March 18, 2024

“The best compliment we can give a draft prospect is ‘he’s our type of guy’”

It is akin to a high-pressure, intense job interview for some of this country’s top football prospects. It’s a test of strength and speed and skill, augmented by the usual height and weight measurements often called the ‘Underwear Olympics.’

The Canadian Football League’s top draft prospects – both nationals and globals – are arriving in Winnipeg for this week’s CFL Combine, running Wednesday through Sunday, with on-field testing and practices at Winnipeg Soccer Federation North.

The Blue Bombers have 10 picks in this year’s draft – one in each of the eight rounds, plus a fifth rounder from the Ottawa RedBlacks via the Dru Brown trade in January and a bonus second rounder as a reward for Canadian snaps in 2023.

Winnipeg will select eight overall, followed by 17th, 20th, 28th, 37th, 40th, 46th, 55th, 64th and 73rd.

Those picks should help the club further stock their homegrown talent, knowing that last year’s entire draft class – including defensive end Anthony Bennett, defensive back Jake Kelly, receiver Jeremy Murphy and defensive tackle Tanner Schmekel, all of whom dressed for games and spent the year with the team – will be in camp this May.

That will undoubtedly impact how management approaches the draft and how players are evaluated this week.

“You want to give the players a real opportunity in camp,” Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters recently told “When you’re going through the draft process it’s, ‘All right, if we draft this player who does he have to beat out to make our team?’

“With the four other players from last year’s draft coming (defensive tackle Collin Kornelson, defensive back Bret MacDougall, running back/receiver Jonathan Rosery and linebacker Max Charbonneau) plus our 10 picks from this year, that’s 14 rookie Canadians potentially coming to training camp and we want to give them every opportunity to compete.

“So, you have to talk already about what they have to do to make the team or the practice roster and that certainly affects your draft strategy.”

More on the CFL Combine in our handy-dandy primer:

Who’s attending:

The full list of the prospects can be found here.

Why the CFL Combine is important

It’s the last chance for teams to get a look at a prospect in testing and one-on-one drills before the draft – which goes April 30th at 7 p.m. – and it can dramatically impact a team’s draft board.

Here’s Walters recently on that topic:

“It can 100 percent impact our draft ratings. You go through the draft build, we have all our meetings, we see all the guys we like on film and then Ted (Goveia, Assistant GM), Mike (O’Shea, head coach) and myself have been doing this for a while and we know the type of guys we like.

“The best compliment we can give a draft prospect is ‘he’s our type of guy’ which means it seems like he loves the game, he’s physical and tough. Then when these guys show up at these combines and they meet the athletic standards that are required, that’s the best. The other scenarios are when you really like a guy on film and he maybe doesn’t meet the height, weight standard and you go back and assess. Conversely, you get the guy who maybe didn’t pop out on film, and he kills at the combine.”

Further to the above…

The Blue Bombers’ current roster features 27 Canadians, including seven starters and 20 players who suited up for at least one game in 2023.

Of those 27 Canadians, 24 were drafted – running back Johnny Augustine, long-snapper Mike Benson, and defensive back Nico McCarthy, signed in mid-January, are the exceptions – with 19 of those drafted players selected by the Blue Bombers.

Winnipeg’s drafted players (round/selection/year) currently on the roster:

  • DT Jake Thomas (4-29-2012)
  • LB Shayne Gauthier (4-28-2016)
  • WR Drew Wolitarsky (2017 CFL Supplemental Draft; forfeited 2018 third-round pick)
  • RB Brady Oliveira (2-14-2019)
  • OL Tui Eli (4-34-2019)
  • DB Nick Hallett (7-61-2019)
  • DB Noah Hallett (2-18-2020)
  • LB Tanner Cadwallader (7-64-2020)
  • OL Liam Dobson (1-3-2021)
  • DB Redha Kramdi (2-16-2021)
  • CB Tyrell Ford (2-13-2022)
  • DE Anthony Bennett (1-8-2023)
  • DB Jake Kelly (2-15-2023)
  • WR Jeremy Murphy (3-26-2023)
  • DT Tanner Schmekel (4-35-2023)
  • DT Collin Kornelson (5-44-2023)
  • DB Bret MacDougall (6-53-2023)
  • RB/Rec Jonathan Rosery (7-62-2023)
  • LB Max Charbonneau (8-71-2023)

The others (team/round/selection/year)

  • OL Pat Neufeld (Sask-5-33-2010; acquired via trade)
  • SB Nic Demski (Sask-1-6-2015; free agent signing)
  • C Chris Kolankowski (Tor-6-49-2016; free agent signing)
  • DT Cam Lawson (Mtl-2-16-2020; acquired via trade)
  • LB Jared Beeksma (Ham-5-46-2022; free agent signing)

The Events


  • Medical testing and measurements


  • Vertical jump and bench press
  • 40-yard dash, 3-cone, L-drill and broad jump – Winnipeg Soccer Federation North, 6-9:30 p.m.


  • Practice, 10 a.m. – Winnipeg Soccer Federation North


  • Practice, 10 a.m. – Winnipeg Soccer Federation North


  • Practice, 10 a.m. – Winnipeg Soccer Federation North

**Fans Take Note

Fans who wish to take in the Thursday evening testing and the practices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday must register for free tickets here.

Live streaming of the bench press, 40-yard dash and Sunday’s practice session will be available through CFL+.