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

Five NFL cuts the XFL needs to invite/sign

This weekend, 1,184 NFL players were let go from the 32 teams in the league. For every player playing this preseason, this is a chance for them to prove that they have what it takes to make a 53-man roster and make an impact on the league. What makes this cut period different from other years? The dream is not dead.

Thanks to the XFL starting play in February, players who were cut have a second to prove themselves and get another shot at continuing their football careers. We saw over 100 players from the AAF get signed to NFL teams after operations had closed in April. They got that shot because of how well they played in their time with the Alliance.

XFL officials met in Houston this weekend to keep track of all the cuts and determine who they should sign or invite to their XFL draft in October. I came up with five players that have impressed me to the point that Oliver Luck and the rest of the XFL should definitely reach out to about joining the league.

Karter Schult, DE
Karter Schult, DE

Karter Schult, DE – No doubt if Karter Schult was brought in by the XFL, he would be one of the most feared pass rushers in the league. He was one of the best defensive players in the AAF as he led the league with 49 quarterback pressures and third in sacks (7) and tackles for loss (11) in eight games with the Salt Lake Stallions. This past preseason with the Minnesota Vikings, he recorded 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 force fumble before being cut this past weekend. He has shown great strength and being able to beat offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. He possesses a high motor and shows great technique to get to the quarterback. This would be one player I would have on my list to add young talent on the defensive side of the ball.

Cardale Jones, QB
Cardale Jones, QB

Cardale Jones, QB – Cardale Jones has a rocket arm and with the proper training, can be a really good starting quarterback in the XFL. His story is incredible as it started at The Ohio State when he filled in for J.T. Barrett starting and winning the last three games of the 2014 season against Wisconsin (Big Ten Title Game), #1 Alabama (Playoff Semifinal), and Oregon (National Title). He would lose his job in the middle of the 2015 season to J.T. Barrett and decided to go to the NFL draft early. His NFL career has not been as great as he’s only played in one game playing for the Buffalo Bills and recently with the San Diego Chargers. His play improved this preseason with the Chargers as he completed 68% of his passes for 357 yards and two total touchdowns. He showed flashes of great QB play in the preseason, but with the proper coaching and development in the XFL, I can see Jones being a starter in the XFL day one.

Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR/Returner
Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR/Returner

Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR/Returner – This is too good of a story for the XFL to pass up on. He was homeless and sitting outside the Cleveland Browns facility prior to their tryout, was able to convince one of their employees that he knew someone in the front office and got his chance to prove himself. Not only did they sign him to the roster, but returned a punt for a touchdown in the first preseason game. You can’t make this stuff up. He possesses blazing speed, but didn’t really have many chances at proving himself as a receiver as he only had three total catches in five targets. He may need some more experience as a receiver, but as a return specialist, this guy could be the Dante Hall of the XFL. The XFL should look at him as a viable option.

Jayrone Elliott, Outside Linebacker
Jayrone Elliott, Outside Linebacker

Jayrone Elliott, Outside Linebacker – Another impressive pass rusher who dominated on defense in the AAF. In eight games with the San Antonio Commanders, he led the league with 7.5 sacks in eight games while also recording 18 tackles and four forced fumbles. His play helped lead the Commanders as one of the best defenses in the league and led the team to a 5-3 record. He also has plenty of NFL experience including three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, then bouncing around the league with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would make an immediate impact on the defensive side and would be an early candidate for defensive player of the year in the XFL. A no-brainer move for Oliver Luck to invite or sign him to the league.

Elliott Fry, K
Elliott Fry, K

Elliott Fry, K – He was one of the best kickers in the AAF as he has shown in the Alliance and this preseason that he is accurate, consistent, and has a leg on him. In 2019, he has not missed a field goal as he was 14 of 14 in field goals with the Orlando Apollos and was 4 for 4 with the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens in preseason including a 48 yard field goal made in the last preseason game. There is a good chance he gets called on if an injury happens in the NFL, but if there isn’t, the XFL should bring him on as he would be the best kicker in the league as he was proven his worth this year.

