TORONTO -- Mike Kelly plops a ginormous binder emblazoned with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo onto a table and the sheer weight of the thing has the wooden legs seemingly screaming and ready to splinter.

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TORONTO -- Mike Kelly plops a ginormous binder emblazoned with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo onto a table and the sheer weight of the thing has the wooden legs seemingly screaming and ready to splinter.

It is the Bombers' Canadian Draft Evaluation Camp bible, the brainchild of the club's new head coach, and included among the hundreds of pages are the bios of the 50 prospects who will be tested on and off the field this weekend and forms to chart their progress in the drills. But for the first time in recent memory, the club's e-camp plan will include a detailed summary of how 20 of the prospects the Bombers have asked to speak to handle themselves in 15-minute interviews.

It's an idea Kelly has borrowed from his days in the NFL with Philadelphia and Washington that allows teams to get a snapshot of each prospect's personality. And while there are no deep psychiatrist-type questions like "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" Kelly is hoping the process will greatly benefit the Bombers.

"To me it's extremely important to find out how these guys might mesh in the locker-room," Kelly said. "If you've got a bunch of guys who have 'cocky' circled... I don't want a bunch of those guys. You've gotta have a few, but if you have too many then it becomes a clash. At the same time, if we're circling 'timid'... that's not very good. I'm not too interested in timid football players.

"I never understood those weird 'If you were a tree...' questions. Half the time when you ask those questions kids look at you with that deer-in-the-headlights expression. But this isn't going to be just 'Hey, how you doing? Do you have a girlfriend? What's your dog's name?' I want to know how they feel about themselves. What kind of background did they come from? Were they raised by solid people? Are going to be the kind of guy I can trust in the locker room because if I can trust them in the locker-room then I can trust them in the fourth quarter of a game.

"If there's a guy that you feel you always have to keep your eye on or he's sneaking around... how do you trust him when it's that time of the game when you need your guys the most to not panic and come through?

"We could watch tape and know what kind of football player they are, but I want to know what kind of people these guys are."

In many ways, the interview -- Kelly is so meticulous he has even mapped out where football operations director Ross Hodgkinson, GM John Murphy and draft co-ordinator Bob Dyce will sit during the proceedings -- also allows the Bombers to determine whether a player will fit in their locker-room.

"This is what made us good in Orlando in the XFL: we were a-hole light," he said. "That's what I want our locker- room to be: low on the guys who act like turds.

"But this isn't just about the kids we get this year, it's the impression we make on them for down the road... And if they walk out of our room thinking we are the most organized team in the CFL... then we've got a chance of getting them somewhere down the road."

BLUE NOTES: Kelly confirmed that the Bombers signed Canadian DB Nick Kordic, who had 11 special-teams tackles with Hamilton in '08... The club made official the return of LB Ike Charlton, reported by the media more than two weeks ago.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

 

Inside the Bombers draft bible

THE Free Press got a sneak peek at the Bombers' player-evaluation process, one that is used not only for the prospects at this weekend's E-Camp, but for every footballer who comes across their radar screen.

Here's how it works:

Players are evaluated on three separate cateories -- 1. Major factors: including football character, personal character, training habits, best assets, family background; 2. Talent: including position specifics like quickness, hands, etc. 3. Special teams: what a player brings to the kick return/coverage units.

Head coach Mike Kelly, GM John Murphy and position coaches then each assess a player's strengths, weaknesses and provide a summary.

The interview sheet includes a number of questions, including asking players who the most-influential person is in their life and their goals at the CFL level.

While the interview is underway, Bomber staff monitor how the prospect handles himself and are asked to circle which characteristics he portrays as part of his demeanor -- "outgoing," "upbeat," "confident," "nervous," "timid," "soft-spoken," "vocal," "receptive," "attentive," "cocky." They then rank their overall impressions under either "excellent," "good," "average," "poor."

Players are rated in all of the above categories and then assessed an overall grade from 1 to 9: 1-2 is a reject; 3-4 is a player who might make the practice roster and eventually contribute on special teams; 5-6 is a solid player; 7 is a player who will be a starter early in his career; 8 will be a CFL all-star and 9, to use Kelly's words is an "Oh my God!" type-player who will be a star.

 

-- Ed Tait