Each year before their main player draft, the CFL hosts its first 4-round Global Draft to fill out their rosters with international talent. This is an exciting day for international football as a whole, as it represents a global crossroads in the game.
As our own Josh Davis pointed out, the Global Draft could be a major point of interest for Dany & The Rock and their international vision for the XFL. Previously the CFL held regional drafts in Mexico and Europe, but this is the first-ever global draft in league history.
In the 2021 Draft, we saw players from all corners of the world picked. From Chile to China, Nigeria to the Bahamas, the CFL bolstered its ranks with a diverse and promising 2021 class.
The CFL’s draft tracker has everyone listed by round, but here we’ll look at each team’s haul, and how this affects their standing going into the continental 2021 Draft. BC had the first overall pick in the draft, and they follow a snake format to ensure more even and fair dispersal of talent.
Round 1: P Jake Ford – Australia
Round 2: DL Bo Qiao Li – China
Round 3: K Takeru Yamasaki – Japan
Round 4: DL Niklas Gustav – Germany
With the first pick in the draft, the Lions took Punter Jake Ford. The Australian native has a booming leg, and is deadly at pinning opponents close inside the 20 yard line. In his junior year at Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas, he punted 51 times and 26 of them put the other team behind the 20. If he can replicate that at the next level, the Lions could use him to win the battle of field position. The Lions only have one other young punter on the roster, but it’s looking like they believe Ford can win the job.
They continued to fill out their special teams unit with Takeru Yamaski out of Japan. He made waves in the X-League with the Elecom Kobe Fines, and won Most Impressive Player in The Spring League in 2019, after nailing 57 and 58 yarders. He also faces a 1v1 camp battle for the position versus the 2nd year Gregory Hutchins, who has yet to kick in a regular season game.
After finding answers in their special teams group, BC picked up two defensive linemen to strengthen the trenches. The Chinese-born Bo Qiao Li played linebacker for Charleston University, and has played in the Arena Football League and Chinese Arena Football Leagues. At 6’3″ 270 he should fit in as an OLB/DE. German-born Niklas Gustav was a disruptive pass-rusher for the Morningside Mustangs in college, racking up 8.5 sacks and 15.5 tfl last season. This influx of talent should help a defense that tied for second to last in sacks in the 2019 season.
Edmonton Football Team
Round 1: OL Steven Nielsen – Denmark
Round 2: DL Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei – New Zealand
Round 3: DL Tibo Debaille – Belgium
Round 4: DE Matt Leo – Australia
Edmonton invested early and often in their trenches today. With 3 DL picks and an offensive lineman in the first round, they brought in some heavies. Steven Nielsen has fantastic length at tackle with a 6’8″, 307 pound frame, played all over the line at Eastern Michigan and was an UDFA with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019. He projects as a right tackle early on.
Their trio of defensive linemen bring an interesting mix of talent to the table here as well. Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei played nose tackle at Washington State, but figures as a 3-technique DE at the next level. Tibo Debaille also figures as an interior lineman, and made a name for himself at Towson after winning the Belgian Championship in High School as Defensive MVP. Matt Leo has incredible length at 6’8″ 280, and could be a great edge-setting DE to swallow up ball carriers at the edges of the line. Though Edmonton led the league in sacks last year, bringing in options was a great move.
Round 1: DB Tigie Sankoh – Great Britain
Round 2: K Toshiki Sato – Japan
Round 4: P Max Duffy – Australia
Round 4: WR Sammis Reyes – Chile
The Argos picked up a promising young DB prospect in the first round. Sankoh spent his high school years playing for semi-professional football teams around London and ended up with the British American Football League before signing on with the Cleveland Browns in 2018-19.
They also buffed both positions in their special teams room. Toshiki Sato made a name for himself in Japan’s X-League after nailing a 58 yarder FG for the league record. Max Duffy was the #1 punting prospect of the 2018 class, and in two years since at Kentucky, was First and Second Team All-SEC. With a career 45.5 Yards/Punt and a long of 70 yards, he’s got a cannon.
