Tampa Bay Vipers XFL Draft Recap

With the XFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look at how the Tampa Bay Vipers fared in each phase of the draft.

Quarterback Assignment: Aaron Murray, Georgia

A Tampa native, Murray was the first player with Florida ties, but certainly not the last, to become a Viper over the two-day draft period. While many assigned QBs had long been linked to the XFL, Murray was one that came out of left field. After a prolific college career in the SEC where he threw for 121 touchdowns and just 41 interceptions, Murray was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

A backup who bounced around practice squads, Murray found himself out of the league in 2017. He resurfaced with the Alliance of American Football earlier this year, playing for the Atlanta Legends. Murray’s strengths are his accuracy and his ability to move in the pocket, taking off as a runner when necessary. Head Coach Marc Trestman runs a version of the West Coast Offense, where Murray’s lack of arm strength can be hidden and his smarts can be utilized. Despite being a Tier 1 quarterback, I don’t believe he’ll be handed the job in camp and will have to fend off challenges from Taylor Cornelius and Vinny Testaverde Jr.

 

Phase One: Skill Players

If fortune favors the bold, the Vipers will be set up for a strong first season in the XFL. With the fifth overall pick in the round, Tampa made the first surprise of the day in picking TE Nick Truesdell. He was the first tight end selected, and the second one wasn’t chosen until pick 26. You could say Tampa pounced on the best tight end in the draft; you could also say that, because of the snake format, they had to wait until pick 12 to make their next choice, limiting their options of the top wideouts and backs.

Truesdell was on-and-off the New York Jets camp roster this summer after blowing up the AAF and leading all tight ends in receiving. He has taken a circuitous route to get to this point, with stops in the Indoor Football League and Arena Football League. He was one of two TEs taken by the Vipers in this phase, joined by Cole Wick out of Incarnate Word. Truesdell goes 6’5″ while Wick stands 6’6″.

Just ahead of Truesdell in AAF receiving was Seantavius Jones, who was Tampa’s second pick. Jones goes 6’4″, so whatever QB wins the training camp battle will have some big bodies to throw to. He was a part of a WR-rich New Orleans Saints team in 2014 and 2015. Four other receivers were taken during this phase, none under 6’0″. Given the picks here, it was clear this staff wasn’t going to be mesmerized by big names or big schools, as they took several under-the-radar players from small schools.

Rounding out the phase were two running backs and a quarterback. Not every team took a second QB in this phase, and while Cornelius was picked later (ninth round out of ten), he’s younger than Murray and could present a camp challenge in his first year as a pro. At 6’6″ and 232 pounds, the former walk-on from Oklahoma State won’t be overwhelmed by the competition. The running back selections were interesting. De’Veon Smith is a big back whose slow 40-yard dash time (4.85) at the 2017 NFL Combine likely led to his undrafted status. He’s almost exclusively an early-down runner.

He’ll be paired with Quinton Flowers, who played his college games at Raymond James Stadium, where the Vipers will call home. Flowers was a college QB who could be for the Vipers what Taysom Hill is for the Saints. If nothing else, he provides a contrast to what Smith brings to the table out of the backfield.

 

Phase Two: Offensive Linemen

Twelve of the first thirteen overall picks of this phase were offensive tackles. I’ll give you one guess as to what team bucked that trend. Yes, it was the Vipers, who selected UCF center Jordan McCray with the fourth overall pick. The same pros and cons of picking a TE over WR and RB also apply here. This was not a draft deep at the pivot, so McCray will anchor the line from the middle.

Tampa clearly scouted the AAF hard, as McCray participated there and has been in a number of NFL camps since 2014. That gives him experience in different types of offenses. The second pick may be their most intriguing, as the Vipers took OT Martez Ivey out of Florida (one of 15 players with Florida ties drafted by this franchise). Ivey was a heralded five-star recruit out of high-school who never developed into a top-tier tackle in college.

Offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch will have a big piece of clay to mold during camp to get Ivey to where he needs to be for this team to be successful. Worth noting that Tampa took seven guards and just two tackles, so the expectation could be that those two tackles will bookend the line. If that’s the case, Ivey will be joined by Christian Morris from Mississippi. Some of the guards may be able to cross-train at tackle.

Andrew Tiller is a former sixth-round pick of the Saints and has 28 NFL games played to his name. Tre Jackson was a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2015. This doesn’t strike me as a strong group; there are players with substantial upside but who have underachieved or don’t have much experience. Then again, that may be symptomatic of the offensive line pool available.

 

Phase Three: Defensive Front Seven

Of the ten picks in this phase, four were defensive ends, two were defensive tackles, and four were linebackers. With the first pick in the phase, Tampa Bay this time went with the conventional wisdom, taking Oregon State pass rusher Obum Gwacham. Gwacham may not make it to mini-camp in December, as he has been on the NFL workout loop since being released by the Indianapolis Colts in final cuts. He tried out as recently as October 8 with the Colts.

Gwacham is an explosive athlete and a former WR, so he’s still learning the nuances of the defensive end position. He can play end or linebacker depending on coordinator Jerry Glanville’s scheme. That flexibility will be an advantage. Deiontrez Mount, Tampa’s second pick in this phase, has similar positional flexibility. A former Tennessee Titans draft pick, Mount, also like Gwacham, has NFL game experience. He’s more of a strength player who can run defend, posing as a compliment to Gwacham’s pass-rushing prowess.

