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CFL Combine Players That Should Draw Interest from Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks have all but finished picking up free agents, and turned their attention to the upcoming draft. Which combine stand outs should they take an interest in?

The Ottawa Redblacks have certainly made their fair share of moves to this point solidifying their roster prior to the CFL Draft coming up. However there is always room to improve, especially with an intriguing crop of players invited to the 2024 CFL Combine. The Redblacks perceivably still have needs in the secondary, running back, and no team can ever have too much talent on the offensive or defensive lines.

Running Back

At running back the Redblacks aren’t looking for a guy who is known for his elusiveness. They have a starting back in Devonte Williams who is arguably one of the best smaller agile backs in the CFL. However the Redblacks need a bigger back to pair with Williams to bring in for short yardage and goal line situations. They attempted to fill that need with Ante Milanovic-Litre in 2023, but injuries prevented him from having the impact they had hoped.

Michael Chris-Ike

Michael Chris-Ike is not known for his agility, or elusiveness, but that didn’t stop him from putting on a performance in the CFL combine that should put him squarely on every draft board in the league, and perhaps some in the U.S. At 6’1 225 pounds the former Delaware State player finished tied for the fastest time at 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, had a 35.5 inch vertical leap, and managed to put up 16 reps in the bench press. His most impressive number of the day may have been his 3-cone drill where he put up a 6.71, the fastest time of the event by .05 seconds. For a man that is 225 pounds to move like this is absurd at even the NFL level.

To put this into perspective Javonte Williams coming out of North Carolina ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, had a 36 inch vertical leap, 22 reps in the bench press, a 6.93 3-cone drill at 212 pounds and ended up a second round pick by the NFL’s Denver Broncos. Chris-Ike has all the tools to be a dominant CFL back especially paired with another player like Devonte Williams. While he wasn’t the star at Delaware State on the field production wise that you might expect, he still managed 4.3 yards per carry on his way to 486 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. More importantly he had 10 tackles during his 24 games played this could signal an immediate value on special teams, even more reason he could be a target. Ottawa should be drooling at the prospect of adding him to their roster.

Defensive Back

At Defensive back, Benjamin Labrosse did himself justice in his combine performance ranking among the top 3 prospects in several categories including 40-yard dash (tied 1st, 4.51), 3-cone drill (tied 2nd, 6.76), vertical leap (2nd, 38.5 inches), and broad jump (1st, 11′ 1 3/4″). He managed to finish 4th in the short shuttle with a 4.21, and didn’t place among the top performers in the bench press, although his 12 reps were far from terrible as a 6’0 189 pound defensive back. Labrosse has to have rocketed up draft boards with this performance.

Having made a name for himself at Vanier College putting together a resume littered with highlight reel plays, he found interest from Syracuse where he would begin his US college career. He would see reps at both cornerback, and safety which will only increase his value given what he showed with his combine performance. The two-time Vanier College Defensive MVP was also a Team Captain, and also graduated with a RSEQ Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018.

After a little over a full year with Syracuse he would leave the program and finish his collegiate career elsewhere after appearing in just 10 games producing 14 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss. The versatile defensive back saw snaps at cornerback, safety, as a rover, and on special teams despite the limited playing time. In the 2022 season he would play for McGill listed as a cornerback. This was statistically his best season since Vanier. He finished the season with 35 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 1 pass break up. He added value in other ways seeing 6 kick returns for 121 yards, 4 punt returns for 79 yards, and 1 carry for 14 yards.

Tyshon Blackburn

Blackburn out of Alberta put up impressive speed and agility numbers but struggled in the bench putting up only 2 reps..At 6’2 1/8 203 pounds, he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, 6.9 3-cone drill, and 4.44 shuttle. Blackburn not only looks the part at the combine, but he managed a solid showing at Alberta. Playing in 32 games in four seasons he was able to collect 100 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 12 pass deflections. As impressive as his work was in the testing, it was his performance in the 7 vs 7 drills that caught attention as seen below.

Defensive Line

Luke Brubacher

Luke Brubacher is an explosive athlete as a defensive lineman. Standing just shy of 6’6 at 246 pounds, Brubacher managed the 3rd highest vertical leap with 38 inches, as well as a 10’6″ broad jump which tied him for 4th. He was the only defensive lineman to be found on either of these two leader lists. He finished just outside the top 5 with a 4.34 short shuttle. His 7.06 3-cone drill may not have been the top number by any stretch, but it also was a respectable number that will not be viewed poorly.

Brubacher has displayed he has that “get off” or first step that coaches search for first and foremost in pass rushers. This fact alone should lead to him seeing a lot of interest from teams looking to add youth, or depth with high upside to their lineup. The scary thing about Brubacher is he is just now scratching the surface of what he can do as a football player. Brubacher joined his university football team having never played the sport before. He had participated in boxing, and the third year student had a training regimen that forced the coaches to take notice.

Having studied physical education, and kinesiology he was still only 21 years old and joined the team early enough to keep his professional hopes alive. To his credit Brubacher knew he was a longshot to make the team, and had already prepared himself to be nothing more than a depth player as he learned the game in year one. Wilfried-Laurier had different plans, and he would see immediate playing time. The Redblacks like their pass rushers lean and explosive and Brubacher could fit that need perfectly as a role player/developmental piece behind Mauldin IV, and Carter.