Honorable Mentions: Ethan Westbrooks (DE), Donnel Pumphrey (RB), Braxton Miller (WR), Sam Ficken (K), Jeremy McNichols (RB)


Johnny Football to Dallas? Don’t count on it…

Johnny Manziel 2014 Browns training camp

Johnny Manziel at one point was one of the most exciting quarterbacks to play the game when he was wearing the Texas A&M Aggies uniform. Since then? Not so much.

Manziel has bounced around since being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns back in 2014. He spent two seasons there before being cut from the team in 2016 and then proceeded to join the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League in 2018. After six weeks there, he got traded to the Montreal Alouettes, but after the 2018 season, he was released by the league after they had determined that he had “contravened” with his agreement with the league. He found a home shortly afterwards with the Memphis Express of the now defaulted Alliance of American Football. That’s where this story really begins.

Before joining the Express, the San Antonio Commanders had first claim on him since that was the team geographically closest to where he went to college. Commanders General Manager Daryl Johnston (former Dallas Cowboys fullback) waived his rights and that’s how he joined the Express. Johnston has never been the biggest fan of Manziel and that has been evident in the past, but he’s back in the news again regarding Manziel as he once again says he would pass on him.

“For me the chemistry in the locker room is critical, and especially the quarterback position,” now Dallas Renegades Director of Player Personnel Johnston said according to SportsDay. “He kind of sets the tone, especially for the offensive side of the ball, but really for the whole team. There is so much added responsibility that goes with the face, goes with the voice of the franchise. And I haven’t seen that from Johnny on a consistent basis that I would feel comfortable committing to him.”

There’s no question that Manziel’s troubled past has been the main reason he has not returned to the NFL, but the XFL is a league of second chances. This is where Manziel belongs for two reasons: 1. I have every reason to believe that he has truly matured with how he was with interviews with the Express when he played in the Alliance. 2. He would put people in the seats of every XFL football stadium no matter how people feel about him.

I personally believe the Houston Roughnecks would be perfect for him since he already has a personal relationship with June Jones from their time in the CFL. Manziel does not fit the offensive scheme that Dallas Renegades head coach Bob Stoops will have and I still believe the league will do what it takes to get Stoops and recent signed quarterback Landry Jones back together.

Manziel was average during his time in the Alliance as he was outshined by 3rd string quarterback Brandon Silvers (one of the XFL draft invitees) and never really had a chance to prove himself. I know he had second and third chances in the CFL and the Alliance, but there is still some spark of excitement with how he plays and I think he still somewhat salvage his career. Johnston may not see it now, but with a new league trying to attract attention and giving players another chance at playing professional football, I think it’s time for all of us to move on from the past and let’s give Manziel another shot.

Big news in big D: Dallas Renegades

There’s an old saying in Texas: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That would be the perfect statement to describe the kind of day it was for the XFL and XFL die-hards.

The names and logos were announced for all 8 of the teams Wednesday that included a combined coverage from the XFL, ESPN, and Fox Sports.

For Dallas, they got a first glimpse of their team as they will be called the Renegades. The Renegades are sporting a light blue main color followed by red on the eyes of the renegade and black around the outline of the face.

The renegades fits perfectly with what Texas is all about with the theme being “gunslingers, outlaws, and desperadoes” from the old days out in the country. The logo was a tough look to it with the text of “Dallas Renegades” is good-looking and makes sense for the Dallas team.

There has been some controversy with the logo as on Twitter, esports personality Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles tweeted after the announcement saying “What the actual f***. The Dallas XFL team just straight up stole the @Renegades name and logo. That was my creative vision.”

According to the other Renegade’s website, they were acquired by former NBA player Jonas Jerebko in 2016 as the website also states that the “Renegades is North America’s premier multi-gaming esports organization. Featuring professional players and teams in the world’s largest competitive games. Recent breakout performances in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, Fortnite, and Paladins has helped launch Renegades into becoming one of the most prominent and recognized sports franchise around the world.”

