Calgary Dinos receiver Simonise works out for NFL clubs at pro day

By The Canadian Press
July 11, 2016 - 7:19pm

Now the waiting begins for Rashaun Simonise.

The Calgary Dinos receiver held his pro day Monday in preparation for the NFL supplemental draft on Thursday. With the audition complete, all the six-foot-five, 190-pound Vancouver native can do now is hope he did enough to earn an opportunity south of the border, either as a draftee or undrafted free agent.

Although his football future remains very uncertain, Simonise was relieved his pro day was over.

"I feel there's been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders," he said via telephone from Calgary. "I feel like I gave everything to this process.

"If I get picked up by a team that would be blessing and if not, I'll just get back to work and keep going after my dream."

Simonise worked out before scouts representing six NFL teams — New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts. The Calgary Stampeders were the only CFL team on hand.

Simonise posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.52 seconds in windy conditions at McMahon Stadium but has registered a laser-timed effort of 4.42 seconds. He also had a 35-inch vertical, broad jump of 10 feet three inches and eight reps in the 225-pound bench press while also going through agility and route-running drills.

Simonise had 51 catches for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight games to earn All-Canadian honours last season. But Canada West's top rookie in 2013 was ruled academically ineligible for the 2016 campaign, prompting Simonise to pursue an NFL career.

"Honestly I thought it went pretty well," Simonise said. "I felt like the receiver drills went well and I had fun with it.

"I have to work on my blocking, getting out of my routes and also attacking the football. Being a six-foot-five guy if I attack the ball with the mentality that it's my ball and no one else's, I feel like there will be nobody who could stop me."

Simonise will be one of six players eligible for the supplemental draft. The others include Ole Miss cornerback Tee Shepard; Concordia College Alabama defensive lineman Cameron Walton; Virginia Tech long-snapper Eddie D'Antuono; Purdue defensive lineman Ra'Zahn Howard; and Sam Houston State running back Jalen Overstreet.

Teams taking a player in the supplemental draft lose a pick in the corresponding round of the 2017 NFL draft. Last year only one player, Clemson offensive lineman Isaiah Battle, went in the supplemental draft, going in the fifth round to the Rams.

Battle was the first player selected in the supplemental draft since 2012, when the Cleveland Browns used a second-round pick on Baylor receiver Josh Gordon. Since 2000, only 12 players have been taken in the draft.

Simonise faces a big challenge making the jump from the CIS to the NFL but remains unfazed.

"I feel like my work ethic and hunger to learn definitely set me apart from athletes in Canada as well as the U.S.," he said. "If I'm given an opportunity I feel like I can really show on the field I'm meant to play in the NFL."

Calgary has never had a player drafted into the NFL but has been represented south of the border.

Defensive back Elie Bouka is currently with Arizona after signing there as a free agent in April. Offensive lineman Dan Federkeil — currently with the Stampeders — earned a Super Bowl ring with Indianapolis in 2006 while defensive tackle Lynden Gaydosh, taken first overall in the '13 CFL draft by Hamilton, spent time on the Carolina Panthers' practice roster before joining the Ticats in 2014.

If the NFL doesn't come calling, Simonise will still have a shot at a pro career. He's eligible for the 2017 CFL draft.

"The CFL is definitely a very strong option for me," he said. "If the NFL wasn't to work out this season I'd get back to work and better myself as a football player and get ready for next season.

"I feel I'd be ready for that moment and put my all into that process. I hope it doesn't come to that but if it does, just know I will give it my all."

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

©2016 The Canadian Press

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