author: brady lang | sports writer
Ram athlete readies himself for professional football
The Regina Rams program has always been a large export in receivers when it comes to the professional ranks, and when it comes to 2017, there’s nothing different.
Rams’ fourth-year slotback Mitchell Picton has been invited to both the CFL combine at the end of March in Regina during CFL Week, as well as a regional NFL combine in Minneapolis. After being ranked twentieth in the country, Picton says that he knew that there was still work to do this offseason.
“Working with the quarterbacks and receivers with the Rams doing skill work to be ready for one-on-ones and other positional drills at the combine”, says Picton when asked about his focus during preparation, “and also doing speed and strength training with Levi Steinhauer to get ready for the testing aspects at the combine.”
When it comes down to it, Picton is one of the hardest working Rams on the team, yet there are a lot of factors that pushed him to the All-Canadian calibre of football that he played last season.
“I would say in the coaching staff, Mark McConkey really pushed me to be better,” says Picton. “He gave me great opportunities to be successful and always was helping me find ways to be a better player. I would say all the receivers pushed me as well, guys like Riley Wilson and Ryan Schienbein as we all push each other every day in practice to be better. Also Noah Picton pushes me lots in order to be successful as an offence.”
The entire combine process was also pretty eye opening for Picton. While going through and hiring an agent, Picton was told about the NFL combine that he felt as though he should attend.
“The CFL national combine was strictly invitational based”, says Picton, “[When it comes to] the NFL combine, my agent called me and said he thinks I should be going to the NFL regional in Minneapolis, so we went through the application process of sending them my game film etc., then they do a background check for about two weeks, and then I was approved and accepted.”
Picton knows that the road to professional leagues will be tough, though he definitely has history on his side. The Rams have been producing talent at a rapid pace over the past few years, not just in the CFL, but also the NFL. The Rams right now have four current players playing in the NFL in Seattle’s John Ryan, Chicago’s Akeem Hicks, Detroit’s Stefan Charles and the New York Giants’ Brett Jones. When it comes to the CFL, the Riders’ have Tevaughn Campbell, Jorgen Hus and Brendon LaBatte, while Edmonton still has longtime Rider Chris Getzlaf as well as Winnipeg’s Addison Richards. With the Rams producing so much talent, Picton feels confident that he’ll get a shot in the pros.
“I definitely feel like guys that have went on to play pro from the Rams is a testament to the coaching staff and players that we have here,” says Picton, “I feel confident in my game at the pro level, and that is because I feel I have learned from some of the best players and coaches in Canada. Guys like Landon Buch, Jared Janotta, and Mark McConkey are guys I played with early in my career, who really taught me a lot of what you see in my game now.”
When asked if Picton models his game around one particular player, it wasn’t a current player that came to his mind, but a former CFL legend instead.
“Not current, but Jason Clermont is a guy I try to model my game after,” Picton commented, “Very good well rounded player. Big physical receiver that is also a big playmaker for his team, [who] catches the tough balls.”
When asked if there was any particular local professional team that Picton would be excited to go to, his answer was humbling and showed the true professionalism for the LeBoldus product.
“It would be great to be drafted by the Riders, but overall I will be thrilled about any team that would draft me, giving me a chance to live my dream and play professional football.”
The CFL combine is set for March 20-26 in Regina, during the inaugural CFL Week held at Evraz place. Whoever is lucky enough to pick Picton up after such an incredible year will be lucky, as the sky seems to be the limit for the Regina product.