The 2021 CFL Global Draft is just a week away and the reality is most fans simply don’t know what to make of it.
That really isn’t the fault of the average Joe. With pandemic uncertainty, financial insecurity and the new legal requirement to bring up The Rock in every conversation, who has the time to track 300 potential players in vastly different time-zones? Clearly only someone with unhealthy obsessions and not enough friends.
Luckily, I’m at your service. Perhaps I need to re-evaluate my life choices…
The Global Draft will be chaotic and wildly unpredictable. No one knows for sure how the different position groups will be valued. That means plenty of intrigue and every day from here until the draft, I’ll share a different positional ranking based on my own assessment of the Draft class.
Today we start with the deepest and potentially the most impactful group available: kickers and punters.
Some people believe as many as 10 of the 36 players selected next Thursday may find their employ kicking the pigskin and it’s hard to argue with the depth of talent available. Evaluating kickers and punters is far from my area of comfort but I’ve picked out 15 players who especially intrigue me.
In the interest of keeping my rankings brief, I’ve excluded four Draft eligible players from my ranking.
Australian punter Arryn Siposs of the Philadelphia Eagles and German kicker Dominik Eberle of the Las Vegas Raider could both be chosen but hold NFL contracts. Eligible young Aussies Max Duffy of Kentucky and James Smith of Cincinnati will join them during or after the NFL Draft.
Teams could elect to use a futures pick and hope they are released, but it would be a gamble. Simply assume each would rank near the top of this list.
The rest of the players on offer are no less talented and the future of your team’s kicking game could be found here.
1. Cody Grace, Punter, Australia (Arkansas State)
Known to fans as ‘The Thunder from Down Under’, this 25-year-old got NFL interest last year but surprisingly went without a contract despite being the seventh highest graded punter in the nation according to ProFootballFocus. With a career net average of 40.6 yards per punt and an average hang-time of 4.2 seconds, Grace could be a game-changer.
2. Joseph Zema, Punter, Australia (Incarnate Word)
Another AAF specialist, Zema punted for the San Antonio Commanders while CFL fan favourite Sergio Castillo kicked field goals. His 39.6 net average and 4.1 second hang-time has earned him several NFL try-outs since but he most recently showed off his leg in The Spring League.
3. Kaare Vedvik, Punter/Kicker, Norway (Marshall)
Vedvik is still getting NFL tryouts after being waived by the Washington Football Team in January, his seventh team in three years. A primary punter for the Thundering Herd with a career long kick of 92 yards, he’s been used as kicker in the NFL and could do both in the CFL.
4. Toshiki Sato, Kicker, Japan (IBM Big Blue)
After setting the X League record with a 58 yard field goal and showing deadly consistency, Sato has chased the NFL dream in The Spring League and had serious interest from both the Cowboys and Raiders last year.
5. Tyson Dyer, Punter, Australia (New Mexico)
A 2021 NFL Draft prospect, this Ray Guy Award semi-finalists absolutely pounds the football with a career net average of 40.6 yards and 76 kicks inside his opponents’ twenty yard line.
6. Takeru Yamasaki, Kicker, Japan (Obic Seagulls)
An efficient big-legged place-kicker for the reigning X League champion Seagulls, Yamasaki earned his reputation by kicking a 73-yarder in a viral practice video but has also hit from 57 yards in Spring League action.
7. Joel Whitford, Punter, Australia (Washington)
Another Aussie with a cannon, Whitford had a senior season for the ages in 2019 when he recorded a whopping net average of 42.9 yards. Consistency may be a question, as that was a six yard improvement over the year previous.
8. Jonas Schenderlein, Kicker, Germany ( Concordia-St. Paul)
A two-time Fred Mitchell Award finalist as the best specialist below the FCS, Schenderlein’s career 68.8% accuracy is a bit concerning, but he’s been asked to kick from distance far more than most. The German has hit 10 of his 42 career kicks from outside 50 yards and four from outside 55, including a career long 58-yarder.
9. Phillip Friis-Andersen, Kicker, Denmark (Berlin Rebels)
Perhaps a surprising Global combine omission given the number of specialist invited, Andersen is considered the best kicker in Europe and the 30-year old was briefly signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019.
10. Jake Ford, Punter, Australia (Ouachita Baptist)
Another Spring League alumnus looking to make the jump, Ford led all of Division II in net punting as a junior, despite having just six career kicks of over 50 yards.
11. Dominic Panazzolo, Punter, Australia (Texas Tech)
A Ray Guy Award semi-finalist, Panazzolo is unique as an ambidextrous punter from his Aussie Rules days. The two year Red Raider managed a career net average of 39.9 yards with 3.8 seconds of hang-time.
12. Doug Lloyd, Punter, Australia (Weber State)
The conference’s best punter during his time in the CFL-talent producing Big Sky, Lloyd boasts a 41.7 yard average and two career rushing touchdowns as a deceptive athlete.
13. Steven Coutts, Punter, Australia (California)
Coutts doesn’t have nearly the leg of the other punters available but his placement earned him some of the strongest PFF grades of the group during his freshman and junior seasons. He struggled in other years but still boasts an average hang-time of over four seconds.
14. Wihan Van Der Riet, Kicker, South Africa (None)
A 31-year-old Global anomaly, Van Der Riet is a trailblazer in trying to replicate the specialist producing success of Australia in Africa. Known to hit from 70 yards in practice, Van Der Riet actually worked out for the B.C. Lions in 2019. He’s been impactful in steering other South Africans towards the CFL even if he doesn’t get chosen.
15. Ryan Meskell, Kicker, Australia (Hawaii)
Meskell has only hit 66.6% of his career field goals and never from outside of 50 yards but a 58.4 yard kickoff average shows some big leg potential.