Alas, we have reached our inevitable conclusion.
After ranking every position group in the 2021 CFL Global Draft, we finish with defensive linemen. Beyond kickers and punters, this is the deepest and the strongest position group available. Because the nature of the defensive line lends itself to rotation, it is also the most likely place to see a Global player make a meaningful impact beyond special teams in 2021.
In reality, this should have been two lists: defensive tackles and defensive ends. I don’t have time for that, so you’ll see them combined here.
For the purpose of the rankings, I’ve also eliminated two eligible players under NFL contract from consideration. German David Bada of the Washington Football Team and Australian Matt Leo of the Philadelphia Eagles, both have two years remaining as practice roster exemptions and should not be selected.
They aren’t the only current or former NFL prospects available however and there will be plenty of intrigue at this position on Thursday.
1. Alex Jenkins, United Kingdom, Incarnate Word
At 28, Jenkins has already spent time at defensive end with the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants, as well as the XFL’s LA Wildcats. His experience could be coveted, though my attempts to gauge his interest in the CFL went unread.
2. Thomas Schaffer, Austria, Stanford
An imposing defensive tackle that stands almost six-foot-seven and 302 pounds, Schaffer led Stanford in sacks this year. He’s waiting on the NFL Draft but interest may be limited to an undrafted free agent spot and the fact he’s recovering from knee surgery could see him slip through the cracks. Is a CFL team willing to make that gamble? We’ll see.
3. Aaron Donkor, Germany, Arkansas State
Based on testing, Donkor and his tremendous get off should get one of the NFL International Player Pathway Program practice roster spots. However, the league down south hates few things more than a 230-pound tweener, which could leave Donkor available.
4. David Izinyon, United Kingdom, Tychy Falcons
Cut up and built with fantastic testing numbers, Izinyon is a linebacker who should follow Thiadric Hansen’s lead to the defensive line. Likewise, he’ll absolutely knock the wind out of you on special teams.
5. Tibo Debaillie, Belgium, Towson
A excellent run defender at Towson, Debaillie put up 31 reps on the bench and is surprisingly agile for his size. Former CFL player Brandon Collier, now the leading voice in European NCAA recruitment, found him and believes he should be the top pick overall.
6. Abdoul Moubarak Djeri, Germany, Cologne Crocodiles
Somewhat under the radar, Djeri is another NFL IPP alumni who spent 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals. My requests to gauge his interest in the CFL did not receive a response but if he’s willing, Djeri could contribute inside or on the edge.
7. Adedayo Odeleye, United Kingdom, Loughbourough University
This big British lineman is a young project with upside, but he stands a good chance of earning one of the NFL’s IPP practice roster spots.
8. Boqiao Li, China, Georgia Doom
Is Boqiao Li a good football player? He really hasn’t played enough to tell, but he has the power and explosiveness to at least be a special teams contributor. His passport could lead to eyeballs in the world’s biggest market.
9. Hermes Mireles, Mexico, UAMN Leones
Mireles is still raw coming out of the Mexican college ranks but his 4.78 speed and 29 reps on the bench show there is something to be revealed once he sticks his hand in the dirt and gets top coaching.
10. Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei, New Zealand, Washington State
Unlike other big men, Aiolupotea-Pei’s specialty is rushing the passer, not defending the run, something that bodes well for the CFL game.
11. Lone Toailoa, New Zealand, California
Same country, same conference, different skill set, as Toailoa thrives against the run, something that could see him advance into an NFL IPP practice roster spot.
12. Malcolm Engstrom, Sweden, Stockholm Mean Machines
Perhaps the best player in Sweden over the last half decade, Engstrom doesn’t have the same high level traits as other prospects, but flashes some of the best technique and hand usage.
13. Ryota Takaya, Japan, Fujitsu Frontiers
Undersized for the line at five-foot-ten and 228 pounds, some might see Takaya as a linebacker. I can’t bring myself to take the fastest get-off in the draft out of a three-point stance, but special teams is where he’ll really thrive.
14. Chris Mulumba, Finland, Colorado
Mulumba has pedigree from his days in the rotation at Colorado and a stint with the NFL IPP program. He can hold his own physically but the Finn is a middling athlete and slow off the ball.
15. Leonel Misangumukini, Austria, Vienna Vikings
Young and raw with really good length, the fact Misangumukini couldn’t test at his NFL IPP Pro Day makes him a hard to place wild card.
16. Yoann Miangue, France, Flash de la Courneuve
Project doesn’t even begin to describe the process of turning a 22-year old Taekwondo fighter into a defensive lineman, but a CFL team could consider it if Miangue isn’t selected from the NFL IPP program.
17. Niklas Gustav, Germany, Morningside
Gustav was highly productive this year, notching eight sacks and conference player of the year honours in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, but he’s just a step behind some other edge prospects athletically.
18. Leo Krafft, Norway, Eidsvoll 1814s
Another former NFL IPP defensive tackle, Krafft has solid strength and power but falls here as a big defensive tackle that won’t be ready for the rotation yet and may not help on specials.
19. Lorenzo Dalle Piagge, Italy, Milano Seamen
The 28-year old Italian is solid across the board and could be a valuable special teamer, though he is among the oldest in this position group.
20. Franklin Agbasimere, Nigeria, Missouri
An under-utilized athlete at a major school, Agbasimere has potential and the aura of the Southeastern Conference could drive him way up some teams’ boards.