CFL Global Draft Position Rankings: Linebackers

Photo courtesy: UTSA Athletics

Linebackers, the heart of any special teams unit.

That’s exactly what CFL teams are hoping to find in the 2021 Global Draft.

Though linebacker is not the deepest position in the selection pool, don’t be surprised if it’s where the B.C. Lions go with the first overall pick. Instant contributors are available at the top, each with potential to become a fan favourite.

1. Les Maruo, Japan, Asahi Challengers

The only reason Les Maruo doesn’t count as an American is because he never got his American citizenship after immigrating to Wichita, Kansas. The former starting middle linebacker for the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners was proudly repatriated by the X League and has all the traits to become a day one contributor on special teams.

2. Tyron Vrede, Netherlands, North Dakota

When it comes to build and athleticism, it’s hard to separate Vrede and Maruo. The Dutchman played less in college, but his day one value on the teams is equally sky high and you can’t go wrong with either player.

3. Andres Espinosa, Mexico, Monterrey Tec Borregos

Espinosa checks in at an undersized five-foot-nine and 214 pounds but I can’t bring myself to care. Powerful enough to lift 300-pound linemen off their feet regularly, the Mexican ran the top 40-yard dash among linebackers and won’t look out of place on special teams.

4. Lukas Ruoss, Switzerland, Bemidji State

The CFL elected not to invite Ruoss to the Combine but I’m very high on what the Swiss product showed at Bemidji State, in particular his ability to shed blocks.

5. Luis Polastri, Brazil, Timbo Rex

At six-foot-three and 235 pounds, Polastri could slide down to the defensive line if needed and has the strength and power to excel, though his best fit is in the game’s third phase.

6. Marius Kensy, Germany, Cologne Crocodiles

Kensy doesn’t possess ideal speed but he packs a tremendous punch coming downhill. At 23, you really could shape the young German into whatever you want.

7. Diego Torres, Mexico, Puebla Artilleros

Torres certainly doesn’t ‘wow’ with his physical traits but he has an unparalleled nose for the football that made him the LFA’s leading tackler by a wide margin.

8. Ayo Oyelola, United Kingdom, Nottingham University

A coverage linebacker who stood out in British college football, Oyelola didn’t show his game speed at the NFL International Player Pathway Program Pro Day. The former soccer prospect may be an under the radar sleeper.

9. Ryan Gomes, Brazil, Galo FA

Another hybrid linebacker with coverage ability, Gomes may be the quickest of this group and is still only 23 with lots of room to grow.

10. Akio Yamagishi, Japan, Fujitsu Frontiers

Yamagishi doesn’t lay the lumber like some others on this list, but he covers ground quickly and is a sure tackler in space.

11. Kadel King, United Kingdom, Mallorca Voltors

A former Atlantic University Sport all-star for St. Francis Xavier University, King looks every bit the part at nearly six-foot-three, 227 pounds with 34-and-five-eighth-inch arms. His athletic measurables don’t quite stack up however and you often find yourself wanting more from a player that stands out physically that much.

12. Marcel Lindner, Germany, Waldorf

A conference defensive player of the year in 2019 while playing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Lindner simply flies around the football field with reckless abandon despite his smaller frame.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.