CFL Global Draft Recap: The Next Wave of Global Talent Hits the CFL – With A Few Suprises

In the second-ever CFL Global Draft, all nine CFL teams applied a variety of strategies in order to pick up the best global talent available. Some teams went for more pro-ready players with college experience, that could step in right away. While others took a more long-term approach, choosing high potential players that could pay off way down the line. Only time will tell how it plays out as some of these picks could be contributing this summer.

A total of 27 players from 12 countries were drafted in the third edition of the CFL Global Draft, following events in 2019 and 2021. Here is the breakdown by country, to no one’s surprise Australian punters dominated the day.

8 – Australia
3 – Brazil, France
2 – Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Mexico
1 – Belgium, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sweden, Switzerland

First Round

  1. Montreal | DE | Kingsley Jonathan | Nigeria
  2. Hamilton | P | Bailey Flint | Australia
  3. BC | DL | Karlis Brauns | Latvia
  4. Toronto | P | John Haggerty | Australia
  5. Saskatchewan | LB | Jordan Genmark Heath | Sweden
  6. Winnipeg | P | Tom Hackett | Australia
  7. Calgary | OL | Bamidele Olaseni | Great Britain
  8. Ottawa | OL | Hector Zepada | Mexico
  9. Edmonton | P | Ben Griffiths | Australia

Syracuse Linebacker Kingsley Jonathan was the top pick of the draft after a solid career with the Orangemen. The Nigerian prospect recently signed a undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills. In the surprise of the draft Latvian Karlis Brauns was picked up by the BC Lions. Brauns was an all-star defensive tackle for the Wroclaw Panthers last year in the ELF and was a standout at this year’s CFL Combine.

Swedish linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath was selected fifth after a stellar season with UCLA where he led the Bruins in tackles. The Swede along with 1st round offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni (UK) are currently in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders respectively. The first South American was taken with the next pick, as Hector Zepada (Mexico) was scooped up by OttawaAustralian punters Ben Griffiths, John Haggerty, Tom Hackett, and Bailey Flint will also compete for their spots in a talented pool of punters.

Second Round

  1. (10) | Hamilton | P | Blake Hayes | Australia
  2. (11) | Ottawa | DB | Edris JeanAlphonse | France
  3. (12) | Calgary |LB | Ryan Gomes | Brazil
  4. (13) | Winnipeg | DB | Souleymane Karamoko | France
  5. (14) | Saskatchewan | LB | Lukas Ruoss | Switzerland
  6. (15) | Toronto | DL | Simeon OkontaWariso | Great Britain
  7. (16) | BC | DB | Marcel Dabo | Germany
  8. (17) | Edmonton | K | Rafael Gaglianone | Brazil
  9. (18) | Montreal | TE | Thomas Odukoya | Netherlands

The second round featured two veterans of Canadian football as Laval Rouge et Or players Souleymane Karamoko and Edris JeanAlphonse  of France were picked up early. Europeans Lukas Ruoss and Simeon OkontaWariso are two prospects picked with different mindsets. Ruoss brings college football and experience as a NCAA D2 starter, while OkontaWariso is a workout warrior with the potenial to be a special teams menace. Brazilians Ryan Gomes and Rafeal Gaglianone (Wisconsin) are a similar duo as Gomes tested well at the combine and Gaglianone is an experienced D1 kicker.

In an interesting move recently allocated NFL International Pathway Players Marcel Dabo (Indianapolis Colts) and Thomas Odukoya (Tennessee Titans) were also selected towards the bottom of the round. Montreal and BC are hoping to pick up the two international studs as soon as their NFL days are over.

Third Round

  1. (19) | Montreal | P | Kirk Christodoulou | Australia
  2. (20) | Edmonton | P |Corliss Waitman | Belgium
  3. (21) | BC | FB | JohnLevi Kruse | Germany
  4. (22) | Toronto | OL | Otavio Amorim | Brazil
  5. (23) | Saskatchewan | DB | Maceo BeardAigret | France
  6. (24) | Winnipeg | P | Michael SleepDalton | Australia
  7. (25) | Calgary | DB | Bailey DevineScott | Australia
  8. (26) | Ottawa | K | Gabriel Ballinas | Mexico
  9. (27) | Hamilton | DT | Ralfs Rusins | Latvia

With the final pick in in the draft another NFL IPP alumni was selected as Latvian Ralf Rusins was scooped up by Hamilton. Rusins was a three-year starter at Liberty and was recently invited to a rookie minicamp with the Baltimore Ravens. Fellow Europeans JohnLevi Kruse, Corlis Waitman, Maceo BeardAigret were also picked after solid combine performances. Former Berlin Thunder lineman Otavio Amorim was also selected bringing the number of Brazilian too three.

Funny enough the final Australian selected in the draft was not a punter. Aussie defensive Bailey DevineScott joins the Calgary Stampeders after an excellent career at Western New England University (NCAA DIII). Two other D1 big legs from down under brought the total number of punters too eight for the Draft.

For these 27 global players their work has just begun as they make a difficult jump to professional football. They will have to prove themselves on the practice field and on special teams in order to carve a role out for themselves as CFL pros. Many hope to follow in the footsteps of CFL Grey Cup Champion Thiadric Hansen and become starters at the pro level.

Hear AFI’s and Jeff Rheinbold’s live reaction to the CFL Global draft. 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football