My XFL mid-season all-pro team

Houston Roughnecks quarterback PJ Walker. (Credit: XFL.com)

At the midway point of the regular season, here is my all-star/all-pro team. This is just my opinion, although I do back these up with a lot of statistics. There is a ton of talent in this league, a lot of players deserve to be recognized but I could only select very few from each position.

QB – PJ Walker (HOU)

This was honestly a lot harder of a decision than I thought it would be. Josh Johnson and Jordan Ta’amu have very impressive cases for this spot but I had to stick with PJ. Walker leads the league in yards (1338 passing, 99 rushing), in touchdowns (15 passing, 1 rushing) and his team is 5-0. Walker should continue his impressive tear into the second half of the season and find himself back on an NFL roster.

RB – Cameron Artis-Payne (DAL)

CAP is one of two running backs with 350+ total yards, averaging 5.1 yards per tote, has the sixth highest elusive rating per PFF and is PFF’s #2 graded running back. That is an impressive resume and what is also equally as impressive is that CAP has taken over the second half of games. In the Renegades two game winning streak, CAP had game-clinching runs and was a major factor in their victories

WR – Cam Phillips (HOU) and Tre McBride (LA)

Cam Phillips is an obvious choice, his 31 catches for 455 yards easily lead the league but the real crazy stat is his 9 TDs. For some reference, the next closest receiver has 4 touchdowns and there are three teams who have 9 or less total touchdowns. He could be the league MVP after 5 games. The other receiver, Tre McBride, is a bit more controversial. McBride was hurt to start the season but after his return he has averaged almost 100 yards per game and scored in all 3. The Ross for McBride trade is looking pretty good for the Wildcats.

TE – Donald Parham (DAL)

This was another easy decision as Donald Parham has been phenomenal this season. In a league that has barely utilized tight ends, Parham is 3rd in receiving yards and 2nd in touchdowns among ALL receivers. Parham has 170 more yards than the next closest tight end (Brandon Barnes) which in itself makes this choice very easy.

OT – Michael Dunn (SEA) and Storm Norton (LA)

Both of these offensive tackles have been very good in both pass protection and run blocking. In a combined 552 snaps between the two of these tackles they have allowed 0 sacks, 4 QB hits and 9 hurried passes. PFF has also rated these two as the top run blocking OTs in the league. Individually, Michael Dunn has missed 1 game but has been a little better in pass protection than Norton while Norton is the #1 run blocker by a large margin.

OG – Avery Genessy (HOU) and Bruno Reagan (STL)

The offensive guard race was a little closer because there was not a player that was dominant in both pass protection and run blocking like with the offensive tackles. Given that, I decided to weight pass protection a little heavier but these guys were still solid in run blocking. Genessy has allowed 1 pressure and 0 sacks on 317 snaps in a high passing volume offense. Reagan has allowed 1 sack but only 3 pressures on 368 snaps. These two have solid run blocking grades to go along with elite pass protection

C –  Marquice Shakir (DAL)

Dillon Day and Jordan McCray were both considerations but in the end I decided to go with Shakir. Shakir has the third highest run blocking grade among center and the second highest pass blocking grade. Shakir has allowed 0 sacks and only 3 pressures on 347 snaps.

DL – Nikita Whitlock (TB) and Will Sutton (SEA)

Both of these players stand out as they have seen a lot of snaps and been effective in lots of facets of the game. Whitlock has clogged up lanes as PFF’s #1 rated run defender but is also 2nd among defensive linemen with 12 total pressures. He is the clear best DL in the league. Sutton is also producing at a similar level with a top-5 run defense grade to go along with 10 total pressures, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits.

EDGE – Olubunmi Rotini (NY) and Cavon Walker (NY)

It is a little surprising that two teammates were the top players but hey, it is only an eight team league. Rotini leads all edge rushers in QB hurries (12) and tackles (18) and even though he only has 1 sack, those stats are a tribute to the disruption he has caused. His teammate, Walker, meanwhile has been the one hitting home as he leads the league with 5 sacks. This duo has been a nightmare for opposing QBs.

LB – Beniquez Brown (HOU) and Steven Johnson (SEA)

This was a pretty tough race but both these players have been good defensive leaders. Brown has been impressive on multiple fronts, allowing 4.7 yards per target, collecting 6 total pressures and 31 tackles. Steven Johnson has been a tackling machine as he leads the league with 36 of them.

CB – Jamar Summers (NY) and Josh Hawkins (DAL)

I consider Darius Hillary(STL), Summers’ teammate Drovon Askew-Henry and a few Houston corners but I ended up with these two. Summers was debatably the defensive player of the year in the AAF and he had carried his success to the XFL. Summers has been targeted 24 times on 307 snaps and has only allowed 10 catches for 140 yards and 0 touchdowns. That is good for a 41.7% catch rate and 5.8 yards per attempt when targeted. Summers also has an interception and a pass breakup and unlike most other corners he has not been penalized. Josh Hawkins has also been extremely impressive in coverage this year. On his 305 snaps, Hawkins has been targeted 23 times allowing 10 catches for 152 yards and 0 touchdowns. That is good for a 43.5% completion rate, 6.6 yards per attempt and a measly 29.6 passer rating when targeted. Hawkins also tags on two interceptions and three pass breakups.

