- Ben Grant
Global Draft Targets
Photo: Courtesy Dacia Vikings
Full Disclosure: I’m not adequately prepared for the 2022 Global Draft. I’m not sure if it’s because it falls on the same day as the CFL Draft this year as opposed to three weeks prior, but I’ve gone through about a quarter of the amount of film on the Global prospects compared to 2021. That said, I was there in person for the combine, which was extremely helpful, so I share with you all the knowledge (or lack of) I possess. Here are the prospects I think the Toronto Argonauts should target on Draft Day.
1. John Levi Kruse – TE/FB – Hamburg Sea Devils (ELF)
When I sat down to watch the Hamburg Sea Devils, I expected to see Kruse lined up as a TE given how good he looked catching the football at the CFL Combine. It turns out Hamburg had an amazing Spanish TE named Adria Botella Moreno who’d look great in the CFL, though he’s not likely unhappy as the star of the EFL. Kruse was primarily used as a fullback, sometimes also lining up in the slot, and honestly, he looked very good. He’s fast, athletic, a good route runner both out of the backfield and off the line, and he has good hands. I wish he were better in pass protection, but it’s something he can improve on. At the combine, during a quiet moment between sessions, Kruse did some long snapping which raised my eyebrows. His snap wasn’t as good as good as Jake Reinhart’s, but it was good enough, and you can never have enough long snappers on a team.
2. Yannick Mayr – WR – Schwabisch Hall Unicorns (GFL)
The second fastest Global player at the combine by one hundredth of a second, Yannick Mayr has serious speed. In fact, his 4.56 40 time is faster than what both Philpot brothers ran. His game speed is just as fast as his track speed, and his good vision allows him to maximize yardage and find lanes in traffic. His hands aren’t as natural as you’d like, but they’re not bad. He’s a great athlete who tracks the ball well. His route running is poor, but he’s smart in the way he finds space in zones. He was used as a running quarterback early on in his football career, which we probably won’t see in the CFL, but he presents options and opportunities for creativity.
3. Noke Tago – DL – Oregon State (NCAA)
Tago is a beast. He’s powerful and tenacious with a ridiculous engine. He’s not the fastest man in the world, but not every player on the field needs to be. He saw active time on the defensive line for Oregon State, but suffered a serious knee injury which held him back. As powerful as he is, he doesn’t shed blocks that well, though that’s something that can be improved. He’s more of a run stopper than a pass rusher due to a lacking arsenal of moves and technique, but he’s not far off from being useful situationally as part of a rotation. He needs to work on his tackling but he’s apparently very coachable. He's 29, and that’s concerning for a rookie who may need some work, but no one lifted more weight at the combine and he looked fit.
4. Samuel Kargel – DL – New Yorker Lions (GFL)
Kargel is a large individual who moves extremely well for his size, in a straight line at least. I did a double take on him a few times at the combine. At 6’1”, 272, his 5.1 40 time looked and is impressive. He changes direction like an aircraft carrier, but that’s not a big problem for a defensive tackle. What I liked most about his combine performance was his one-on-ones. He has a toolbelt full of nifty moves and great explosion off the ball. He made some solid Canadian linemen look foolish. In the GFL, he was used primarily as an end in both 3-4 and 4-3 sets, and his play backed up what I saw at the combine. I’m not sure I’d use him as a 4-3 end in the CFL, but he won’t look out of place as a rotational piece, especially on the interior.
5. Edris Jean-Alphonse – DB – Laval (USPORTS)
There’s so much to work with here athletically, but I wish Edris Jean-Alphonse had played more at Laval. He took a number of special teams snaps and a few at corner as well, but his lack of playing time is the curse of being on a talented team. He was the fastest Global player at the combine, which is extremely impressive at 6’0”, 206lbs. He could contribute immediately on special teams, but he isn’t close to seeing meaningful time on defense. His size and speed combination and natural athleticism is extremely rare, so you don’t pass up an opportunity to add someone like this to your roster.
6. Samuel Oram-Jones – RB – USC (NCAA)
His speed isn’t great, nor is his pass protection, but there’s a lot of upside with OJ and he’s an interesting character to boot. He was a European Junior Racing driver for McLaren with dreams of making it to F1. He didn’t even think about football until he was 18 and yet he ended up at USC. He’s very raw obviously, but he’s got great strength and coordination, and he’s received some good coaching. His special teams play is already quite good, but the downside with OJ is he will need a lot of time on the practice squad before he’s ready for anything else. He’s worth making an investment in.
7. Jai-Albert Jackson – DL/LB – Hertfordshire Cheetahs (BAFA)
Jai Jackson’s combine testing didn’t do much for me, but rather amazingly I have a BAFA contact who told me to look out for him, so I watched his drills very carefully. While his testing doesn’t show him as being particularly fast or strong, there are interesting flashes in his actual play. He explodes off the line, which he didn’t do at all in running his 40. He also seems to possess great strength for a lineman who only managed 10 reps on the bench. Jackson didn’t start playing football until a few years ago when he started university, and it shows. His game film is odd. He’s got a wonderful wingspan, but he doesn’t use his arms at all rushing the passer. He loves to spin when he gets held up, which works with stunning regularity in England, but needs to be coached out of him. He’s apparently a very hard worker and there’s a solid athletic base there. If he’s coachable, he could be worth a late pick in the draft.
I found this to be a much stronger Global Draft class this year than last. I’m not sure how many of these players will get meaningful non-special team snaps this season, but I believe all the players I outlined have at least a shot at it down the road with good coaching and development. People have been critical of the Global Draft because it hasn’t produced stars yet, but the majority of Canadians who are drafted don’t turn into stars either, even first round picks. The show of Global talent at this year’s combine is enough to tell me the CFL should continue with this initiative because it is drawing attention. Maybe this will be the draft where one of these players really turns into something special.