Ricky Walker was a strong undrafted free-agent out of Virginia Tech this past year. He’ll work in the defensive tackle rotation with Josh Banks, who’s a little more stout than Walker. The Vipers posted a neat video of LB Lucas Wacha revealing his destination to the high-school football team he’s coaching:

The one other name that stands out from this group is the final choice, DE Devin Taylor. He was a fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2013 and has 63 NFL games to his name. He also, you guessed it, played in the AAF in the spring.

 

Phase Four: Defensive Backfield

Seven corners and three safeties were the count for this phase of the draft. First-and-second-round picks Arrion Springs and Picasso Nelson are young and inexperienced at the pro level, which makes the selection of Demontre Hurst in the third round all the more valuable. He has seven years as a pro under his belt, most of those years with the Chicago Bears, though he recently was in the CFL.

Springs had been a starter since his sophomore year at Oregon and can play inside or outside. Nelson was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was never a real threat to crack their once-deep defensive backfield.

Micah Hannemann and Marcelis Branch are the top two safeties, but the final safety pick may be the most recognizable: Robenson Therezie out of Auburn, who made the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free-agent in 2015 and has played in 25 games.

This is another position where the Vipers chose youth over some of their more veteran counterparts.

 

Phase Five: Open

While some teams didn’t even draft specialists, Tampa Bay stocked up. They took two kickers, a punter, and a long-snapper. Andrew Franks was their first kicker taken. He spent two years with the Miami Dolphins where he connected on 78.4% of his field goals. At punter, the Vipers went with Jacob Schum who, like Franks, legged out two years in the NFL. Schum averaged 42.6 yards per punt with a 38.5 net with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 and the Green Bay Packers in 2016. Long snapper Nick Moore was in camp with the Saints this year. He was rated by many as one of the top snappers to enter the NFL Draft this past spring.

A second kicker, Matthew Wright of UCF, was also chosen. Like at the QB spot, it doesn’t hurt to have a little competition, especially when you’re either picking your 10th linebacker who has little chance of making the team, or creating real competition at a position. Wright left UCF last season as their career leader in field goals and points. He camped with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After taking just two RBs in the skill position phase, Tampa Bay opted for three in the open phase, adding DJ May, Ralph Webb, and Jacques Patrick. Patrick may be the most intriguing: Heavily recruited out of high-school, he attended Florida State and is another size and power back. Webb is a speedster with a 4.48 40. May, a former linebacker who had injury and off-the-field issues at Wyoming, is worth a flier.

Tampa sacrificed a little size in the WR room when they took Auburn’s all-time leader in receptions, Ryan Davis, in the open phase. Davis is just 5’9″ and could end up in the slot. Freddie Martino is another player with both NFL and AAF field time. Same with LB Terrance Plummer, as the Vipers added some nice depth pieces in the final phase.

Vincent Testaverde Jr, whose father spent five years with the Bucs, will stay close to home. Vincent also attended Buccaneers training camp this summer. He’ll have to prove he was more than just a sentimental pick. DT Nikita Whitlock has crossed paths with members of this coaching staff in the CFL. He also doubles as a fullback.

 

Conclusion

While the XFL spurned the idea of allocating players by location, some teams sorted that out themselves, including the Vipers, whose draft has a distinct Florida flair. It’s great for marketing a team before the season begins, but ultimately wins and losses will determine fan support in South Florida. The scouts and coaching staff also seemed to value those who played in the AAF. It could make the transition to the XFL easier having already gone through a similar iteration recently.

Tampa Bay took the first tight end and center of the draft, and built their receiving corps around size to fit Trestman’s West Coast offensive philosophy. Offensive line and defensive back positions are largely untested based on the group they’ll bring to camp, but it’s possible those areas will be improved through the supplemental draft(s) the league will hold, and through usual training camp roster churn.

New York Guardians Draft Recap

The XFL’s one-of-a-kind football league draft has officially ended, with 8 teams drafting 70 players, and one signed quarterback being added to each of their rosters.

The teams themselves all adopted their identities nearly two months ago, with logos, names and colors, but it was actually the last two days of drafting players, where the teams true football identities were formed.

For the New York Guardians Head Coach/GM Kevin Gilbride, his coaching staff and the front office, the two days of drafting on Tuesday and Wednesday brought an infusion of talent they hope can accomplish their vision of the type of team they want on the field.

Let’s take an in-depth look at The New York Guardians football team, and the draft which formed it. Before we recap all five phases of their draft. The first step taken in initially setting the tone for the franchise was the assignment of it’s projected starting signal caller.

Quarterback Assignment – QB Matt McGloin, Penn State/Raiders/Eagles/Texans/Chiefs

Matt McGloin (Wikipedia)

McGloin will be 30 when the XFL season starts in February. He gives the Guardians a steady veteran hand to lead the newly formed team right out the gate. If anyone fits the mold of a player playing in, what amounts to some, as a league for underdogs, it’s Matt McGloin. He knows how to battle and fight from underneath. McGloin knows what it’s like when no one thinks you are worthy enough of being on the field. He was a walk on who started out as a third string QB for the Nittany Lions, but through grit and determination, and some adversity along the way, McGloin ended up winning over his teammates and the university. In 2012, McGloin won the Burlsworth Trophy, an award and honor given annually to the most outstanding FBS college football player who started out their career as a walk on. McGloin ended his playing days at Penn State with 46 touchdowns, which is ranked 2nd in school history.

