Aussie punters own the day as 2021 CFL Global Draft enters the history books

It’s a good day to be an Australian punter.

The 2021 CFL Global Draft flew by on Thursday with 36 players from 18 different nations selected, but it was the big legs from the land down under that emerged on top.

Jake Ford of Ouachita Baptist University was selected with the first overall by the B.C. Lions to begin the inaugural CFL pick fest, the first of four Aussie punters taken in the first round. Incarnate Word’s Joseph Zema was taken sixth by the Montreal Alouettes, Cody Grace of Arkansas State went seventh to the Calgary Stampeders, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats secured Washington’s Joel Whitford at eight.

In the end, 11 kicking specialists went off the board and each will be expected to compete for a job early. Joining the Aussies were Kaare Vedvik of Norway (14th overall – SSK), Toshiki Sato (16th overall – TOR) and Takeru Yamasaki (19th overall – BC) of Japan, and John Henry Nell of South Africa (23rd overall -SSK). In the draft’s final round, the rights to Las Vegas Raiders German kicker Dominik Eberle (29th overall – HAM), Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (33rd overall – WPG), and top NFL draft prospect Max Duffy of Kentucky (30th overall -TOR) were obtained.

The Edmonton Football Team became the first to select a position player, taking Danish offensive lineman Steve Nielsen second overall. At six-foot-eight and 323-pounds, the three year starter at tackle for Eastern Michigan University is expected to compete for a starting role along Edmonton’s front.

With the third overall selection, the Toronto Argonauts looked to the defensive backfield to bring in former NFL International Player Pathway Program alumni Tigie Sankoh of the United Kingdom. The Former Cleveland Brown’s safety is expected to contribute right away on special teams and set the tone for a draft studded with current and former IPP players.

The first of six Japanese players taken was the choice at fourth overall, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers bringing in former UTSA Roadrunner turned Asahi Challenger Les Maruo. The physical linebacker will be following the lead of current Bombers Global standout Thiadric Hansen.

At fifth overall, bruising German linebacker-turned-fullback Chris Ezeala was the pick of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, bringing NFL pedigree from his time with the Baltimore Ravens. Expected to be a position-less player this year in the ELF, Ezeala will now have a major role in the Riders’ third phase.

With the final pick in the first round, French receiver Anthony Mahoungou came off the board to Ottawa before the Redblacks double-dipped at the top of the second with Dutch linebacker Tyron Vrede. Besides Mahoungou, the only other receiver selected in the draft was Finnish Combine standout Sebastien Sagne with the 32nd overall pick by Saskatchewan.

Beginning in the third round, the draft took on a distinctly speculative flair with three current International Player Pathway Program members selected . German defensive end Aaron Donkor (21st overall – CGY), British linebacker Ayo Oyelola (22nd overall – WPG), and Japanese running back Taku Lee (24th overall – MTL) remain eligible for NFL practice roster selection, but now have there rights held by CFL teams should they be available. Sammis Reyes, the athletic Chilean tight end recently signed by the Washington Football Team out of the IPP program, was also selected 34th overall by Toronto.

In addition, Mexican offensive lineman Isaac Alarcon of the Dallas Cowboys (25th overall – CGY) and Australian defensive end Matt Leo of the Philadelphia Eagles (35th overall – EDM) were both selected, though each has two possible years remaining as a practice roster exemption for their respective NFL team.

The choice of so many ‘futures picks’ means some CFL teams are likely to sign undrafted free agents to augment their Global class ahead of the start of the 2021 season. As it stands, here is the full breakdown of drafted players by country:

7 – Australia
6 – Japan
4 – Germany
3 – Great Britain
2 – Finland and France
1 – Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, China, Denmark, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa and Sweden

The full draft list can be found below.

1 BC Jake Ford P/K Australia
2 Edmonton Steven Nielsen OL Denmark
3 Toronto Tigie Sankoh DB Great Britain
4 Winnipeg Les Maruo LB Japan
5 Saskatchewan Christopher Ezeala RB Germany
6 Montreal Joseph Zema P Australia
7 Calgary Cody Grace P Australia
8 Hamilton Joel Whitford P Australia
9 Ottawa Anthony Mahoungou REC France



No. Team Name Position Country
10  Ottawa Tyron Vrede LB Netherlands
11 Hamilton Chris Mulumba DL Finland
12 Calgary Franklin Agbasimere DL Nigeria
13 Montreal Akio Yamagishi LB Japan
14 Saskatchewan Kaare Vedvik P Norway
15 Winnipeg Tomoya Machino OL Japan
16 Toronto Toshiki Sato K Japan
17 Edmonton Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei DL New Zealand
18 BC Bo Qiao Li DL China



No. Team Name Position Country
19 BC Takeru Yamasaki K Japan
20 Edmonton Tibo Debaillie DL Belgium
21 Calgary via TOR Aaron Donkor LB Germany
22 Winnipeg Ayo Oyelola LB Great Britain
23 Saskatchewan John Henry Nell K South Africa
24 Montreal Taku Lee RB Japan
25 Calgary Isaac Alarcon OL Mexico
26 Hamilton David Izinyon LB Great Britain
27 Ottawa Christopher Ferguson OL Bahamas



No. Team Name Position Country
28 Ottawa Tony Anderson DB France
29 Hamilton Dominik Eberle K Germany
30 Toronto via CGY Max Duffy P Australia
31 Montreal William James DB Sweden
32 Saskatchewan Sebastien Sagne REC Finland
33 Winnipeg Arryn Siposs P Australia
34 Toronto Sammis Reyes REC Chile
35 Edmonton Matt Leo DE Australia
36 BC Niklas Gustav DL Germany

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.