DRAFT: Coach happy with picks
Criner sings praises of offensive, defensive
KEVIN IOLE - Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Outlaws coach Jim Criner sang the same tune for a
third day in a row Monday. If he is right, the Outlaws could
be celebrating at the end of the first XFL season.
was ecstatic about the Outlaws' haul in the first XFL Draft,
which completed with 34 rounds Monday. After making 11 territorial
selections and 59 draft picks, the veteran coach said he couldn't
believe his good fortune.
feel very, very good about the kind of team we have," Criner
said. "Starting defensively, it's a very physical group
of guys with a lot of big, strong guys to push the pocket and
run stoppers who have the lateral movement to squeeze things
off. We've got what I consider to be very good team speed defensively
and a lot of very smart football players."
heaped similar praise on the offense. The Outlaws drafted a
handful of familiar names Monday, notably ex-University of Miami
quarterback Ryan Clement and guard Ike Davis, a four-year starter
with the Oakland Raiders, but for the most part, the Outlaws
passed on big names.
Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam went to the Memphis Maniax
and ex-Heisman runner-up Troy Davis was chosen by the lasvegas
Criner preferred to concentrate on the players he rated highest
and not those with the biggest marquee value.
best way to sell this football team is by playing tough, aggressive,
winning football," Criner said. "With the players
we chose, we've got the pieces in place to do that."
third day of the draft featured more of an emphasis on skill-position
players by the Outlaws, who began the day with just one quarterback
and two running backs. But Las Vegas chose three more quarterbacks
and got more guys to run the ball than it could possibly use.
is looking for internal competition and believes he got it.
He said the Outlaws drafted plenty of speed -- at least four
players have run 4.4-second or better 40-yard dashes -- as well
as power to rush between the tackles.
of the players, Tyrone Edwards, a 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pounder
who now lives in Las Vegas, played college football at California
where he started at tailback and safety.
a guy who can get outside for you, but if you need him to, he
can pound it up inside," Criner said. "We wanted to
have that ability to pound, pound, pound, and we think we got
it. We have a lot of 300-pounders up front, but you won't see
any big pot bellies hanging over belts with these guys. They're
all great athletes in great shape. So we can line up with a
huge line and a big back and really get after you if we want
to go that way."
Outlaws also got two of the three kickers they had targeted.
Criner would like to use one player to handle kickoffs, field
goals, extra points and punts and believes he found two who
can do that in Marcus Williams of Arizona State and Michael
Scott of Bakersfield Junior College.
teams will have 38-man active rosters and a seven-man taxi squad
for each game, and, with that small of a roster, Criner doesn't
want to waste a spot on two specialists.
is about a 43- or 44-yard average punter
with good hang time, he's accurate on field
goals and he can get it inside the 5 on
kickoffs," Criner said. "Michael
has the ability to get it into the end zone
on kickoffs and is also a very accurate
field-goal kicker, but he's not as consistent
a punter. There was one other guy we liked
who wasn't drafted, so if these guys don't
pan out the way we thought, this other kid
will be there waiting in the wings for us.
Because of that, we feel our kicking game
is solid, too."