CAFL – Professional American Indoor Football in China

Second CAFL Draft Produces “Firsts”

Wayne, PA (July 14, 2017) By Mick Moninghoff

The 2017 China Arena Football League Draft saw 36 players selected.  During the process a few “firsts” were achieved.  The Shenyang Black Rhinos and Wuhan Gators took part in their first ever draft as Shenyang relocated from Dalian and Wuhan moved from Shenzhen at the end of last season.  Two of the Black Rhinos entered the record book even before taking a snap for their new team. Quarterback Chris Dieker became the first player to be drafted by two different teams and wide receiver Zheng Yu Fan had the distinction of being the first player drafted twice by the same franchise.

Dieker was picked first overall by Shenyang as the Black Rhinos needed a quarterback after releasing Phillip Garcia and Jawad Yatim in the offseason.  It marked the second time that Dieker has been drafted by a CAFL team.  Last season the former Arena Football League QB was taken in the seventh round by CAFL Champion Beijing and had an outstanding season which saw him play quarterback, wide receiver and even some defensive back for the Lions.  The 6’5”, 235 pounder had the most rushing attempts for his team last season with 19 carries for 59 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 123 yards and four scores while completing five of seven passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.  Dieker became the only player in CAFL history to record touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving in the same game and helped the Lions to the China Bowl title over Qingdao with nine receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in the championship game.

Fan, who hails from Fujian Ningde, was selected in the 12th round by the Dalian Dragon Kings last season.  The 5’8”, 187 pound receiver did not catching a pass a season ago and was released at the end of the year.  Robert Gordon, his new head coach in Shenyang, watched Fan’s off season work outs and decided to give him another shot and selected the Shanghai University of Engineering and Technology graduate as the 31st selection in the sixth round.  12 of the first 15 selections were Chinese players. Only six more were chosen with the final 21 picks.

In a sport where passing the football is the norm, only four quarterbacks were selected. In addition to Dieker, the Guangzhou Power picked Yiqing Shi who impressed coach Ernesto Purnsley at the combine in Shanghai with the 15th choice in the third round. Shi was the only Chinese quarterback drafted.  Others who could also play the position are DeAndre Perry, a QB/WR, who was taken by Beijing in the fifth round with the 30th selection and Jarred Evans who is listed as a DB/QB/LB who was picked 32nd overall in the sixth round by Wuhan.

The Glamour position in this draft turned out to be linemen as almost half of those chosen, 17 in all, were projected to play on the offensive or defensive line.  Nine current Arena Football League players were selected with three coming from the roster of the Cleveland Gladiators, two each from the Tampa Bay Storm and the Philadelphia Soul, and one apiece from the Washington Valor and the Baltimore Brigade.

The Gladiators saw defensive back Marrio Norman taken by Shanghai with the 10th pick while Nick Seither (OL/DL) went to Beijing with the 18th selection and Bret Piekarski (OL) was the 29th pick of Qingdao.  Tampa Bay’s Raymond McNeil (OL) was selected by Shanghai as the 16th pick and Monte Lewis (DL) was the choice of Guangzhou at 29. Washington’s offensive lineman Dionte Savage went 20th to Wuhan and Baltimore’s Dexter Lewis (DL) was the 21st pick by Guangzhou. Besides Norman the only current non-linemen in the AFL selected were  Philadelphia wide outs Darius Reynolds, going 27th to Guangzhou, and Poppy Livers was the 36th pick by Beijing.

About the China Arena Football League (CAFL):

The CAFL is China’s only Professional American Football League. Each professional team is comprised of a total of 22 players, 11 Chinese and 11 Foreigners, (mostly from America).

The CAFL enjoys a multi-year working formal partnership with China’s Sports Bureau’s China Rugby Football Association (CRFA), which has been a driving force behind the success of the CAFL.

For more information please contact:

Lou Tilley, VP CAFL Communications and Media


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