McGloin’s path into professional football went the same way it started for him in college. McGloin was an undrafted backup quarterback for the Raiders, the pro football equivalent of being a walk on. McGloin started out as a third stringer, only to somehow find his way onto the field in his rookie season. He ended up winning over the Raiders fan base and his teammates with the same grit he showed at Penn State. The team was in turmoil and transition but McGloin led them to victory, throwing three touchdowns in his first ever start. He battled all the way through his rookie season, throwing for the 2nd most yards per game by an undrafted rookie in NFL history. Before year two for him began, McGloin was back to being a third stringer, a role he would mostly hold for the rest of his time in the NFL. It wasn’t always pretty but whenever he was called into action. McGloin held his own. He was never cast as the lead actor but always seemed to play his part well when called upon.

Kevin Gilbride’s offense will be a mix of his own experience and philosophies, and that of his assistants, GA Mangus (QB’s) and Mike Miller (WR’s). Gilbride will be his own offensive coordinator and will initially call the plays. Gilbride has run and shoot roots, but his offenses over the years have been a mix of spreading teams out and playing in power run heavy sets. McGloin has the ability to adapt on the fly and improvise if need be, but he can also stay within a game plan if called upon. It’s why teams trusted him to come out of the bullpen in the NFL. McGloin always seemed to operate his best when things broke down around him, which unfortunately was often. McGloin’s teammates in the draft will help dictate the style of offense that he operates within. Every one of the 70 players drafted have varying levels of experience in the NFL.

PHASE 1 (SKILL PLAYERS)

RD1. DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (3)
RD2. Mekale McKay, WR, Cincinnati (14)
RD3. Tanner Gentry, WR, Wyoming (19)
RD4. Tim Cook, RB, Oregon State (30)
RD5. Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston (35)
RD6. EJ Bibbs, TE, Iowa State (46)
RD7. Keith Towbridge, TE, Louisville (51)
RD8. Justin Stockton, RB, Texas Tech (62)
RD9. Darius Victor, RB, Towson (67)
RD10. Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina (78)

The Guardians strategy for their offensive skill players was a unique one, and fit with Kevin Gilbride’s hybrid offensive style. New York attacked the WR position early, picking 4 WR’s in their first 5 selections, just in case you thought Gilbride was going back to his old run and shoot days. The second half of the draft was focused mostly on the ground game, and a two tight end set with Bibbs and Towbridge. Gilbride even added a big strong armed mobile QB in Marquise Williams, who can be an asset during games if needed, in specific short yardage or conversion situations. Williams is talented enough to lead the entire offense if need be.

This is going to be a versatile offense that shifts personality in game. The three backs, Tim Cook, Justin Stockton and Darius Victor are all different style runners. Cook is a powerful no nonsense inside runner. Stockton has playmaking ability in the run and pass game. Victor is a shifty back who can make people miss. This backfield harkens back to Gilbride’s championship offenses in New York that featured a commitee backfield with the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. That backfield’s position coach was Jerald Ingram, who is now back with Gilbride with the Guardians.

Mekale McKay is a big 6’4 target who can win in the red zone. Very similar to what Plaxico Burress was for Gilbride. It’s hard not to see hints of the Giants offense here with the types of players selected. Gentry is an ideal slot receiver who can also work on the oustide. DeAngelo Yancey can be the centerpiece of this passing game. He has always had the physical tools. He’s going to get a real shot to be the featured receiver in this offense, but I expect a lot of different players to be utilized. It’s going to be a multiple style offense.

PHASE 2 (OFFENSIVE LINEMAN)

RD1. Jarron Jones, T, Notre Dame (6)
RD2. Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama (11)
RD3. Parker Collins, C, Appalachian State (22)
RD4. Anthony Coyle, G, Fordham (27)
RD5. Zac Kerin, G, Toledo (38)
RD6. Brian Fineanganofo, T, Idaho State (43)
RD7. John Kling, T, Buffalo (54)
RD8. Ian Silberman, G, Boston College (59)
RD9. Nate Theaker, T, Wayne State (70)
RD10. Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama (75)

When your team is named The Guardians. You better have good protectors up front. This is a textbook, by the numbers, drafting of a potential starting offensive line, from one through five. A left tackle in Jarron Jones. right tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, the center Parker Collins, and the two guards Coyle and Kerin on the interior at guard. Jones is a former college defensive lineman who has converted to the offensive line since becoming a pro in 2017. He has freakishly long arms (35 1/2 inches) and is a mauler when he gets his hands on you. It’s not uncommon for players to transition successfully from the defensive line to the offensive line, and former Jets All Pro Brandon Moore comes to mind. Where the Guardians really did well was drafting lineman six through ten. Kling and Silberman really stand out as quality lineman who can be starters. Brian Fineanganofo is an undrated Tackle from Idaho State, who tested off the charts. He was with the Browns this past summer. It’s a great story that Arie Kouandjio is joining his brother on this team. The “Bama” brothers have had rocky careers since turning pro, but they have never been lacking for talent. Being on the same team may be great for the both of them.

