Top performers from the CFL Global Combine

Canadians often joke that Toronto is the center of the universe, but last weekend it was at the very least the center of international football attention.

For the second time in the event’s history, the Canadian Football League’s National Combine featured athletes from across the globe competing alongside homegrown prospects. The 35 Global players who ultimately made the trek to Toronto faced the most important job interview of their lives, with team meetings, physical testing, and on-field drills standing between them and their dream of being drafted on May 3rd.

Entering its third season of existence, the CFL’s Global program — which has mandated each team dress one international player for every game — remains controversial among many of the coaches and personnel men in attendance at the Combine. While the league office remains steadfast in their commitment to the initiative, it continues to have vocal critics in teams’ front offices, providing an added hurdle for prospects to overcome.

While stronger than the first group of Globals to attend the National Combine in 2019, the perception around the league was that this group of invitees was a weaker group than those drafted after virtual testing in 2021. Many of those in Toronto had gone undrafted in that process and were eligible to reenter the draft pool due to COVID-19 concessions.

Nevertheless, the CFL Combine has always offered a unique platform in which prospects can elevate their stock. In addition to physical testing, the event includes a padded session which culminates in one-on-ones, allowing players to actually show their football ability in a full contact situation. With Global prospects competing alongside their Canadian counterparts, each had a chance to impress against known commodities.

While the tape will be the ultimate deciding factor, here are six players that I felt stood out in Toronto.

Karlis Brauns, DL, Latvia (Current team: Wroclaw Panthers)

Photo: gosiaherlfoto

With the majority of evaluators completely unfamiliar with them, passing the eyeball test is vitally important for prospects. If that were an official event, Brauns would have won it hands down. The pink-haired ELF All-Star is a chiseled 6’4 and 270 pounds and ran a 4.97 forty-yard dash after putting up 29 reps on the bench. Those are good numbers for a CFL defensive tackle and while his one-on-ones exposed some stiffness, he embarrassed 8th ranked Canadian prospect Zack Fry on one great rep.

Simeon Okonta-Wariso, DL/LB, United Kingdom (Current team: Berlin Rebels)

Simeon Okonta-Wariso set to go Photo: Kevin Sousa

Standing at 6’1 and 255 pounds, there wasn’t a Global player at any position that received more work at the Combine than the little-known British defender who played in GFL 2 last season. Okonta-Wariso did one-on-ones with both the defensive line and linebackers and was one of just a few Global players to actually receive requested matchups from scouts, showing himself to be extremely raw but with all the tools to succeed. He’s strong and explosive, with instant special teams’ value and a higher ceiling if a team wants to develop him.

Osvaldo Zumalacarregui, DB, Mexico (Current team: Dinos de Saltillo)

Osvaldo Zumalacarregui in drills

I was high on Zumalacarregui prior to the 2021 Global Draft, but teams largely eschewed Mexican prospects after the lack of success they found in the 2019 cycle. That might change this time around, with the all-time leading tackler for Aztecas UDLAP looking extremely comfortable in Toronto despite being a safety asked to cover man-to-man. He showed a physical edge and some smooth movement skills too, going step for step with 5th ranked Canadian Tyson Philpot on a big time rep down the left sideline.

Robin Wilzeck, REC, Germany (Current team: Berlin Thunder)

Robin Wilzeck catching a pass playing for Dresden Monarchs in the German Football League Photo: Dresden Monarchs

A key piece of the Dresden Monarchs GFL-championship team last season, imports raved about how Wilzeck had all the skills to be an NCAA receiver. The young German showed why by testing very well for a CFL Combine, with a 38-inch vertical, 10-foot, 3 1/8-inch broad jump and 4.63 second forty. Wilzeck would like some of his one-on-one reps back — including a bad drop — but he showed elite tools and enough flashes to be the rare type of receiver CFL teams might consider taking.

Ryan Gomes, LB, Brazil (Current team: Galo FA)

It is unsurprising that Gomes looked good in Toronto, given that he was the only player there who briefly signed with a CFL team in 2021 but was released before training camp. The hybrid linebacker has the special type of movement skills required to play the position on a CFL field, with a sub-7 second three-cone and 4.69 second forty. He tested superior to almost every National linebacker in attendance while still being a respectable 223 pounds, showing some flashed in the on-field drills that could be developed.

Karri Pajarinen, RB, Finland (Current team: Helsinki Roosters)

A 4.88 forty isn’t great for a running back, but Pajarinen showed some tantalizing physical tools with 20 reps on the bench, a 35-inch vertical and a nine-foot, 10 1/2-inch broad jump. The young Finnish national team player showed some that explosiveness in the on-field drills and surprised me with the strength of his 210-pound frame. He didn’t win every rep, but even when losing demonstrated a skillset coaches should be able to work with.

Top Testing Results

Bench Press (Top National Result: 28 reps)

1. Noke Tago, DL, American Samoa — 30 reps

2. Karlis Brauns, DL, Latvia — 29 reps

3. Raphael Zistler, DL, Germany — 25 reps

Forty-Yard Dash (Top National Result: 4.42 seconds)

1. Edris Jean-Alphonse, DB, France — 4.55 seconds

2. Yannick Mayr, REC, Austria — 4.56 seconds

3. Robin Wilzeck, REC, Germany — 4.63 seconds

Vertical Jump (Top National Result: 40.5 inches)

1. Robin Wilzeck, REC, Germany — 38 inches

2. Edris Jean-Alphonse, DB, France — 36 inches

3. Karri Pajarinen, RB, Finland — 35 inches

Broad Jump (Top National Result: 10′ 9 7/8″)

1. Robin Wilzeck, REC, Germany — 10′ 3 1/8″

2. Yannick Mayr, REC, Austria — 10′ 3″

3. Mads Flat, LB, Norway — 10′ 1 5/8″

Three-Cone (Top National Result: 6.85 seconds)

1. Yoshihito Omi, REC, Japan — 6.65 seconds

2. Roedion Henrique, DB, Netherlands — 6.86 seconds

3. Ryan Gomes, LB, Brazil — 6.93 seconds

Short Shuttle (Top National Result: 4.15 seconds)

T-1. Yoshihito Omi, REC, Japan — 4.18 seconds

T-1. Edris Jean-Alphonse, DB, France — 4.18 seconds

T-3. Diego Avendano, DB, Mexico — 4.24 seconds

T-3. Yannick Mayr, REC, Austria — 4.24 seconds


J.C. Abbott is a Vancouver-based CFL writer for 3DownNation. For extensive CFL coverage, visit

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.