A pair of potential first-rounders in Thursday’s CFL Global Draft

By Chris O’Leary

With the CFL Global Draft a day away, we’ll wrap up our spotlight series with a two-for-one, some bang for your reading buck. As teams finalize their plans for Thursday’s draft, our CFL Global official said that he can’t see the first round ending without two names being called.

Those players happen to be a pair of offensive lineman, in Denmark’s Steven Nielsen and Japan’s Tomoya Machino.

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STEVEN NIELSEN BRINGS SIZE AND NCAA EXPERIENCE TO THURSDAY’S CFL GLOBAL DRAFT (PHOTO: EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY)

Nielsen stands almost six-foot-eight and 323 pounds. He was a three-year starter at Eastern Michigan and spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year.

“Nielsen and Machino I think are first-round picks,” our analyst said.

“I think those are both guys who could actually end up working into being starters at some point. Nielsen was a guy that teams were looking at as an American before the Global thing started. He was coming out of college last year and he was in the Jacksonville training camp, this is a very good player and at his size his testing numbers were good.

“His testing numbers and Machino’s testing numbers are both upper percentiles relative to NFL top-five, like they both tested very well.

“He’s a guy who I would consider a first-round lock and I think Machino could work his way into the first round. I think those guys are two of the top-10 prospects available.”

TOMOYA MACHINO, SEEN HERE AT LAST YEAR’S OSAKA COMBINE, IS A FORMER BASEBALL PLAYER WITH NATURAL O-LINEMAN INSTINCTS (KYLE SCOTT/CFL.CA)

Machino, almost six-foot-five and 303 pounds, took part in the CFL’s combine in Osaka, Japan last year, before the pandemic hit. He was overshadowed there somewhat by the day that running back Taku Lee had prior in Tokyo. Both were invited to the Global Combine that was planned for Toronto last year. Lee has since landed in the NFL’s International Pathways Program.

“(Machino) was another guy we were super excited about,” our analyst continued. “The thing about Machino, he’s a converted baseball player. When you’re playing offensive line, a lot of it involves unnatural movements. But all those movements come naturally to him.

“Sometimes it just clicks with guys. He naturally…doesn’t lean on guys in pass-pro. He keeps his shoulders back. Leaning on guys is actually one of the biggest cardinal sins, but also the easiest to commit in pass-pro. You want to push them down into the ground and stuff. But in reality that puts you in a jeopardizing position. A lot of what he does well will translate really to the professional level.

“He also considerably improved a lot of his testing numbers. I think he was actually at an XFL tryout last year. Machino’s not new to (football) in North America. He’s been over here for camps. He’s a very interesting prospect.”

Anticipating a pair of promising o-linemen to go in the first-round of a draft gives the Global Combine a very familiar, very Canadian feel.

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