Coming off a football season where the team missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four years, with the second overall pick in the upcoming CFL draft, it is fair to say the Winnipeg Blue Bombers need to get this one right.
There are four players Bombers brass should be focused on: offensive lineman Matt Sewell and defensive linemen Linden Gaydosh, Stefan Charles and Ben D'Aguilar.
I would anoint them the Fantastic Four, but you have to earn your stripes in this column.
Selecting one of these projects is a consideration of not only their performance at the combine this past weekend but their game film as well as their potential to sign with the NFL.
Based solely on their measurables from the combine and the analysis of the football personnel that studied these players, it's easy to put together a cheat sheet for you on what they do and don't bring to the table.
Sewell is the biggest of the bunch at 6-8, 335 pounds. With only 17 repetitions on the bench press, though, a 40 time of almost 5.5 seconds and no indications of explosiveness in the vertical or broad jump, he literally and figuratively does not jump off the page as a player that fills an immediate need for the Bombers.
While selecting the No. 1-rated hoggie in the draft is always a safe pick and a high-percentage move, this team is already bringing along a number of young and green offensive linemen, and his selection would seem to be more of the same.
Under serious scrutiny and consideration by any team with a top-three pick in the draft are the two interior defensive tackles, Gaydosh and Charles.
According to TSN's Duane Ford, Charles has bonafide NFL potential, and if you look at his numbers, some of them are freakish enough to warrant such interest. He is either 6-4 or 6-5 and is listed at both 310 and 324 pounds.
Without having seen him play, the thing that will make this player attractive to the NFL is his mutant explosiveness. The fact that he tested a 37-inch vertical at this weight is the kind of statistic that makes scouts do silly things and blinds them to other things, which will be necessary at his current level of development. With only 15 repetitions in the bench press and a slow 40 time of 5.3, his one-on-one drills and game tape will have to cement his candidacy as an NFL flyer pick.
According to many sources, the most-impressive player this weekend was Gaydosh, and he does not appear to have many holes in his resumé. Once again, you can find him listed anywhere from 290 to 314, at either 6-3 or 6-4, and his numbers were fitting of what your expectations would be for a top-rated interior player. With 36 bench reps and a 33.5-inch vertical, he is well-balanced physically and he raised eyebrows in the most-important measurable of the weekend, the football part.
The only detraction with selecting either him or Charles is the risk you may have to wait on the NFL indefinitely to see a return on your investment. With the size these two candidates have put on and their relatively unimpressive 40 times, it is easy to see they are gearing up for NFL evaluations, where shear size and strength in the middle is emphasized far more than the running rigours of the CFL.
It is important to note, though, as defensive linemen, their 10-yard splits in their 40-yard dashes, which were not posted, are more telling of their speed relevant to the position.
Which leaves us with D'Aguilar, the player who won the top lineman award in the CIS last year and who Ford considers "the most athletic lineman in the draft."
At 6-2 and 240 pounds, the McMaster Marauders product is an undersized defensive end who would be considered a tweener in the NFL (a player that is in between positions).
Undersized and athletic are key components of the CFL and two adjectives that fit the kind of defence run by the Bombers.
With good speed for an edge player (4.7, 40) and a solid 21 reps on the bench, with over a month to go to the draft, he would seem to be the smart bet for a team that needs another non-import difference maker, sooner rather than later.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.