PHASE 3 (DEFENSIVE FRONT 7)

RD1. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas (7)
RD2. Joey Mbu, DT, Houston (10)
RD3. Austin Larkin, DE, Purdue (23)
RD4. TJ Barnes, DT, Georgia Tech (26)
RD5. Nick DeLuca, LB, North Dakota State (39)
RD6. D’Juan Hines, LB, Houston (42)
RD7. Jarrell Owens, DE, Oklahoma State (55)
RD8. Cavon Walker, DT, Maryland (58)
RD9. Garrison Smith, DT, Georgia (71)
RD10. Rykeem Yates, DE, Nevada (74)

No surprise here that a Jim Herrmann coordinated defense would draft a linebacker first. After all, he played inside linebacker for legendary coach Bo Schembechler’s Michigan Wolverines. Herrmann would go on to be the defensive coordinator of his alma-mater, winning a national championship in 1997, and receiving the Frank Broyles award as the top asssistant coach in the nation. He’s coached linebackers his whole career, including stints in New York with the Jets and winning a SuperBowl with the Giants. Ben Heeney fits the bill of getting the nod as the quarterback of the defense. The issue with Heeney has always been his ability to stay healthy. The Guardians went heavy on the defensive line, literally and figuratively, drafting 7 lineman including experienced space eaters in TJ Barnes and Joey Mbu early. D’Juan Hines at linebacker could be the steal of this group. He’s very athletic and extremely intelligent. A four-time Academic All American at Houston, Hines originally started out as a QB and WR before transitioning to safety and then settling in at linebacker. He was a late bloomer in college, was All-AAC. Hines has been on 3 different NFL teams in the last year. He was cut by the Chiefs last month at cutdown day. There is untapped potential here and a lot of talent in this player. Hines could be emerge as one of the better 3-down backers in the league.

PHASE 4 (DEFENSIVE BACKS)

RD1. Jamar Summers, CB, UConn (2)
RD2. Lorenzo Doss, CB, Tulane (15)
RD3. David Rivers, CB, Youngstown State (18)
RD4. Dravon Askew-Henry, S, West Virginia (31)
RD5. Demetrious Cox, S, Michigan State (34)
RD6. Andrew Soroh, S, FAU (47)
RD7. Jeremiah McKinnon, CB, FAU (50)
RD8. Terrence Alexander, CB, LSU (63)
RD9. Nydair Rouse, CB, West Chester (66)
RD10. Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU (79)

New York drafted 7 corners in this phase. You could argue that the best draft pick New York had in their entire draft was Jamar Summers, as he was one of the top cover corners in the AAF earlier this year. He surprisingly missed the cut in the NFL,  despite being ranked so highly by Pro Football Focus. Summers will be an NFL corner in 2020 if he plays as well or better in the XFL’s wide open passing league. New York then followed up the Summers pick nicely with a true ballhawk in Lorenzo Doss. This corner tandem should be one of the league’s better ones. Much like how New York did at WR in the skill draft. The team drafted 3 straight corners each with distinctive roles. David Rivers is a small school player with big talent. He could very well play inside, or outside, and move Doss into the nickel position.

PHASE 5 OPEN DRAFT

QB- Garrett Fugate, Central Missouri State
RB- Matthew Colburn, Wake Forest
FB- Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest
RB- Lawrence Pittman, Wingate
WR- J-Shun Harris, Indiana
WR- Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
WR- Colby Pearson, BYU
WR- Justice Liggins, Stephen F. Austin
WR- Octayvius Miles, Alabama A & M
WR- Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
TE- Jake Powell, Monmouth
TE- Jake Sutherland, Morehead State
C- Garrett Brumfield, Louisiana State
OT- Thomas Doles, Northwestern
OT- Adrian Bellard, Texas State
DT- Toby Johnson, Georgia
DT- Bunmi Rotini, Old Dominion
DE- Victor Ochi, Stony Brook
DE- Malik Harris, Incarnate Word
DE- George Johnson, Rutgers
DE- Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
LB- Darnell Leslie, Monmouth
LB- Frank Ginda, San Jose State
LB- Robert McCray, Indiana
LB- Jawuan Johnson, TCU
CB- Dejuan Neal, Shepherd
S- Max Lyons, SE Louisiana
S- Wes Sutton, Northern Arizona
LS- Scott Daly, Notre Dame

In theory, this group is supposed to fill out the bottom end of a roster, players 41 through 71 in camp. The Guardians drafted 30 players in this phase, 15 on offense, 14 on defense, and a quality long snapper in Notre Dame’s Scott Daly. The issue for this brief moment in time is that Daly has no one to snap the ball to. Even if The Guardians plan on reimagining 4th down and never punting or kicking field goal, they still need to kick the ball off. Looks like New York took advantage of the openness of this phase of the draft. There were no rules in place for specific position drafting in this portion of the draft. So New York decided to load up on as many offensive and defensive players as they wanted. Mini-camp does not begin until December, so technical New York doesn’t have to add a kicker or punter till then. The league is expected to have a supplemental draft before mini-camps begin, so it will all resolve itself.

As for the non-kickers in this group. Two of the better open draft players selected in the entire league were Fullback Tommy Bohanon and WR/KR Quadree Henderson. The position of fullback has been deemphasized somewhat in the pro and college game, but the few teams that do utlize it well, benefit. Bohanon is one of the better fullbacks out there and he was last seen prominently paving the way for Leonard Fournette during his great rookie season. Henderson is a game breaker and a useful gadget player that could be an X-factor in the league’s new proposed kickoff.

