March 23, 2022

McEvoy, Lions Brass Mine For Combine Gold

The stopwatch is ticking, the cones are laid out, the bench rack is loaded and the stakes are high. Let the gold mine begin.

Results from the CFL’s three regional combine results are now available for teams to evaluate even further before the main event- the national combine- takes place in Toronto this weekend. Five athletes from each of the regional combine have been selected to compete with the best prospects in Canada to elevate their draft stock before the upcoming CFL Draft on May 3rd.

Lions co-general manager and long-time talent evaluator Neil McEvoy lives for this time of the CFL calendar.

“Now you get to put each of those five guys against the cream of the crop. Sometimes those guys from regionals have a little bit of an advantage because they know what’s going to happen, they’re not as nervous,” explained McEvoy.

“But obviously, the guys who got picked to the national combine are the top guys.”

McEvoy, co-GM/head coach Rick Campbell, Canadian scouting director Rob Ralph and the entire brass have a full schedule ahead of them this weekend. On top of evaluating prospects for the national draft, the global draft this year will occur on the same date as well, May 3rd. McEvoy and company will also mine for prospects from outside of Canada and the United States.

With the CFL Combine on tap for this weekend in Toronto, it presents a big opportunity to mine for prospect gold ahead of the Draft.

“We’re going to see all the guys on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’re going to interview the global players on Friday morning, then interview the national players Friday and Saturday. Once the athletic part of the combine happens Saturday and Sunday afternoon, we’ll come back and start discussing what’s the best fit for us,” McEvoy added.

The Lions will formally interview 20 prospects, which means this particular mine will involve plenty of detail. Once the national combine is complete, the coaching staff will regroup to evaluate which players to potentially go for during the draft — along with an additional interview with the players if necessary.

As the team currently obtain nine total selections on May 3rd, and the 3rd overall pick of the draft, McEvoy and Campbell will aim to beef up the roster before training camp.

“We’re not just concentrating on any position. We’re concentrating on all of them. At the end of the day, we’re going to know who these guys are so when you’re picking, even in the late rounds, you must know who those guys are. We have to concentrate on getting to know everybody that we’re going to be able to draft,” McEvoy said.

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The Lions had addressed a few loopholes during the free agency back in February by adding a few key playmakers on the defensive line, such as Steven Richardson, David Menard, Mathieu Betts and Woody Barron. And also Loucheiz Purifoy and Delvin Breaux Sr. in the secondary and locking down veteran placekicker, Sean Whyte.

The draft will allow the team to add more depth and potentially a franchise player. Like the Lions linebacker core, the majority was once drafted by the Lions. Starting with veteran Bo Lokombo, a 3rd round selection from the 2013 draft. Jordan Williams was the 2020 top pick- the first-ever regional combine attendee to go first overall and took home the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie award in 2021. In addition, Ben Hladik (Round three, 22nd overall in 2021) and Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (Round four, 34th overall in 2018) were both picked by the Lions in their draft class.

With the CFL Combine on tap for this weekend in Toronto, it presents a big opportunity to mine for prospect gold ahead of the Draft.

“The beauty of having as many Canadian linebackers as we do is that you also need to back them up. You need to bring in a new group of guys to push the current group and make the team better on special teams and anywhere else,” McEvoy said.

“We are going to be able to pick at number three, we should be able to pick a player who will come in and help us either now or certainly in the future. We’re always going to pick the best available players that will help the team.”

Last season, the club went for two talented Canadians in the NCAA: Daniel Joseph and Alaric Jackson. While Jackson, the big offensive lineman out of the University of Iowa recently won the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, Joseph, the defensive lineman out of North Carolina State, is expected to continue to pursue chances south of the border.

“This is Joseph’s NFL Draft year. He’s going to go through that process. But once it’s all said and done, we will certainly take a look and talk to him once his NFL opportunities are no longer in existence,” McEvoy added.

“We understand that he’s going to want to do that until he’s exhausted all these opportunities. Once that happens, we’ll be here with open arms to invite him and officially make him a BC Lion.”

Two pairs of twins at the national combine this weekend will be showing off their athletic ability. One of those sets has a familiar name. Calgary Dino receivers Jalen and Tyson Philpot look to carry on their father Cory’s legacy with long and productive CFL carers.

Quarterback Tre Ford and defensive back Tyson Ford, both out of Waterloo, are two other highly-rated prospects for this year’s CFL Draft. The suspense has now been building up over the last few months and now every team will finally have a chance to see them perform live.

“All those four guys are great football players. The best opportunity is to bring in guys that are going to make the team. There’s nothing worse than drafting a guy that has no chance of making the team. Whether it’s the Philpots or the Fords, we’re going to draft the best guys available,” the GM said.

McEvoy and company will be on the clock for pick three of the opening round. This weekend at the combine presents more opportunities to mine for prospect gold.