Will anything come out of this claim made by MonteCristo on Twitter? Who knows, but with logos and names being released, Dallas fans can enjoy this exciting time of knowing who their new professional football team is and get ready for the XFL Draft in October to see who will be wearing the blue, red, and black colors on their jerseys in February.

XFL Dallas hosting team name reveal event Wednesday

Wednesday is the big day when XFL fans can finally know the names and logos of their respective cities. The XFL Dallas team will be having their own celebration of the historic day.

The XFL Dallas team posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages sharing that they will be hosting their team name reveal event on Wednesday at South Victory Plaza on 3090 Olive Street in downtown Dallas. The event will take place at 11:15 am CT, just 15 minutes prior to the team names being revealed on the XFL, ESPN, and Fox websites.

For local Dallas XFL fans, it’s a first chance to meet their new team and the members of the organization and spend their lunch break celebrating an event XFL fans have been waiting for.

Boomer Sooner Reunion? XFL should hope so

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the Bob Stoops and Landry Jones come back together and take the league by storm.

Bob Stoops and Landry Jones both were together in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl for four years straight when they took on the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Showdown. Jones became the Big 12’s all time leading passer with 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns under Bob Stoops’ guidance. The two together combined for 40-13 record in Jones’ four years at OU. Oh, and not to mention that Jones was named after Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry. Call it destiny?

Jones fits the prototypical Stoops quarterback: tall, drop back/pocket passer. He would obviously fit in perfectly with Stoop’s offensive system with his familiarity with how to run the offense and would be a fan favorite right away in Dallas. The two would instantly be one of the favorites to win the Western Conference and take home the XFL title.

In an interview with James Hale of SportsTalk1400’s “Total Sports” back in July, Stoops told him, “Oh, he still looks great. He can still sling the ball, and just is in good shape, maybe not prime like he had been, but he’ll work himself back into shape. But he can still throw the football as well as anybody and has worked in our offense before, so I think Landry will have a really good future in this.”

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the two come back together and take the league by storm. They can sell tickets to fans at Globe Life Park with the pair being back together since they are close to the Oklahoma border. It’s true that there might be a lot of Longhorn fans in the area, but Sooner fans would not be able to resist driving 3-4 hours from Norman to watch the pair back together.

I don’t usually condone backdoor collusion, but this might be a case where I would make an exception. The XFL needs to create as many headlines as possible to get the press and fans excited for the league to begin play in February. A “family” reunion of sorts would be a good headline before kickoff.

Landry Jones makes it official… the XFL is serious this time

Landry Jones, former University of Oklahoma standout and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback will play for the XFL.

The hiring of Landry Jones shows football fans who might be resistant to spring football that the XFL is serious about having top talent at the quarterback position.

While the AAF (Alliance of American Football) had some great talent and has been responsible for 95 players getting signed to NFL players, the quarterback position was one position fans felt needed to be better. Outside of Garrett Gilbert of the Orlando Apollos and John Wolford of the Arizona Hotshots, most of the quarterbacks had inconsistent to below average play that plagued the league of having a great product.

With the shift of focus being paying Tier 1 quarterbacks more than any other positions shows the league is committed to having good quarterback play.  The XFL remembers how the QB play was back in 2001 where we only saw Tommy Maddox of LA play at a high level with Mike Pawlawski with San Francisco and Jim Druckenmiller of Memphis having pretty good seasons. The issue was that we didn’t see as much great talent as we could have due to the antics that McMahon was wanting the league to do with the WWF-style and that resulted in the league losing its reputation.

Led by Oliver Luck (a former NFL quarterback and the father of current Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck), this league has a chance to succeed where they originally and the Alliance failed at in the first place. They learned their lessons from their failures and took their time to build an attractive product. The additions of high-level coaches like Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn, Pep Hamilton, and Kevin Gilbride should help add credibility to the league as well.