Conclusion

A lot can change on this roster between now and the start of The XFL season on February 8th, when the games air every week on ABC, Fox and ESPN.

These types of leagues are supported by fans, scouts and coaches for one single reason… the players. It’s the sole reason to start a pro football league to begin with.

The New York Guardians were a team in name only prior to this draft. The players have finally arrived. They are now officially a real football team.

The Key D’s for Dallas on Draft Day

The first day of the historical XFL Draft has come to an end with one more day of draft picks coming ahead for the 8 XFL teams on Wednesday. We saw a combination of former college stars, NFL starters, Alliance of American Football stars, and small school unknowns find homes.

Dallas Renegades head coach Bob Stoops and his staff came in with a plan and strategy on who they were going after and it was clear from their first pick in the draft. Here are the important D’s that were seen with their day one draft strategies.

D – Dash

It might be safe to say that Bob Stoops’ new nickname should be “Ricky Bobby” because he made it known that he wants his offense to go fast, fast, fast. There is a ton of speed at the running back and receiver positions.

It was clear this was their vision when three of their first four draft picks were wide receivers including Jeff Badet (4.27 second 40 yard dash), TommyLee Lewis (4.45 second 40 yard dash), and Stacy Coley (4.45 second 40 yard dash). Height was not a factor in Stoops’ decision as well as neither of those three players are taller than 6 foot 1 inches. Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme is known for being the architect of his fast-paced air raid offense so it’s no surprise that they want speed and a lot of it. The height issues could be seen as a negative for the team, but it may not matter if these guys are flying past corners on deep balls. It’s safe to say though that new Renegades quarterback Landry Jones should be leading the league in pass attempts in general and pass attempts of more than 20 yards easily.

New running back Cameron Artis-Payne may not be as fast as he is more of a power back, but his new teammates, Lance Dunbar and Dimitri Flowers, may have other ideas about that. Dunbar being a familiar name for Dallas Cowboys fans know of his skill set as he was a reliable receiver out of the backfield so expect to see him on a lot of third down and long plays. While Flowers has surprising speed for a former fullback (4.45 second 40 yard dash) and will make for a nice complementary back that is more in between what Artis-Payne and Dunbar are.

D – Dependable

What do I mean by dependable? My definition is talking about the players that Stoops can rely on as his former players at Oklahoma. He drafted four of his former players that were impact players during their time in college.

Easily, the biggest name from his old school was his quarterback Landry Jones. Jones threw for over 16,000 yards under Stoops leading to him being drafted by the Steelers in the NFL. Badet, as mentioned before, was more well known for what he did at Kentucky before transferring to OU in his final year of college, but he displayed speed and should be a deep threat early for Jones. Flowers was also mentioned in the previous D as showed off great speed for a fullback and will make an impact in pass blocking for Jones. Defensive end Frank Alexander was dominate for Stoops in his last two years of college as he combined for 15 sacks in the 2010 and 2011 seasons so it would be no surprise that Stoops will look at him to be the leader on the defensive line.

D – Defenders

Apologizes to the DC Defenders for stealing your name, but it is fitting to talk about the draft strategy that was in the minds of Stoops and his defensive coordinator Chris Woods. Woods is known for running a 3-4 defense during his time at Texas State and fans got to see some of that influence in their picks of their front seven. Linebackers Jonathan Massaquoi, Tegray Scales, Greer Martini and Ray Ray Davison all come from backgrounds of being in 3-4 defenses. Davison is a converted defensive lineman to linebacker which is what you typically see in an outside linebacker whose primary responsibility is coming off the edge to get to the quarterback. Massaquoi is an NFL veteran who played several years with the Atlanta Falcons that was known for having a 3-4 defense so he should help with the younger linebacker’s development. Scales and Martini were with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past preseason and the Green Bay Packers in 2018 that also ran 3-4 defenses so they should be able to plug in easily and adapt to the pros.

As for the defensive linemen, they made sure to pick up that were big enough to plug the middle of the line to disrupt any offense’s running game. Look for 324 lbs defensive tackle Sealver Siliga have no problems holding his own in the middle and should have great push off the line of scrimmage. Despite the Renegades getting lighter defensive tackles (the other 3 drafted were under 270 lbs), they did find defensive ends that should bring plenty off the edge. Quarterbacks in the XFL should fear the duo of Frank Alexander and Hau’oli Kikaha.

D – Dropping Back

Stoops and Mumme were looking for offensive linemen who would block their defenders in pass protection since we suspect they will be “dropping back” to pass plenty of times. Lineman like Willie Beavers, Pace Murphy, and Alex Balducci displayed great pass blocking skills and should be evident in all their selections at line. This is one of the deeper lines in the draft and all should compete for starting roles with Balducci looking like the leader in the middle of the line. Expect these linemen to be ready to be pass blocking 60-70% of the time in the air raid offense.

