Every CFL team will claim the 2021 CFL Global draft went according to plan and they managed to secure their top targets in each round, so it’s difficult to know if that’s actually the case for the Toronto Argonauts or not. Their draft was a success, there’s not much doubt there, but was it perfect? They added two players who will come in and legitimately compete for playing time right away, and they added two players who must be viewed as lottery tickets due to the likelihood of them playing in the NFL.
There’s a good chance the Argonauts had to shift to their Plan B in the first round when Edmonton selected OL Steve Nielson (Denmark) second overall, one pick ahead of Toronto. Nielson fits the Toronto/Coach McAdoo profile perfectly at 6’8”, 323lbs. He has great length, can play anywhere but center, and looked fantastic as a four-year starter at Eastern Michigan. The Argonauts have four guys almost exactly like him, but the offensive line in undermanned at the moment when you break down roster spots by position.
If they did have to pivot to Plan B, it’s hard to complain since they picked up one of the most talented players in the draft in DB Tigie Sankoh (UK). Unlike a most Global players, football was Sankoh’s first love, and he actually grew up playing the game in Baltimore. At the age of 15, Sankoh moved to London where the options for playing competitive American football are limited. He attended the American Football Academy in Bristol and when he was old enough, played for the London Warriors of the British American Football League. In 2019, Sankoh was selected to participate in a combine at IMG Academy in Florida as a part of the NFL’s International Player Development Program. He impressed the scouts in attendance with his hands, speed, and footwork, and was selected as one of only a few athletes to be part of the program. Sankoh was assigned to the Cleveland Browns where he spent the last few seasons. Sankoh didn’t accumulate any regular season stats with the Browns, but at only 24 years of age, his potential is clear. He’s a hard-hitting DB with great hands who sees the ball well out of the QB’s hand. When he last played, he didn’t seem to take full advantage of his speed in coverage and sometimes showed poor anticipation, but this may have changed over his two years in Cleveland. Sankoh will certainly look to contribute on special teams immediately for the Argonauts, and probably join the competition at free safety.
Toronto probably had their eyes on a kicker from the start of the second round, and they got their guy in Toshiki Sato (Japan). There was a run on punters early, but Sato was the first kicker off the board when the Argonauts selected him with the 16th overall pick. They may also have been considering viral sensation Takeru Yamasaki with this pick. Both men have a cannon, but the difference is that Sato has nailed monster field goals in games and in freezing conditions at that. His 58-yard field goal in the X-League is still a Japanese record. He’s also known to be at his best in clutch situations. He hit a 41-yarder to win the East Japan Championship, he hit a 50-yarder in the Championship game, and he’s won a number of games at the end of regulation and in overtime. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders took a long look at Sato, but the low trajectory of his long kicks seem to have been a concern. The extra yard of space in the CFL neutral zone might be all Sato needs to make this point of criticism moot. Sato is more than capable of handling kickoff duties as well, but this is another area in which his low trajectory, and therefore lack of hangtime could be an issue. Veteran Boris Bede is the only other kicker on the Toronto roster at the moment, and he’s expected to handle all kicking and punting duties.
The Argonauts didn’t have a third round pick, so they surely watched anxiously as players fell off the board while waiting to make their two fourth round selections. They may have had their eyes on Cincinnati Bearcast G/T Chris Ferguson (Bermuda), but he was taken by Ottawa with the last pick of the third round. Toronto’s strategy then shifted to selecting players who most likely will never make it north of the border, but if they do, they will be game-changers.
With the first of their two fourth round picks, the Argonauts selected punter Max Duffy (Australia) from the University of Kentucky. Duffy won the Ray Guy Award in 2019 as the best punter in the NCAA with an astonishing 48.1 yard average punt. Duffy will almost certainly be the first punter drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft next month, and if he isn’t, he’ll definitely catch on somewhere as a UFA. With only 32 available NFL punting jobs, you never know, but with his numbers over the past two seasons, it would be shocking if he didn’t stick in the NFL.
The Argonauts wrapped up their draft by selecting WR/TE Sammis Reyes (Chile) out of Tulane. Reyes played baseball for the Green Wave, but turned his attention to football in hopes of getting selected this year’s NFL’s International Player Development Program like Tigie Sankoh. It turns out he didn’t need to worry about that. His pro day was so impressive that the Washington Football Team signed him to a contract outright, bypassing the process all together. At 6’5”, 260lbs, Reyes’ 40” vertical leap and 4.65 second 40 was more than good enough. Will he stick in Washington? It’s impossible to predict, but he’d be an exciting redzone weapon and a monster on special teams if he ever ends up in the CFL.
Overall, the 2021 CFL Global Draft was a success for the Toronto Argonauts. Like current Global Argonauts RB Asnnel Robo, Sato and Sankoh have the skill to compete immediately for playing time, and the potential to make an impact. Duffy and Reyes, meanwhile were both worth the gamble considering the other options remaining in the fourth round. Anyone else the Argonauts could have taken in the fourth wouldn’t make the roster, Global player designation or not. It’s slightly disappointing the Argonauts were unable to pick up one of the promising linemen available, but they never got a chance to select Nielson due to their draft position, and Ferguson would have been too much of a reach in the second round.
Toronto Argonauts Global Draft Grade: A-