Paris. The City of Light. The City of Love. The City of CFL Combines?
CFL 2.0 is rolling forward with its slate of Global Combines after successful workouts in Finland and Sweden, and Paris is next. France’s top players will gather in the capital on Friday to show off in front of Greg Quick and his group.
The French are some of Europe’s top athletes and the most familiar with Canadian Football. The Combine invite list is littered with players who competed in the RSEQ or spent their formative years at a Canadian Cegep.
In my ongoing effort to make CFL 2.0 more accessible to the masses, I’ve combed the internet for tape on each of the Global prospects. Here are 13 names to know at the CFL Combine in France.
Anthony Mahoungou, REC, France, Unaffiliated (Purdue)
Mahoungou defies your expectations of what a Global prospect can be. A three-star high school recruit, he put up 688 yards and eight touchdowns in a breakout senior season for the Boilermakers. The productive Frenchman spent a pre-season with the Philadelphia Eagles and was briefly signed by Edmonton before being a victim of pre-training camp roster cut downs.
At 6’3 210lbs, he’s got a fantastic frame and the big body you look for. He used that body and a pair of strong hands to win a number of tough contested catches in college, including a few of the highlight reel variety. He’s not yet mature as a route runner and doesn’t separate exceptionally well but is exactly the type of player who benefits from the waggle. Mahoungou is no slouch for speed either, reportedly running a 4.55 at his pro day.
With his skillset and pedigree, Mahoungou may end up being the top player in this Global draft.
Tony Anderson, FS/SLB, France, Unaffiliated (Grand View)
An athletic and physical specimen, Tony Anderson was clearly competing at a level too low for his skill set at NAIA school Grand View. His 6’4 215lbs frame jumps off the screen and it’s the reason he got rookie camp invites from the Indianapolis Colts and LA Rams this season.
Anderson is an explosive and opportunistic safety with an ability to read routes and break on the football. He is a physical presence, separating receivers from the ball and plugging up the run game. Normally, his level of competition would generate some questions, but it is favourable compared to his fellow Europeans. Personally, I’d be intrigued to see if his playing style could be utilized as a CFL linebacker.
Anthony Dablé-Wolf, REC, France, Hildesheim Invaders [Germany]
Discovered by one of the original NFL European superstars, Osi Umenyiora, Dablé-Wolf is an athletic freak with productive NFL pre-seasons with New York Giants in 2017 and Atlanta Falcons in 2018.
A straight-line burner who could test in the 4.4s, Dablé-Wolf can also stop on a dime. His quickness and agility are unparalleled for a European prospect and his size is drool-worthy at 6’4 220lbs. Add in a soft set of hands and you have a truly dynamic weapon.
The only drawback, and the reason he isn’t the top prospect on this list, is that Dablé-Wolf is now 31 years old. That’s probably past the best before date for the receiver, even if I suspect he’s got a bit more in the tank.
Kevin Kaya, REC, France, Unaffiliated (Montreal)
A 6’4 string bean, Kaya was named a second team All-Canadian receiver this season as the leader of the University of Montreal’s Vanier Cup-bound offence.
The man that Carabins fans call “Superman” has a unique ability to elevate, using his length and extension to create a crazy catch radius. He runs good routes and has stretched the field at the USports level with long speed. If his passport was different, Kaya would likely be drafted as a Canadian this year but instead will get to show off his ability as a Global.
While he was announced with this Combine group, Kaya will actually be showing off for scouts at the Montreal Regional Combine. I’ve chosen to include him here so that he gets his proper due and doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Maxime De Falcis, FS/SLB, France, Dresden Monarchs [Germany] (Southern Utah/Montreal)
Originally a walk-on at Southern Utah University who transferred north to Montreal, De Falcis is an impressive 6’0 210lbs safety who can cover the whole field. In Europe, he’s proved valuable in a hybrid linebacker role and has shown he can cover man-to-man as well as over the top. An intelligent player with a wealth of experience, he reads quarterbacks well and therefore finds himself consistently in a place to make a play.
A tremendous open field tackler, De Falcis should have value as a special teamer. He, as well as the aforementioned Kevin Kaya, will be very familiar to newly hired Montreal GM Danny Maciocia, something that should boost their Global candidacy.