D – Draft Picks

Below is the full list of the day one picks for the Dallas Renegades:

Skill Players

T1 – Landry Jones, QB
1. Jeff Badet, WR
2. TommyLee Lewis, WR
3. Cameron Artis-Payne, RB
4. Stacy Coley, WR
5. Sean Price, TE
6. Kelvin McKnight, WR
7. Philip Nelson, QB
8. Lance Dunbar, RB
9. Donald Parham, TE
10. Dimitri Flowers, RB

Offensive Lineman

1. Willie Beavers, T
2. Pace Murphy, T
3. Maurquice Skakir, G
4. Darius James, T
5. Alex Balducci, C
6. Josh Allen, G
7. Adam Bisnowaty, T
8. Salesi Uhatafe, G
9. John Keenoy, G
10. Justin Evans, T

Front Seven

1. Hau’oli Kikaha, DE
2. Sealver Siliga, DT
3. Wilson Craig, DT
4. Ray Ray Davison, LB
5. Greer Martini, LB
6. Gelen Robinson, DT
7. Frank Alexander, DE
8. Jonathan Massaquoi
9. Tegray Scales, LB
10. Izaah Lunsford, DT

How will the Dallas Renegades win the battle? In the trenches…

It’s a wrap for phase two of the XFL draft and the Renegades roster is beginning to take shape.

In phase one, the Renegades main focus was clear. Speed is what they wanted and speed is what they got. In phase two,  the clear message Stoops and the Renegades are sending is that this team will be fast and  physical.

Where there is thunder, there is lightening.

The line of scrimmage is the “velvet rope” in VIP, the offensive line plays the role of the bouncer, and you will not get past the rope if your name is not on the list. Once you get your quarterback, and the offense is laced with several play makers, you add the muscle. The average weight of the offensive lineman selected in phase two is 312 lbs. Their combined weight is 3,126 lbs. That’s a lot of muscle.

Willie Beavers, offensive tackle from Western Michigan, headlined the first round of phase two. Beavers during his time at Western Michigan was named to the All MAC team twice and helped his running back win all conference honors as well.

Pace Murphy, offensive tackle from Northwestern State University, was the second round pick for the Renegades in phase two. Murphy was also a standout at Northwestern State earning Preseason All American honors and Pre-Season All-Southland Conference honors.

Beavers and Murphy will be the bookend couple at the tackle position that will put a bubble of protection around Landry Jones.

The heartbeat of the running game will consist of Maurquice Shakir (Midd Tenn State), Alex Balducci (Oregon) , and Josh Allen (Louisiana Monroe).

Shakir as a senior played more than 90 snaps in four games, and was an integral part of an offense that produced a 1,000 yard rusher.

Balducci, an converted defensive lineman turned guard will bring the same tenacity he did in the collegiate ranks, after earning All-Pac 12 honors for his efforts on the defensive line for his senior season.

Allen, product of Cedar Hill high school 20 minutes South of Dallas, earned All-Sun Belt honors during his junior season at Louisiana Monroe. He was apart of an offense that produce more than 500 total yards of offense in four of the first five games of the 2012-2013 season.

This offensive line is stacked with big bodies and bullies in the trenches on the offensive side.

In Phase three of the draft, let’s see what type of “war-daddies” Stoops can add to this very promising roster.

#RaisingHell Go Renegades!

Renegades #RaisingHell in XFL Draft Phase One

Phase 1 of the XFL draft is in the books and the Renegades made the most out of their selections.

The Renegades constructed an offensive coaching staff based around the ideal concepts of the Air Raid offense by hiring Bob Stoops and naming Hal Mumme the offensive coordinator. Now they have the on-field personnel to boot.

The Renegades will have a loaded running backs room with selections of running backs Cameron Artis-Payne, Dimitri Flowers and Lance Dunbar. All three running backs possess the ability to catch the ball, avoid tackles in open space, and breakaway speed.

With the selections of wide receivers Jeff Badet, return specialist TommyLee Lewis, Kelvin McKnight, and Stacy Coley, the Renegades will not lack in the yards after catch department.

The Renegades also doubled up on tight ends by selecting Sean Price and Donald Parham.

With Landry Jones at helm as the franchise quarterback, I am sure Stoops and his coaching staff are thrilled to see what this core can bring to their football club once training camp opens.

The most intriguing selection in my opinion was their selection of quarterback Phillip Nelson in the 7th round. It is clear the Renegades would like to add a level of depth to their offense and quarterback room. It is never a bad thing to have a back up who can come in take over while the offense never skips a beat.

In my opinion, the Renegades have accomplished the main goal of phase one, lock down the franchise guy, cater to the scheme, and provide depth at the most important position.

Now as phase two of the draft approaches, it’s time for the Renegades to go out and get some bullies on the offensive line to give their franchise quarterback time to deliver strikes, provide running room for this talented group of running backs, and to keep Jones upright. This is just the beginning.

Go Renegades! #RaisingHell

XFL Announces Initial Quarterback Assignments

Initial quarterback assignments for each of the XFL’s eight teams were announced Tuesday morning:

● DALLAS RENEGADES: Landry Jones 

● DC DEFENDERS: Cardale Jones 

● HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS: Philip Walker 

● LOS ANGELES WILDCATS: Luis Perez 

● NEW YORK GUARDIANS: Matt McGloin 

● ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS: Jordan Ta’amu 

● SEATTLE DRAGONS: Brandon Silvers 

● TAMPA BAY VIPERS: Aaron Murray 

“Our head coaches are excited about this first wave of quarterback assignments and the talent level in our draft pool,” said Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner and CEO. “We will continue to identify and sign the best players available, and we are confident this is a strong start to the next two days.”

