International talent shines at the UK’s Global CFL Combine

In the midst of typical British spring weather, 23 pro football longshots plodded out onto the field under grey skies and cold winds. These hopefuls found themselves at SGS sports facility in Bristol, England after being scouted as having pro potential in the ever more global Canadian Football League.

The list included 21 British players and two Frenchmen. Several of the CFL prospects were invited to last year’s NFL International Pathway Player Program Combine in London. Players who attended both combines were Arthur Mbahin (DL), Jai Jackson (DL), Emmanuel Falola (LB), Andy Owusu (RB/WR), Jacob Smilie (RB), Chad Walrond (DB), Maceo Beard (DB), and Wael Nasri (LB). After not being selected for the NFL’s international structure this same group along with other intriguing prospects now eye their chances of breaking into the CFL’ global player initiative.

London Warriors players Cedric Akrong (DL), Jaymyn Haddad (LB), Dwayne Obi (RB) were in attendance representing England’s best team. Rounding out the list were offensive lineman Lewis Thomas, Joe Marton, and Isiah Kleberg, along with Henry Rowland (TE), Tyrrell Bovelle (RB), Jack Brennan (DL), Kieran Matthews (DL), Simeon Oktona Wariso (Edge), Eden Thiede Palmer (TE), and Kris Wedderburn (WR).

The UK football scene produced three global players in the CFL last season as 2019 CFL global combine star David Izinyon, along with Tigie Sankoh and Ayo Oyelola all saw snaps as global players last season. Scouts are hoping to find another diamond in the rough in this group of dream chasers.

The day began in the weight room as players’ heights and weights were measured followed by the vertical leap and bench press tests. Defensive lineman Jack Brennan had the group cheering as he was the top performer on the bench press achieving 30 reps.

The players then hit the field for a variety of tests consisting of the broad jump, shuttle, three-cone, and of course the 40-yard dash. A few standouts sprinters were Andy Owusu, Jacob Smilie, Tyrell Bovelle, Chad Walrond, and Maceo Beard who ran impressive times. Beard and Owuso’s athleticism translated to the broad jump where the two were flirting with the 10-foot mark.

After testing concluded, the players padded up as coaches took the players through positional drills and one on one’s. ELF star Wael Nasri looked fluid and excelled at rushing the passer in one on one’s. Linebackers Jaymyn Haddad and Emmanuel Falola showed the ability to play physical football and turn and run with receivers, making the most of the drills.

Jai AlbertJackson and Arthur Mhabin looked good on the bags as the two defensive lineman had coaches noticing their burst and hand technique.

Offensively, bruising running back Dwayne Obi was the best blocker, while receiver Kris Wedderburg showed why his size and route running make him a national team player. Speedster Tyrell Bovelle was also able to beat his coverage and create separation rep after rep.

However, the day’s clear top player was France’s Maceo Beard. The recent Berlin Thunder signee’s measurables, testing, and on-field drills painted a picture of a global defensive back as ready for the CFL as any European prospect.

League scouts will comb over the film and measurements to select approximately 40 global players to join Canadian players at the CFL combine in Toronto on March 24th. The next step would be the CFL Global Draft which is set for May 3rd.

With each CFL team carrying a minimum of one global player on their roster, along with more opportunities on the practice squad, there is no doubt that coaches will have some UK prospects circled given the prior talent that has come out of the country.

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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