Scouts size up best CFL prospects in Vanier Cup

Mercer Timmis led the CIS in rushing this season. Could he someday lead the CFL? (Photo: Larry MacDougal/CP)

Oodles of pro prospects will be on the field for the 49th Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Saturday, and that fact will be reflected by the more-than-healthy number of Canadian Football League scouts in the stands.

Both Calgary and Laval are loaded with players who possess the type of talent required to play professional football, but there are a select few who currently stand out above the rest. Regardless of draft year, I have sourced scouts from around the CFL and put together a list of the top five prospects that will pad up at Telus Stadium. Here’s what the scouts have to say.

1) Pierre Lavertu, 6-foot-3, 300 lb., OL, Laval
Draft year: 2014

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Scouts’ take: He plays an important position at centre, has a good base and keeps his pad level low. Lavertu wins at the point of attack, plays physical and is a factor in the run game. He has a good frame for an interior position in the CFL—which is where he would project. He’s probably going to go in the first round and be the type of guy who plays 10-plus years in the CFL. Lavertu is a cross between other Laval products Dominic Picard and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain. He’s strong and has all the leadership skills you want at the centre position. He can make all the protection calls at the line of scrimmage.

2) Mercer Timmis, 6-foot-1, 210 lb., RB, Calgary
Draft year: 2016

Scouts’ take: Timmis is one of the better CIS running backs over the past few years. He possesses the size, strength and athleticism that could translate to success at the next level. Reminds some of Jesse Lumsden and is even a little more elusive than Lumsden, but he runs a little high. He needs to work on ball security and improve his top-end speed. But he has tons of potential. Physically he’s not even fully peaked—he’s still got room for gains in his upper body and is still raw in pass protection and as a receiver. He has another gear to him that former Dinos’ running backs Steven Lumbala and Matt Walter didn’t have. Timmis is pretty special. His great grandfather is Brian Timmis, a Canadian Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman.

3) Brett Blaszko, 6-foot-4, 205 lb., REC, Calgary
Draft year: 2016

Scouts’ take: Tall, physical receiver who has a knack for making plays. He shows tremendous upside and deceptive speed. Health was a bit of an issue this year, but not an overwhelming concern. Great build for a CFL slotback. He has a little bit of Andy Fantuz to him—maybe even a cross between Fantuz and Chris Getzlaf. He’s going to be bigger, stronger and faster than Fantuz and Getzlaf. But he has similar ball skills to Fantuz.

4) Charles Vaillancourt, 6-foot-4, 325 lb., OL, Laval
Draft year: 2016

Scouts’ take: Enormous man who can maul in the run game, but is also nimble enough to move in a zone-blocking scheme. He’s similar to Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Peter Dyaskowski in terms of body type and how they move, but Vaillancourt probably moves better. Physical mauler type of lineman, but he has athleticism to him and can get up to the second level. Great frame on him to play at the CFL level.

5) Rashaun Simonise, 6-foot-5, 190 lb., REC, Calgary
Draft year: 2017

Scouts’ take: He’s different—there is no one to really compare him to in the CFL. He’s very long, runs well and has great body control for a player his size. Simonise is elusive for a big, rangy guy. He needs to get stronger and fill out, but has a bright future. Think of him as [Baltimore Ravens returner and receiver] Jacoby Jones lite. He’s similar to Jones in terms of length, movement skills and how elusive he is at his size.

Others to keep an eye on:

Phillipe Gagnon, 6-foot-8, 295 lb., OL, Laval
Draft year: 2015

Scouts’ take: A very athletic guard who moves well and plays physical. He has great size. Needs some technique work, but has all the tools CFL teams look for in an offensive lineman. Scouts will watch closely his progression next year.

Jake Harty, 6-foot-2, 215 lb., REC, Calgary
Draft year: 2015

Scouts’ take: A receiver who does everything asked. An excellent special teams player and a physical blocker. Harty runs excellent short and intermediate routes, has good hands and runs well after the catch. Not sure of his top-end speed, but he’s fast enough. He has a tough time staying on the field, partly because he takes a beating inside—he’s been hung out to dry on some throws. Harty has some similarities to Dinos alum and Eskimos receiver Nathan Coehoorn. Harty is a little more fluid, but physically not as strong.

Brandon Tennant, 6-foot-2, 295 lb., DL, Laval
Draft year: 2015

Scouts’ take: He’s similar to Ticats defensive lineman Brian Bulcke. Tennant is pretty athletic, good motor, great get-off, strong kid and has the size you look for in a CFL lineman. He could have played in the NCAA.

Elie Bouka, 6-foot-1, 200 lb., DB, Calgary
Draft year: 2016

Scouts’ take: Impressive, long and can run. He’s a legit low-4.5, high-4.4 40-yard-dash kind of kid. Bouka is very raw at the defensive back position having just moved over to defence this season. If he continues to develop he can play DB in the CFL. Bouka hasn’t scratched the surface of his talent and can only get better.

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