Jerome Valbon, TE/FB, France, Wasa Royals [Finland] (Bishop’s)
Jerome “The Train” Valbon was once a physical presence in the AUS and has become a dominant force in Europe.
A mean run blocker, Valbon works his opponents over with great hand placement, piston like feet and pure unadulterated nastiness. He is also surprisingly effective as a passing option, with more balance than one might expect from a 6’3 240lbs bowling ball.
Valbon is prototypical CFL fullback and should relish a special teams’ role. He will run you over as a blocker or a tackler.
Bryan Billy, FS/LB, France, Thonon Black Panthers
If you are looking for a downhill physical hitter, look no further than Bryan Billy.
Mainly a safety for France’s top team, Billy evidently relishes the physical aspects of the game. He throws his 6’2 210lbs body around with gusto and tries to explode through opponents. Evidently strong, his strengths as a defender might be better utilized closer to the line of scrimmage as a linebacker. Regardless, Billy is built to excel on special teams.
Aymeric Nicault, REC/FB, France, Wasa Royals [Finland]
At 6’0 210lbs, Nicault is a thick receiver who rode his physical strength to success in Finland. He’s got a pair of vice grips for hands and excellent body control, making him an absolute stud at the contested catch. He runs decent enough routes but only generates marginal separation in Europe, so I wonder about his ability to play a pure receiving role.
Nicault may fit much better as an H-back in the CFL, using his stockiness and physicality to great advantage. That positional switch will maximize his receiving strengths while limiting his weaknesses. His versatility will also have tremendous value on special teams, where he can both block and cover kicks.
Cheikhou Sow, REC, France, Dresden Monarchs [Germany]
Nobody is going to fall in love with Sow’s 5’8 176lbs body, but he has established himself as a legitimate deep threat in Germany. The mighty mite has jittery quick feet and an incredible ability to shift gears to take the top off any defence. One turn of a defender’s hips and Sow is gone, able to use strong tracking skills to bring in errant balls.
With one 5’8 receiver playing in Germany already advanced to the National Combine, Sow could make it a duo.
Amir Kilani, CB/FS, France, Seinajoki Crocodiles [Finland]
Kilani doesn’t possess ideal size at 5’11 185lbs, but boy does he have speed to burn. He has excelled as a returner in the French ranks, but his speed has really shone as a defensive back. Kilani is able to make tackles sideline to sideline when lined up at safety, but his impressive closing speed has also allowed him to make a living baiting quarterbacks into interceptions.
He may not be able to get away with doing that at the next level, but he’s shown how sound he can be positionally as well. Rarely will you find Kilani outside of a receiver’s hip pocket, unless that is exactly where he wants to be.
Brice Jacques-André-Coquin, REC, France, Solingen Paladins [Germany]
A well-rounded, do it all receiver with strength in all areas, Jacques-André-Coquin was one of the French invites to the NFL International Combine. He can run a variety of routes, get off press for tough catches in the red zone and has good size at 6’2 210lbs. J-A-C will have some upside as a possession slot.
I question J-A-C’s speed and overall athleticism, but his production in Germany speaks for itself. He has also played both ways, with experience on defence being a helpful skill for special teams’ play.
Jason Bofunda, RB, France, La Courneuve Flash
Bofunda is a crisp and clean one-cut runner, best utilized in a zone system. He runs with patience, setting up his blocks and exploiting the correct hole. His speed is good, not great, but his vision is the key to his success and his willingness to run with power is the cherry on top.
With a stocky 6’0 220lbs frame and willing physicality, Bofunda could adjust well to the heightened special teams and blocking demands of playing in Canada.
Louis Achaintre, LB, France, Bialystok Lowlanders [Poland] (Concordia)
A contributor at linebacker during his time in the RSEQ, Achaintre brings good size at 6’2 200lbs and a raw skillset to the table. He plays somewhat loose and out of control, with a zest for being around the ball but a tendency to overrun things.
There is potential for Achaintre to control his skills with quality coaching and turn into a special teams’ contributor. His time in Canada will also be an asset in terms of understanding those intricacies.