When people talk about the need for scouting global talent, the common refrain is that there is only a finite number of humans in existence with the requisite size, speed and strength to play this sport.
Nowhere is this more true than offensive line.
The trenches have long been the likeliest place to find an international baller suiting up in North America and the 2021 Global Draft has a couple players with starter potential at the position, though the prospect pool isn’t as deep as you might expect.
For the purpose of today’s position rankings, I will make it shallower by removing three players who could theoretically be chosen.
Jamaica’s Matt Peart is expected to start for the New York Giants in 2021 and would be the definition of a wasted pick. Mexico’s Isaac Alarcon has two more years as a roster exemption with the Dallas Cowboys.
Since I’ve excluded all other players under NFL contract, South Africa’s Dieter Eiselen is also excluded, though being claimed as a futures pick may not be out of the realm of possibility for the second year Chicago Bears UDFA.
When it comes to the rest of the big boys up front, there is impact talent at the top and some intriguing projects available later.
1. Tomoya Machino, Japan, Fujitsu Frontiers
Bull strong with sweet feet, Tomoya Machino is exactly the player CFL 2.0 is looking to discover. He’ll need to adapt to North American power so Machino isn’t the most pro ready of this group, but his potential is sky high.
2. Steve Nielsen, Denmark, Eastern Michigan
Six-foot-eight, 323 pounds and powerful in the run game, Nielsen was good enough to sign with the Jaguars out of college but COVID-19 ruined his shot. Despite his length, struggles against speed likely kick him to guard in the CFL, where his strength will shine.
3. Chris Ferguson, Bahamas, Cincinnati
A two-year starter for the Bearcats, Ferguson struggles with foot quickness and plays with a hunch but has enough strength and pedigree to be a CFL guard.
4. Otávio Amorim, Brazil, Timbo Rex
An old school neck-roll wearing bully who has a bad habit of leaning on guys, Amorim failed to earn a practice roster spot in 2019 from the NFL’s Pathway Program. He wasn’t enough of a finished product to get a Virtual Combine invite, but a CFL team might see developmental potential in the 24-year-old.
5. Abdul Bello, Nigeria, Florida State
This Nigerian boxer lit the recruiting world on fire, then struggled mightily during five tumultuous years in Tallahassee. Still just 23, does a CFL team think they can expose the potential that coaching turnover with the Seminoles seemed to bury?
6. Alfredo Gutierrez, Mexico, Borregos de Monterrey Tec
Gutierrez is stiff and somewhat lumbering, but the fact he is six-foot-nine with 34 5/8 inch arms may be enough to get him one of the four available NFL practice roster spots in this year’s Pathway Program.
7. Keanu Ebanks, United Kingdom, Stockholm Mean Machines
His technique still needs to be cleaned up but Ebanks is a relentless driver and the 26-year old’s whopping 35 4/8 inch reach will make some teams double take.
8. Shelton Williams, Bahamas, Acadia
An athletic lineman with a physical edge, Williams stood out in the AUS but needs to add a weight to his frame to be successful.
9. Max Pircher, Italy, Swarco Raiders
The NFL’s IPP program looks for innate traits, not necessarily the best players right now. Six-foot-seven Pircher is a classic example who has the ideal OL build to shape, but stilted and often underwhelming tape.
10. Sven Breidenbach, Germany, Wroclaw Panthers
Breidenbach shows flashes of potential as good as any player on this list but at 31, Thiadric Hansen’s roommate is no longer the developmental prospect you want him to be.
11. Amadou Konte, Senegal, Benedictine College
Konte has top-tier length and flashed in his arena days, but being 30 years old is difficult to overcome.
12. Josue Lopez Burgos, Mexico, Monterrey Fundidores
Lopez lacks pop and bend, but his size and feet show potential for development if given time.