PLAYER BIOS

Landry Jones, Dallas Renegades
Jones spent six seasons in the National Football League with the Pittsburgh Steelers and stints with the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Artesia, NM native attended the University of Oklahoma (2009-12), where he set Big 12 Conference records in passing yards (16,646), completions (1,388) and touchdown passes (123). As a senior, Jones earned All-Big 12 second-team honors. In 2010, he won the Sammy Baugh Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate passer.

Cardale Jones, DC Defenders
In 2014, after winning the Big Ten Championship Game MVP award, Jones led Ohio State to a national championship, despite starting that season as the third-string quarterback. The Cleveland native tallied 2,313 career passing yards with 19 total touchdowns in 23 games (11 starts). Drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2016, Jones spent three years with Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad. In 2019, he was signed to the Seahawks practice squad.

Phillip Walker, Houston Roughnecks
A four-year letter winner at Temple University (2013-2016), Walker is the Owls’ all-time leader in pass attempts (1,410), completions (803), passing yards (10,273), TD passes (72), and total offense (11,100). In 2015 and 2016, the New Jersey native led TU to two of their three 10-win seasons and their first ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history, along with their first conference title in 49 years (2016). Walker spent three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (2017-19 practice squad).

Luis Perez, LA Wildcats
In 28 career games (25-3) at Texas A&M – Commerce, Perez finished as the all-time leader in completions (665), passing yards (8,325) and passing TDs (78). In 2017, the Chula Vista, CA native led the Lions to the NCAA Division II Championship, while winning the Harlon Hill Division II Player of the Year award. That year, Perez set the single-season program records for pass attempts (596), pass completions (421), pass yards (4,999), passing touchdowns (46) and completion percentage (70.6). His professional career includes time with the Los Angeles Rams (2018 practice squad) San Antonio Commanders and Birmingham Iron of the AAF (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019 practice squad) and Detroit Lions (2019 practice squad).

Matt McGloin, New York Guardians
After an All-State high school career at West Scranton HS, in 2012 McGloin became the first walk-on QB to start at Penn State since 1949. He broke numerous records during his senior season including career touchdown passes (46), single-season passing yards (3,276) and single-season completions (270). He also earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors and won the Burlsworth Trophy. His NFL experience includes stints with the Oakland Raiders (2013-2016), Philadelphia Eagles (2017 practice squad), Houston Texans (2017) and Kansas City Chiefs (2018 practice squad).

Jordan Ta’amu, St. Louis BattleHawks
Jordan Ta’amu played two seasons at the University of Mississippi (2017-2018). As a junior in 2017, he played in eight games (started final 5 games) and tallied 1,682 passing yards with 11 touchdowns. In his senior campaign, the Hawaii native broke the Ole Miss single-season record for 400-yard passing games (4) and led the SEC in both passing yards per game and total offense. He finished 6th all-time in school history with 5,600 career passing yards and 9th in passing touchdowns. A former 2019 NFL Combine invitee, Ta’amu was signed and released by the Houston Texans in August 2019.

Brandon Silvers, Seattle Dragons
During his four years as a starter at Troy University, Silvers passed for 10,677 yards (second in school history) with a 64.4% completion rating and compiled 71 touchdowns with a passer rating of 135.8. As an All-Conference QB during his senior year, he led the Trojans to their best record in school history (11-2, 7-1 Sun Belt). After spending time with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, he started three games for the AAF’s Memphis Express last year (777 yards, 4 TDs) and signed with the New York Jets prior to training camp in 2019.

Aaron Murray, Tampa Bay Vipers
A high school All-American from Tampa, FL, Murray is the SEC’s all-time leader in completions (921), passing yards (13,166) and passing touchdowns (121). A four-year starter at the Univ. of Georgia, Murray also holds the top two passing touchdown records (36 in 2012, 35 in 2011) in school history, and won the MVP of the Florida Citrus/Capital One Bowl in 2013. Murray spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs (2014-2016), Arizona Cardinals (2016 practice squad), Philadelphia Eagles (2016 practice squad) and Los Angeles Rams (2017 practice squad). In 2019, Murray signed with the Atlanta Legends (AAF).

The XFL Draft is here! – October 15-16

The XFL draft will be run via a teleconference call connecting all eight XFL franchises. Results will be posted on XFL.com@xfl2020 on Twitter, @xfl on Instagram, and through the social media channels of the eight XFL teams.

Starting at 10 AM Eastern, each of the eight XFL teams will first be assigned a quarterback.

Then the draft will begin with selections of players from a list, currently comprised of 975 previously announced players. In each phase of the draft, teams will only be allowed to select players according to their position.

  • Skill Player: (Tue 15 Oct) (10 rounds) – Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
  • Offensive Line: (Tue 15 Oct) (10 rounds) – Tackles, guards and centers.
  • Defensive Front Seven: (Tue 15 Oct) (10 rounds) – Defensive line and linebackers.
  • Defensive Backfield: (Wed 16 Oct) (10 rounds) – Cornerbacks and safeties.
  • Open Draft: (Wed 16 Oct) (30 rounds) – Punters, Kickers, Long Snappers, and all remaining players.

The pick order will vary for each phase of the draft:

Phase  Pick Order
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Skill Phase DC HOU NY DAL TB STL SEA LA
OL Phase LA SEA STL TB DAL NYC HOU DC
D7 Phase TB STL SEA LA DC HOU NY DAL
DB Phase DAL NY HOU DC LA SEA STL TB
Open Phase STL NY SEA LA TB HOU DC DAL
Teams will have 90 seconds to make a selection. The league will use a “snake” format, which means the selection order reverses in each round. The draft will continue until each squad fills a 71-player roster.

