On Cloud Nine? The First players Ever selected in a CFL European Draft

On Cloud Nine? The First players Ever selected in a CFL European Draft
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The CFL has held its first ever European Draft. Nine players were selected from the original 18 who went to the CFL combine.

That selection represents one player per CFL team. As we saw, those picks were pre-decided by a lottery. Because of that the Hamilton tiger-Cats went first and selected french defensive lineman Valentin Gnahoua with the first overall pick.

This marks the second draft of ‘global players’. Following on as it does from January’s first ever CFL-LFA draft held in Mexico City.

Breaking it down

Over on the CFL website they have broken the draftees down. There you will see that there are 4 french players, 3 German, 1 Finn and 1 Italian.

You will also see that by position there are 3 Wide Receivers, 3 Linebackers, 2 defensive Linemen and a running back.

All of which is fascinating. For me though it overlooks the most important thing reflected in this draft. The strength of the German Football League.

Strength of the GFL

In total the CFL has secured partnerships with a range of European federations. They include Germany, Austria, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Italy.

That German relationship may be the most beneficial at the moment though. The GFL is regarded as perhaps the strongest american football league in Europe.

Of the nine players selected, three ply their trade at a North American college. That means of the six not playing in North America five come from GFL teams.

They are:

Winnipeg selection: Thiadric Hansen (LB) of the Potsdam Royals.

Saskatchewan selection: Max Zimmerman (WR) also of the Potsdam Royals.

Toronto selection: Marc Anthony Hor (DL) of the Frankfurt Universe.

Calgary Selection: Roni salonen (LB) of the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions.

Hamilton’s number one overall pick: Valentin Gnahoua (DL) of the Berlin Rebels.


The nine players selected are trailblazers. The first form their country to make it through a CFL combine and potentially onto a roster.

What role the nine players may have with their new teams is not yet known. Partly because we don’t know how they’ll fit the ration or onto a roster.

Also because we don’t know how a new collective bargaining agreement may affect them. That agreement will decide if they are to be viewed as national or international players for the purposes of CFL roster building.

we do know however that this is an exciting time for them. They can dream of making it, maybe as a special-teamer onto a CFL team. What an inspiration they would be for other European players then.


Pick Team Name Position
1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats Valentin Gnahoua DL
2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers Thiadric Hansen LB
3 Montreal Alouettes Asnnel Robo RB
4 Edmonton Eskimos Maxime Rouyer LB
5 Toronto Argonauts Marc Anthony Hor DL
6 Saskatchewan Roughriders Max Zimmermann REC
7 BC Lions Benjamin Plu REC
8 Ottawa REDBLACKS Jordan Bouah REC
9 Calgary Stampeders Roni Salonen LB

Banner image from the Toronto Star

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