Sammy Reyes a is 6’6″, 260 pound former basketball player and was a member of the NFL’s International Pathway Program before joining the CFL Draft Pool. At his size, he offers upside as a huge tight end, but will have to develop his route tree after just playing high school ball.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Round 1: LB Les Maruo – Japan
Round 2: OL Tomoya Machino – Japan
Round 3: LB Ayo Oyelola – Great Britain
Round 4: P Arryn Siposs- Australia
The reigning champs dipped twice into the Japanese talent pool. Linebacker Les Maruo moved to Kansas as a kid, played high school ball, took the JUCO route and transferred to play for the University of Texas-San Antonio. He became an integral part of their defense and flashed disruptive, pass coverage and run stopping abilities there. He played in X-League back home in Japan and will now look to stabilize a defensive front that allowed the most rushing yards in the CFL back in 2019.
Tomoya Machino impressed CFL scouts last spring, as he displayed fantastic agility for his size (6’5″ 299) by having the best shuttle time of any offensive lineman. He played left tackle at Kyoto University for 4 years, after Toronto lost their starting LT Randy Richards to Edmonton, Machino could be an interesting name in that potential camp battle.
The Nigerian-born Ayo Oyelola grew up in the UK, and got into football at Loughborough College, before catching the eye of pro scouts. He has tantalizing measurables for coaches to work with, and his 6’5″, 265 pound frame and 7 foot wingspan could make him a deadly force on the defensive side, cherrypicking passes over the middle.
Punter Arryn Siposs had actually signed a reserve/futures deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, but perhaps felt he had a better shot to play in Canada. The former Aussie rules footballer played 2 years at Auburn and finished with an average of 44.0 Yards/Punt, and 33 In20 on 60 attempts.
Round 1: RB Christopher Ezeala – Germany
Round 2: P Kaare Vedvik – Norway
Round 3: K John Henry Nell – South Africa
Round 4: WR Sebastien Sagne – Finland
Christopher Ezeala is built like a Panzer at 5’11”, 249 and spent 2018 and 2019 with the Baltimore Ravens as a Fullback. Sasketchewan already has Albert Awachie on the roster, but Ezeala could carve out a role for himself with his bruising style.
The Roughriders brought in some competition in their special teams room as well. Norwegian Punter/Kicker Kaare Vedvik made headlines with a 92 yard punt at Marshall in 2017, and is a versatile piece who can handle punk, kickoff and placekicking duties. After time with the Ravens, Vikings, Jets, Bengals, Bills and Panthers, he will compete with 39-year old veteran Jon Ryan. South African kicker Henry Nell, a former rugby player has been plying his trade in Arena football, and could compete behind Brett Lauther.
Sebastien Sagne is an interesting target for Cody Fajardo, as he was one of Europe’s premiere wideouts in the GFL and Finland Maple League. He was previously with the Helsinki 69ers, and has 5,406 yards with 69 TD’s in his career. I like this guy.
Round 1: P Joseph Zema – Australia
Round 2: LB Akio Yamagishi – Japan
Round 3: RB Taku Lee – Japan
Round 4: DB William James – Sweden
Joe Zema is yet another quality Australian prospect at punter, who came over and adapted to the North American game. He had an average 46.7 Yards/Punt at Incarnate Word and played for the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF, where he posted 45.8 Yards/Punt. Montreal currently has 3 Kickers on the roster and 2 of those are K/P, but as a dedicated punter Zema could win the job.
Montreal took two exciting Japanese prospects in Yamagishi and Lee. Yamagishi was College Football Player of the Year in Japan back in 2016, and played in the X-League, winning 6 straight Rice Bowls with the Fujitsu Frontier. I could see him as a safety/halfback/linebacker hybrid in Canada, with good instincts in coverage alongside the ability to stuff the run in the box.
Taku Lee recently came across our radar from his time with TSL, and the X-League running back has a great combination of size and burst. At 6’1″ 205, he could become a valuable part of the rotation behind William Stanbeck.
William James played in leagues around Europe and Australia after playing safety at North Dakota. There he was particularly a force in the box, with 94 tackles, 2.5 for loss, a sack and 2 forced fumbles.
Round 1: P Cody Grace – Australia
Round 2: DL Franklin Agbasimere – Nigeria
Round 3: LB Aaron Donkor – Germany
Round 3: OL Isaac Alarcon – Mexico
Cody Grace was the 3rd Australian punter taken in the 1st round, and his time in American football started at Arkansas State. From 2017-2019 he had an average of 42.1 Yards/Punt with a long of 75 and 75 In20. He’ll compete with fellow youngster and St. Francis Xavier grad Keiran Burnham for the job.