How to follow the XFL draft?

As pointed out above, as-they-happen picks will be posted on XFL.com@xfl2020 on Twitter, @xfl on Instagram, and through the social media channels of the eight XFL teams. There will also be live studio updates in ESPN SportsCenter throughout the day.

Look to XFLBoard.com for draft day discussion, breaking draft news, and updates of the draft list and team rosters via our XFL DRAFT TRACKER . You will be able to see updated rosters as each XFL team builds their squad.

XFL wires up David Michael as Chief Technology Officer

David Michael, Chief Technology Officer, XFL

Stamford, Conn., Oct. 7, 2019 – The XFL today announced that David Michael has been named the league’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Most recently he was Chief Information Officer (CIO) for The Madison Square Garden Company and, before that, CIO for GroupM North America.

Michael will be responsible for developing and overseeing all enterprise, digital product and football technology strategies and initiatives for the league and its eight teams.

“The role of Chief Technology Officer at the XFL is mission-critical and David is a proven leader and innovator,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and COO. “We’re moving quickly to our kick-off in February 2020 and his arrival is perfectly timed.”

“I’m excited to join the XFL and looking forward to bringing new digital technology innovations to the game and fan experience,” added Michael, who will report to Pollack. “Vince McMahon, Jeffrey Pollack and Oliver Luck are building a world-class organization and it’s a privilege to be part of the team.”

As The Madison Square Garden Company’s CIO, Michael spearheaded a major customer-facing digital transformation program, in addition to overseeing enterprise-wide technology infrastructure, support and business applications. Prior to MSG, Michael successfully delivered major technology initiatives as CIO at GroupM North America, UBM Tech and PR Newswire.

Michael earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in computer science from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

Carlos Thompson hopes to go from “Last Chance U” to the XFL

Carlos Thompson, a wide receiver who hails from Houston, Texas, is best known as being featured as a player for the Independence Community College Pirates on season three of the Netflix series “Last Chance U”.

In 2017, as Carlos and his teammates were preparing for the football season, Netflix camera crews showed up. “It was just crazy,” Carlos said. “One day they just showed up with a bunch of trucks and everything and people started hopping out with cameras.”

According to Carlos, that event started a season where the team had cameras following them around almost 24/7.

“We had cameras following us just about every day, every second of the day. If you were waking up out of your room, or going to class, practice, anything like that, there was a camera,” Carlos explained. “It took some getting used to, you know, being on camera and just walking around having microphones and people around at all times.”

When asked about the gritty nature of the show, Carlos felt it showed exactly what it was like to be on a Junior College football team. “It shows the ups and the downs of JUCO, just how it really does get with just having to deal with certain struggles that you don’t have to deal with at universities.”

YouTube video

After his time at Independence, Carlos played with the Missouri Western State Griffons, where he was enthusiastic about his experience.

“That was also a great experience,” Carlos explained. “Just a great experience with great fans and great facilities and just great coaches. Everything about the school was a great experience.”

After one year at Missouri Western State, Carlos decided to forego his senior season and declared for the 2019 NFL draft.

“I was ready just to take that next step in my life, and chase a dream that I had been wanting ever since I was a small kid.”

Unfortunately, Carlos is still waiting to fulfil his dream to play professional football. However, after working out in a Spring League showcase, the XFL is now interested in his services. Carlos hopes to be selected by a team in next week’s XFL draft. He is confident he will be an asset to whatever team chooses him to be a part of their roster.

“Whatever team I end up on, I’m going to be not only just a great football player, but a great player in the community, and a great teammate, and a hard worker,” Carlos said. “I’m going to be somebody who can come in and just go to work and be a great presence in the community, just showing the children and all the fans and everybody that I care about the team and the city.”

When asked about the specific rules of the XFL, and the plans for a shortened play clock, Carlos revealed that he was part of a Spring League squad that helped test the XFL rules.

“I’ve actually gotten to experience the shortened clock just a little at the Spring League showcase. They were implementing some of the XFL rules,” Carlos explained. “You’re going to have to be in top shape, because you’re going to run one play and get right back on the line and be ready to go.”

Soon, at the XFL draft, we will see just how interested the XFL is about getting Carlos on a roster.

Carlos has the skills, he has the energy, and he also has confidence. When asked if we will witness him catching long balls for the XFL this February, he responded, “Yes sir we will. Yes sir.”

To hear more of the interview with Carlos Thompson, check out our XFL Xtra podcast “XFL Xtra Episode 6-2019 – Here comes the draft! – Carlos Thompson and Greg Parks”

 

XFL Xtra Episode 6-2019 – Here comes the draft! – Carlos Thompson and Greg Parks

Most people know Carlos Thompson from season three of the Netflix series “Last Chance U.” We talk to Carlos about his time with the Independence Community College Pirates, and discuss his upcoming opportunity to be drafted into the XFL. Greg Parks is our team reporter for the Tampa Bay Vipers, and a football fan who has been independently tracking prospective XFL players since the summer showcases. We will discuss the upcoming draft, and how the XFL is doing with one of their biggest undertakings so far.

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

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