He came to the CFL combine as the top-ranked prospect and Kwaku Boateng lived up to that billing.
The Wilfrid Laurier defensive end showed his athleticism in the individual drills before proving his pass-rush prowess in the one-on-one matchups Saturday in Regina. Boateng was ranked sixth on the CFL Scouting Bureau's top-20 prospects list for the 2017 draft but with the top five players absent, Boateng was the highest-profile player at the two-day session.
"I felt like being so high was only a curse because you can only go down from there," he said. "It definitely put a lot of pressure on me."
It was hard to tell as the six-foot-one, 233-pound Boateng posted a 33.5-inch vertical and 40-yard dash time of 4.901 seconds. He only had 15 reps in the bench press but in one-on-one matchups he showed impressive pass-rush moves while also performing well in special-teams drills.
Boateng, who also met with eight of the nine CFL teams, downplayed his bench number but wasn't happy with his broad jump of eight feet 7.75 inches.
"The bench, I think, is what it is," he said. "But if could go back (to broad jump) I think I could get a better number but there's no point in looking back and complaining now.
"I think my (game) tape shows I've been an effective defensive end and an effective pass rusher. I think that's the most important piece of what scouts should be looking at."
Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters was impressed with Boateng's play Saturday.
"He's 250 pounds, he's strong," Walters said, "You saw him get off the ball.
"He looked really, really good today from an athletic standpoint."
Winnipeg owns three of the first 15 picks of the draft, including the first and sixth overall. But Walters didn't come away with a clear idea of which player he'll take first overall.
"I think maybe some of the kids you graded high versus the kid that maybe graded a little bit low, they had some good reps, they had some bad reps," he said. "Now we'll sit down and have to watch this film a lot more closely over the next couple of weeks and go back and watch some more game film.
"It's a lot more work now."
The absence of many of the top-ranked prospects gave others the opportunity to shine before CFL officials.
One player who excelled was Johnny Augustine. The five-foot-nine, 202-pound running back from Guelph, ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, posted 22 reps in the bench event and had a 30.5-inch vertical but excelled in the one-on-one blocking drills but was especially nifty running pass routes.
Augustine also participated in special-teams drills.
Another interesting prospect is Anthony Gosselin, a six-foot-one, 251-pound running back from Sherbrooke. He had 30 reps in the bench press and a 40-yard dash time of 4.734 seconds before performing well in the one-on-one blocking drills.
Evan Foster, a five-foot-11, 225-pound defensive lineman from Manitoba, showed his versatility by performing in the one-on-one drills at linebacker.
Mason Woods, a hulking offensive lineman from Idaho, came to the combine being mentioned as a potential first overall selection. But the native of Port Coquitlam, B.C., was vulnerable facing smaller defensive linemen who gained leverage on the towering six-foot-nine, 324-pound Woods.
Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman arrived looking to improve upon his pro-day tests. On March 14, Herdman was solid in the bench press (23 reps) and broad jump (nine feet four inches) but wanted to improve his 40-yard dash (4.97 seconds according to a scout there) and vertical jump (28 1/2 inches).
Herdman, who played in the Senior Bowl and has garnered NFL interest, had a 32.5-inch vertical in Regina but finished with 15 reps in the bench (after being penalized five reps) and ran the 40 in 5.164 seconds.
"For the most part, I felt I had my explosion in the vertical," Herdman said. "I'm not the best in testing but if you watch the film you can see how I move on the field.
"It's just a whole different skillset that I think the testing won't show."
Carleton's Nathaniel Behar and McMaster's Daniel Vandervoort were arguably the most impressive receivers. But an intriguing prospect is Malcolm Carter, a six-foot-six, 192-pound junior player with the Ottawa Sooners who ran a 4.6-second 40 but laid out to make an outstanding catch in the one-on-one drills.
Carleton defensive back Tunde Adeleke posted the fastest 40-yard dash time. The five-foot-10, 190-pound Adeleke crossed the finish line in 4.559 seconds.
The event record — electronically timed — is 4.36 seconds registered by Saskatchewan Roughriders cornerback Tevaughn Campbell in 2015 while Steve Turner of Bishop's had a hand-time effort of 4.31 seconds in 2010.
On Friday night, Laval offensive lineman Jean-Simon Roy stole the show in the combine's marquee event, the bench press. The six-foot-three, 287-pound Roy pressed 225 pounds 39 times to finish five ahead of Condordia defensive lineman Samuel Narkaj.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press