Mizzou has long produced good pass-rushing prospects, and it was there that Franklin Agbasimere got his start. He moved to America on an athletic scholarship in high school, and has began his playing days at Montverde Academy in Florida. At Mizzou, he grew in each year, earning more playing time and finishing with 26 games played, 10 tackles, 3 TFL and a sack. He’s still a bit of a raw recruit but with his speed, he could develop into a quality edge rusher.
Donkor was born in Germany, and was teammates with Grace at Arkansas State. He took the JUCO route to get there, and had 12.5 sacks at New Mexico Military Academy before registering 25 Tackles for the Redwolves. At the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program’s international combine, he clocked a 4.46 40 yard dash at 6’2″, 240 pounds. Those are elite traits at any level of football, and he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
They traded up into the 3rd round again, taking tackle Isaac Alarcon. At 6’6″ 320 he’s built perfectly for the position, and was a Dallas Cowboy for the 2020 season. He also made a name for himself playing ball in Mexico, winning a bronze medal with the Mexican national team in the Under-19 World Championship and a College Football National Championship with the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. With spots on Calgary’s line potentially up for grabs, he’s an interesting prospect on either side.
Round 1: P Joel Whitford – Australia
Round 2: DL Chris Mulumba – Finland
Round 3: LB David Izinyon – Great Britain
Round 4: K Dominik Eberle – Germany
Whitford was the 4th of 4 Aussie punters gone in the first round, and his time in the Pac-12 with Washington was rock solid. With an average of 43.0 a long of 67 and 41/119 In20, he’s well positioned to take over the job in Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats have no other punters on the roster and Whitford is a great candidate to be their guy.
Born in Helsinki, Chris Mulumba was a three time champion and black belt in Judo in high school. He first played football for the Helsinki Roosters and trained as a scout in the Finnish Army before moving to America. He played JUCO ball at Diablo Valley College before transferring to CU Boulder. With the Buffs, he logged 55 tackles, 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. With great size (6’4″ 285) he could become a valuable force in the middle for Calgary.
Izinyon played rugby growing up, and picked up football at the University of Surrery in England. He played in pro leagues in England, Finland, Germany and Poland. His time in the GFL brought him attention as he made 272 tackles in 2 years there, and he’ll hope to replicate that success in Canada.
The Nuremberg native played 4 years at Utah State, Making 64/81 FG with a long of 52. He also handled kickoff duties and should compete with Monmouth grad Matthew White for the kicker spot in Hamilton.
Round 1: WR Anthony Mahoungou – France
Round 2: LB Tyron Vrede – Netherlands
Round 3: OL Christopher Ferguson – Bahamas
Round 4: DB Tony Anderson – France
Ottawa filled out spots all around the roster here. Mahoungou is an intriguing WR prospect. With a 6’3″, 215 pound frame and 4.5 speed, he’s got the ideal physical tools, and proved himself both at Purdue and in Frankfurt with the GFL’s Galaxy after some time with the Philadelphia Eagles, the CFL is his next step.
Tyron Vrede is a player who seems tailor-made for the CFL, with the size and athleticism to keep up at linebacker. He’s got good movement and agility to strafe sideline-to-sideline, and proved himself a disruptive defender in the box at North Dakota. With 56 tackles, 10 for loss and 3.5 sacks, he’s a threat to make a play any given down, and should help Ottawa patch up the middle of their defense.
The Redblacks seem to be looking for answers at tackle, and despite the acquisition of American players Na’ty Rodgers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Ferguson could have a shot here. At Cincinnati, he spent 4 years on the bench before exploding in 2018 with 13 starts at right tackle. He was then named team captain and started 12 games his senior year and was a rock solid force across the line. At 6’5″ 315 he has the right build and has shown fantastic growth as a player since picking up football senior year in high school.
Tony Anderson has incredible length for a corner, at 6’4″, 215 pounds. He played college ball at Santa Barbara city college and Grand View and joined the Colts and Rams for their rookie minicamps, though he was held back by a knee injury. Still looking for his big shot, he could find a role all over the back end with his size and speed.
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