Tyson Hergott

Waterloo may have another high draft pick coming soon in Tyson Hergott. He has all the production, and performance in the combine drills, to turn heads. Now it’s time to see if he can transition to the professional level. As a senior in 2023, Hergott managed 53 tackles, 13.5 for a loss, 11 sacks, 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 recovery.

Hergott measured at 6’2 3/8 247 pounds, ran a 4.85 with a 7.33 3-cone drill, and 4.63 shuttle. He put up 19 reps in the bench press, 8 foot 11 inch broad jump, and a 34 inch vertical. He also joined Coach Phil to talk about his career and his future in the CFL.


My first player on this list is actually listed at the combine as a defensive back. However depending where you look he’s been listed as a safety and a linebacker. 

Pierre Dawson stands just over 6’1 and weighs in 219 pounds. However he ran a respectable 4.77 40-yard dash, put up 16 reps in the bench press, and had a 7 second 3-cone drill. Ironically this isn’t the first time Dawson has worked out in front of CFL personnel as he attended Buffalo’s pro day in hopes of attracting NFL attention. Whoever is advising Dawson clearly is doing everything they can to ensure he ends up on a roster by the end of April. If the Redblacks are looking for another player like this and Dawson is off the board already they could look at:

Daniel Bell, standing 6’1 3/8 and 218 pounds, he is another defensive back that could have to make a move to linebacker in the CFL. He didn’t impress in the 40, but a move to linebacker could showcase his agility, which is on par with some elite defensive backs. He ran a 6.87 3-cone drill, and a 4.25 shuttle. His strength certainly left some concerns in his potential at linebacker, and he will need to work on this to truly convert to linebacker.

Joel Dublanko, is the man in this draft class that everyone wants to talk about because of his somewhat unique, status as a professional football veteran, about to be selected as a CFL rookie. However Dublanko knew he would have eyes on him and the man came prepared. In 2022 at his Cincinnati pro-day he weighed in at 243 pounds he ran a 4.76 40-yard dash, a 7.22 3-cone drill, and a 4.40 20-yard shuttle.

At the CFL combine however he showed up 12 pounds lighter, and much quicker and more agile. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, a 6.84 3-cone drill, and a 4.27 20-yard shuttle. He certainly looks like he came prepared to play linebacker, and not defensive end, which he theoretically could have leaned into.

Wide Receiver

There was one wide receiver that caught everyone’s eye when he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash good for the 3rd fastest time in the combine, Frederik Antoine. On top of that he measured in at just over 6 feet tall, and 213 pounds. Where he really set himself apart was the bench press. He finished tenth overall with 21 repetitions, only one other player that didn’t play on the offensive or defensive line broke the top ten, and he’s a tight end/fullback who is 6’3 245 pounds. 

This is important because he should be able to use this strength to not only beat press coverage but also block, or get off blocks on special teams. He also managed a 36 inch vertical. He did not participate in the 3-cone drill. He was one of three Laval players in the top 11 at the combine in the bench press, almost makes you wonder what they’re putting  in the water there. 

Ironically if you’re looking at wide receivers you’ll probably also notice Antoine’s university teammate Kevin Mital. 

Kevin Mital

Kevin Mital is another physical specimen from Laval. Finishing just one rep below Antoine in the bench, just 1 inch shorter in the vertical, and .05 seconds slower in the 40 yard dash, but doing so weighing 16 pounds heavier. I’m no expert but I think if Mital shed 16 lbs he would likely run just as fast and leap just as high as Antoine. 

Playing in 8 games Mital had 4 carries for 25 yards, and 58 receptions for 751 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led the team in receptions, over doubling second place. (23 receptions, 428 yards and 3 touchdowns) He finished the season as the team leader for any non-QB in total offense and scoring. He looks like a future star in the CFL. 

Another Name to Know

Although I don’t necessarily expect the Redblacks to bring in another quarterback, one name to watch in this draft class is Casey Bauman. At 6’6 3/8 229 lbs he ran a 4.86 40-yard dash, 7.2 3-cone drill, and 4.33 20-yard shuttle. He attended Montana State primarily as a backup for three years before transferring to Augustana University where he got the chance to start. He started 21 games attempting 536 passes completing 327.  He collected 4,160 yards, 43 touchdowns, 16 interceptions. He also displayed enough ability to be a short yardage option rushing 181 times for 572 yards and 6 touchdowns. He could be an interesting option for teams. 

The Redblacks have done a great job of building their roster in free agency allowing them to pursue the best player available in the 2024 Draft processes. With so many intriguing players available this season there are many directions they could look in 2024.

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@SamShadySports Reporter
I began writing years ago out of an obsession with the NFL. I never intended to take it anywhere but after watching so many others succeed as freelance writers I decided it was worth a shot. I jumped I and have loved every minute of it. I have expanded my content to include YouTube, as well as Twitter Spaces, SoundCloud, and should be launching on Amazon Podcasts soon.
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