Grading every pick in the 2022 CFL Global Draft

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

The 2022 CFL Global Draft in many ways resembled last year’s event — loaded with punters and futures picks — making it difficult for fans to assess how their favourite team may have done.

To make it easy, here are my first impressions of all 27 picks, accompanied by a letter grade. As always, remember that these grades are contingent on not only the quality of the player, but where they were selected, how soon they will be available and how they’ll fit on their team.

Take them with a grain of salt, as ultimately each player will determine their own future by how they perform in the coming months.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Round 1, Pick 1: Montreal Alouettes — Kingsley Jonathan, DE, Nigeria

The Alouettes take a big swing with the top pick, grabbing a six-foot-two, 264-pound pass rusher from Syracuse. Jonathan has the potential to make a major impact in the CFL, but the Alouettes will have to wait as he is currently under contract with the Buffalo Bills after going unselected in the 2022 NFL Draft. If it pans out, he could be among the league’s best international talents.

Grade: B+

Round 1, Pick 2: Hamilton Tiger-Cats — Bailey Flint, P, Australia

Hamilton used their pick acquired in yesterday’s bombshell trade to jump up and grab a punter they coveted to push the inconsistent Joel Whitford. Flint, a product of Toledo, has a big leg and checks all the boxes, but I’m not certain he’ll ultimately be considered the best specialist selected in this draft.

Grade: B

Round 1, Pick 3: B.C. Lions — Karlis Brauns, DL, Latvia

Die that hair orange and let’s get to camp! The Lions select the first true European-trained Global in the Wroclaw Panthers standout defensive tackle and the Latvian should be able to slot into the spot left by the retired Niklas Gustav right away, playing on all special teams and chipping in as part of the rotation as needed.

Grade: A

Round 1, Pick 4: Toronto Argonauts — John Haggerty, P, Australia

The Argos have no pressing need at specialist with Boris Bede handling both duties, but Haggerty could help lighten his load. The Western Kentucky product has a booming leg with a career average of 46.1 yards per punt.

Grade: A-

Round 1, Pick 5: Saskatchewan Roughriders — Jordan Genmark Heath, LB, Sweden

The Riders are comfortable with the two high-end Global contributors they already have, so it makes sense to go futures here. They get a linebacker with coverage upside who started at Notre Dame and UCLA, but they’ll have to wait a while after he signed a late undrafted free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Grade: A-

 Round 1, Pick 6: Winnipeg Blue Bombers — Tom Hackett, P, Australia

This one is difficult to sort out. On one hand, the Bombers could use a punting upgrade and Hackett was a two-time Ray Guy award winner at Utah. On the other hand, he hasn’t played since 2016 and is a Salt Lake City radio host. Clearly the Bombers have some insider insight here.

Grade: C+

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Round 1, Pick 7: Calgary Stampeders — Bamidele Olaseni, OL, United Kingdom

From one Utah product to another, Olaseni was a second team All-PAC 12 tackle last season for the Utes and makes up for slower feet with incredible 36-inch arms. He could be a legitimate CFL starter down the line, but the Stampeders will need to be patient after he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted free agent.

Grade: A-

Round 1, Pick 8: Ottawa Redblacks — Hector Zepeda, OL, Mexico

Ottawa had a nightmarish experience with a Global offensive lineman last season, but I see Zepeda as a guy with some high-end upside. He has quick feet for a big man and can still maul, which earned him a spot in the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. Shorter than past Mexican selections, he wasn’t chosen as one of the four roster exemptions and could be a nice developmental add for the Redblacks.

Grade: B+

Round 1, Pick 9: Edmonton Elks — Ben Griffiths, P, Australia

Edmonton moves down and still manages to grab the punter I thought they wanted. A 30-year-old former Aussie Rules star, Griffiths is six-foot-seven and 240-pounds with an insane career average hang time of 4.37 seconds at USC. He should contribute immediately next season.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick 10: Hamilton Tiger-Cats — Blake Hayes, P, Australia

After going Aussie punter at number two, the Ticats come right back and grab a Ray Guy semi-finalist from Illinois with some hang-time issues. A solid enough pick, but I’m unsure of the merits of bringing four Global punters to camp.

Grade: B-

Round 2, Pick 11: Ottawa Redblacks — Edris Jean-Alphonse, DB, France

Ottawa is clearly betting on Jean-Alphonse’s length and high-end athletic measurables, but it is hard for me to ignore that the Frenchman hardly saw the field at Laval. Maybe the Redblacks can help him reach his potential.

Grade: C+

Round 2, Pick 12: Calgary Stampeders — Ryan Gomes, LB, Brazil

Hard to believe that the Redblacks passed on a guy they actually tried to sign last year, but the Stamps are thankful Gomes fell in their laps. He is built to play linebacker in the CFL with his movement skills in space and should be able to help on special teams.

Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 13: Winnipeg Blue Bombers — Souleymane Karamoko, DB, France

A stunning pick up this late in the draft considering he wasn’t selected for one of the four NFL IPP slots today, Karamoko would be a legitimate draft prospect if he were Canadian. Laval’s starting halfback the last few years makes plays on the ball and comes downhill in a hurry, with a chance to chip in on teams for the Bombers early.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick 14: Saskatchewan Roughriders — Lukas Ruoss, LB, Switzerland

A wrong has been righted here, because I felt it was a travesty that Ruoss was not even invited to the Virtual Combine in 2021. He was a standout at tiny Bemidji State before returning to Europe to be a difference-maker for the Potsdam Royals, and has all the requisite athletic ability to play at the CFL level.

Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 15: Toronto Argonauts — Simeon Okonta-Wariso, DL, United Kingdom

Okonta-Wariso is extremely raw and has played mostly linebacker, but showed at the National Combine that he can follow the path of Thiadric Hansen to defensive line conversion and special teams success. I suspected he would go higher than this, making it great value for the Argos.

Grade: A

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Steve Luciano

Round 2, Pick 16: B.C. Lions — Marcel Dabo, DB, Germany

If Dabo was available right now, the Stuttgart Surge standout is in contention for the top pick due to his incredible athleticism. He’s six-foot and 208 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, over 11-foot broad jump, and 4.34 forty, but he was successful in his bid for an NFL IPP practice roster exemption. The Indianapolis Colts now hold his rights for three years, with no cost to keep him around, making this a deep futures pick for a team that needs bodies now.

Grade: C+

Round 2, Pick 17: Edmonton Elks — Rafael Gaglianone, K, Brazil

Fans of college football will remember Gaglianone from his days with Wisconsin from 2014 to 2018. He’s been training for a CFL comeback and will get his shot in Edmonton, but it is hard to see him giving any real competition to Sergio Castillo.

Grade: B-

Round 2, Pick 18: Montreal Alouettes — Thomas Odukoya, TE, Netherlands

Like Dabo earlier, Odukoya has received a practice roster exemption from the NFL and will be with the Tennessee Titans for three years. The Eastern Michigan pass catcher is a fine player, but that is a long time to wait for a position that has limited American — and therefore Global — value in the CFL.

Grade: C

Round 3, Pick 19: Montreal Alouettes — Kirk Christodoulou, P, Australia

The Alouettes went back-to-back futures picks, then finally picked up someone to help them now in Pittsburgh punter Kirk Christodoulou. I’m surprised he wasn’t higher on the list of specialists taken, but I’m also uncertain he’ll be an upgrade over Joseph Zema.

Grade: B

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Round 3, Pick 20: Edmonton Elks — Corliss Waitman, P, Belgium

Edmonton used their picks on three specialists from three different countries, proving Chris Jones has little interest in the Global program — which was already clear when he cut most of his existing Globals. Waitman, a South Alabama product, saw time with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year and is currently under contract with the Denver Broncos.

Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 21: B.C. Lions — John Levi Kruse, FB, Germany

Fantastic value late in the draft, Kruse’s position gives him little chance of seeing time on offence, but he is built for CFL special teams. Could be the second steal by the Lions in the last round of a Global Draft in as many years.

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 22: Toronto Argonauts — Otavio Amorim, OL, Brazil

A former NFL IPP trainee who played at a high level in Europe last season, Amorim is a 325-pound bruiser who surprised me with how quick his feet are. He isn’t a refined technician and gets caught leaning, but his size makes him an intriguing developmental prospect.

Grade: B+

Round 3, Pick 23: Saskatchewan Roughriders — Maceo Beard-Aigret, DB, France

Just 22, people on the ground in Europe absolutely rave about Beard-Aigret’s potential. He played CEGEP in Canada and returns as a developmental safety prospect with the size to play special teams.

Grade: A

Round 3, Pick 24: Winnipeg Blue Bombers — Michael Sleep-Dalton, P, Australia

A second punter to compete for the job is not exactly an exciting addition, but Sleep-Dalton is an ambidextrous kicker and has experience at Iowa and Arizona State. He’s a worthy selection, however I was told he wasn’t seriously interested in pursuing the CFL, so we’ll see if the Bombers are able to sway him.

Grade: C+

Round 3, Pick 25: Calgary Stampeders — Bailey Devine-Scott, DB, Australia

I won’t pretend to be objective here, as I scouted Devine-Scott as part of my work with All 22 — The Global Scouting Network and ran point on getting him an invitation to the Tropical Bowl after multiple all-conference seasons at Western New England. He was connected to the CFL from there and is a fantastic kid who will bring early special teams value.

Grade: A

Round 3, Pick 26: Ottawa Redblacks — Gabriel Ballinas, K, Mexico

Globals who can do all three kicking jobs are very rare, but Ballinas was effective as a place-kicker, punter and kickoff specialist at Albany State. He’s worth a camp look, but won’t be unseating Ottawa’s existing group.

Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 27: Hamilton Tiger-Cats — Ralf Rusins, DT, Latvia

An outstanding nose tackle at Liberty University, Rusins’ lack of quickness could make the CFL transition difficult. The Ticats have been willing to work through that before with large Global defensive tackles and his high-end size is worth the risk with the last pick.

Grade: A

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.