TORONTO - Linden Gaydosh showed Sunday why he's a top prospect for this year's CFL draft.
The six-foot-four, 290-pound Calgary Dinos defensive lineman was virtually unstoppable in 1-on-1 drills at Varsity Stadium on the final day of the CFL combine. His dominant on-field performance came a day after finishing second overall in the bench press (personal-best 36 reps) and posting a solid 33.5-inch vertical jump.
Much was expected this weekend from the native of Peace River, Alta., who finished the season ranked No. 3 on the CFL scouting bureau's list of top-15 prospects for the league's May 6 draft. Gaydosh more than delivered as his performance Sunday had people buzzing.
"I was ecstatic . . . everything went the way I planned," said Canadian university football's top rookie in 2009. "I showed the best stuff I had and hopefully that's what they (CFL officials in attendance) wanted."
Jim Barker, the general manager of the Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts, said Gaydosh solidified his status as one of the top draft-eligible players.
"He's what was advertised, a very physical guy," Barker said. "He showed why he's one of the top players in this draft.
"That's what this does a lot of times, it kind of separates the top guys from the not so top guys."
Gaydosh certainly moved into the conversation of potential favourites to be taken first overall in this year's draft. Other candidates include McMaster offensive lineman Matt Sewell and Regina Rams defensive tackle Stefan Charles but there's no doubt in Gaydosh's mind he improved his draft stock this weekend.
"I feel I did quite a bit," he said. "Any doubt someone had I felt it should be washed away now."
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats hold the No. 1 pick and fortunately have the luxury of time. With Sewell and Charles both garnering interest sound of the border exactly who the Ticats take first overall should become clearer following next month's NFL draft.
Gaydosh has sent game film to NFL clubs and earlier this month participated in an NFL regional combine in Tampa. However, he said he has yet to speak to any American-based clubs.
Kent Austin, Hamilton's head coach and GM, said he'd be open to discussing potential offers for the top pick so long as they'd benefit the Ticats. But when asked about Gaydosh, Austin had nothing but praise for him.
"Big, strong, he's powerful," Austin said. "He has really good feet and movement skills for his size.
"A good football player."
The six-foot-five, 324-pound Charles, a native of Oshawa, Ont., was also a standout Sunday, impressing with his power and strength on the pass rush. It came after an opening day with mixed test results for the fourth-ranked draft prospect who had just 15 reps in the bench press but rallied to post a solid 37-inch vertical.
There's definite NFL interest in Charles, who participated in the Tampa Bay combine and has been invited along with McMaster defensive end Ben D'Aguilar to the league's super regional combine in Dallas next month. Charles is looking to become the second Rams player to go to the NFL after the New Orleans drafted defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in the third round last year.
"It's a blessing but it's a lot," Charles said. "Hopefully I can get into actual football training soon, enough of this combine stuff."
Added Barker: "He's so big. I thought in his 1-on-1s he was so dominating. I'm not sure he's in the kind of shape he wants to be in but he's one of the top guys at this thing and he showed it."
The six-foot-eight, 335-pound Sewell came in as the player to watch. He ended the season as the No. 2 draft prospect behind Oregon linebacker Bo Lokombo, who didn't attend the combine.
After posting rather ordinary test results Saturday — 17 reps in bench, 28-inch vertical jump — Sewell showed the athleticism and quick feet in individual drills Sunday that scouts have marvelled about. However the native of Milton, Ont., did have trouble 1-on-1 with Gaydosh and Charles.
"I wasn't too happy with it but I wasn't too upset about it," Sewell said of his performance in the pass-protection drills. "Just average.
"They (combine results) were all right. I wasn't expecting to jump off the board with my test results. I just wanted to get a couple of personal bests and was about there and happy with them."
Barker wasn't fazed by Sewell's results at the combine.
"He's one of the top players in this draft," he said. "He moves very well, he has a lot of skill."
Concordia defensive back/kick returner Kristopher Robertson proved to be the surprise player of the combine. The five-foot-eight, 185-pound native of Pickering, Ont., posted the top 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds after recording the best vertical (43 inches) and broad jump (10 feet 5.5 inches) among the 55 participants Saturday.
Heady stuff, considering Robertson wasn't originally invited to the combine. He had to qualify for it with a strong performance at a regional event last week in Quebec City and arrived eager to prove he belonged.
"I have a chip on my shoulder," he said. "Obviously I wasn't voted in so I had to prove myself.
"I think I showed I have pretty decent numbers, I did well on the 1-on-1s and drills . . . the rest is in (CFL officials') hands."