tenure at Calgary.” That's high praise indeed considering all the great players who have come from there. McEwen has substantial size (he's 6'2'', 303 pounds) and has shown the ability to play both guard and centre. That versatility could make him a desirable target for many teams.
Daryl Waud, defensive lineman, Western Mustangs (CIS): Waud, the third-ranked prospect on the December list, was the highest-ranked prospect to actually attend the CFL combine. (#1 and #2 Brett Boyko and Alex Mateas both have substantial NFL interest, which is why they're not on here; if the NFL gets serious about them, they may go later in the CFL draft). His combine had ups and downs, with some good moments like 21 bench reps (fouth amongst defensive linemen) but some bad ones (he was last at his position in the broad jump and third-last in the 40), and he wasn't thrilled with his showing in the one-on-one drills, either. He's still a talented player, though, and at this point, he still looks like a good candidate to go early in the draft. He was by far the top-ranked defensive lineman in December (the next was Laval's Brandon Tennant at #15), and that's a position where teams love to have Canadian talent. They'll have to gauge how much interest the U.S. has in him, though, as Waud played in this year's Shrine Game and did well. At the moment, he looks like a good bet to go high in the CFL draft, but that may change if he gets serious NFL offers.
Sukh Chung, offensive lineman, Calgary Dinos (CIS): Chung's only been playing football since ninth grade, but his skills were quickly apparent. Back in 2011, Nill said "I think he's a future first-round (Canadian Football League) draft pick," and that's looking quite possible right now. After an impressive career at Calgary that saw him named an All-Canadian in both 2013 and 2014, the 6'4'', 300-pound Chung did pretty well at the combine, notching 25 bench press reps and posting a 8-foot, 11.25-inch broad jump. The bench number was second amongst offensive linemen to his former teammate, McEwen, and the broad jump mark was tied with McEwen for second. He also performed well in Sunday's one-on-ones. Chung is someone else the CFL will need to gauge U.S. interest in, as he attended NFL regional and super regional combines earlier this year. If he doesn't get a firm NFL offer, though, he could be a top CFL pick.