S – Rahim Moore (DC) and Will Hill III (STL)

I considered Derron Smith (DAL) but I just went with Moore and Hill. Rahim Moore has been absolutely outstanding in coverage but has been surprisingly efficient as a pass-rusher as well. Moore has five total pressures in just 16 pass rush snaps. In coverage Moore has allowed 3 receptions for 9 yards on 12 targets, a whopping 0.75 yards per target and a 0.0 passer rating against. Moore also tacks on 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups. Will Hill has only allowed 47 yards on 12 targets in coverage, just under 4 yards per target, and he also has 2 interceptions to go along with that. Hill has also been exceptional against the run, recording 28 tackles.

K- Matt McCrane (NY)

I considered Austin MacGinnis, who also has a 100% field goal percentage and 2 more field goals, but I went with McCrane because he is 2 for 2 on 50+ yard field goals. For reference, the rest of the league is 4 for 8 on such field goals. McCrane is 6 for 6 on all other field goals and has not missed an extra point ;).

P – Drew Galitz (DAL)

This one was pretty simple. 50% of Galitz’s punt were inside the 20, Galitz has 0 touchbacks, and his net punt is the highest in the league at 40.7.

Returner – Austin Walter (DAL)

Considered John Santiago (SEA) but had to give the edge to Walter given he has a return touchdown. Walter has returned 17 kicks for 431 yards (25.4 average) and has that return touchdown.

Totals by team:

Dallas: 6 (3 Offense, 1 Defense, 2 Special Teams)

Houston: 4 (3 Offense, 1 Defense)

New York: 4 (3 Defense, 1 Special Teams)

Seattle: 3 (1 Offense, 2 Defense)

Los Angeles: 2 (2 Offense)

St. Louis: 2 (1 Offense, 1 Defense)

DC: 1 (1 Defense)

Tampa Bay: 1 (1 Defense)

A New Hope – XFL Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks recap

Seattle Dragons quarterback B.J. Daniels. (Credit: XFL.com)

A change was inevitable.

After recording two first downs and only 27 passing yards in the first half, Head coach Zorn decided at halftime to make the switch from quarterback Brandon Silvers to B.J. Daniels. “It was a super hard decision because it was not all on Brandon [Silvers],” said Zorn. “[Silvers] did not fail, we just needed to give the team something different.”

“Certainly B.J. [Daniels] has the wheels to make someone miss, and did,” said Zorn. “It ignited the team in both the run game and the passing game.”

In what is a common theme for the Dragons, the next half was completely different. Sometimes the first half is way better, sometimes it’s the second, but it seems like the Dragons struggle to put two good halves together each week. Today, all the life came after the injection of Daniels at quarterback to start the second half. “[Daniels] gave our team a spark,” said Zorn. “He kept it going too, it was not just one drive.”

Daniels completed a long 57 yard pass to wide receiver Alonzo Moore and a ten yard touchdown to tight end Evan Rodriguez, but a big chunk of his production came on the ground. Daniels rushed for 84 yards on seven carries and the threat of him running is what set up plays like the big 57 yard completion. “He (Daniels) uses his legs very well,” said Zorn. “He made some great decisions running the ball.”

This was an offense that was struggling to do just about everything: stay ahead of the chains, convert third downs to stay on the field (other than the first half versus the Renegades) and produce big plays. While Daniels was not perfect, only boasting a 50% completion rate, he provided life to this dormant offense.

After getting slayed in the first half, the Dragons came roaring back and made it a game. The Dragons eventually fell short but fans have something to be excited about because this was a good performance (with Daniels in) against a top team in a tough environment. “I think we picked up our energy in the second half and really tried to make it a game,” said Daniels.

St. Louis BattleHawks head coach Johnathon Hayes had to make adjustments to limit the impact Daniels had. “It changed our approach on how we had to attack them,” said Hayes. “Give the kid [Daniels] credit, he made some plays.”

The BattleHawks, led by the dynamic quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu, had a balanced offensive attack and were able to pile up almost 400 yards of offense. Hayes had high praise for Ta’amu after the game. “[Ta’amu] is good at overcoming adversity, he keeps a cool head and we communicate very well,” said Hayes. “I trust him, and he knows that.”

Ta’amu accounted for a lot of that 400 yards of production, rushing for 63 yards and passing for 264. De’Mornay Pierson-El was the leading receiver with 71 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Ta’amu did spread the ball around a little, though, as four BattleHawk receivers recorded 40+ yards. “I’m not the type to favor one receiver,” said Ta’amu. “These guys just did a great job of getting open and the offensive line did a great job of protecting.”

“My job is to just sit back, give them the ball and watch them do work,” said Ta’amu. “Spreading the ball around is the beauty of our offense.”

A positive going into the last drive was that the Dragons did not turn the ball over. Unfortunately, on the last drive, Dragon fans saw something they have seen too much – a miscommunication which led to an interception. “We had split safeties so Austin [Proehl] was running down the middle of the field and I thought we would have an opportunity to gash them,” said Daniels. “There was an opportunity there and we just did not connect on it.”

Zorn also commented on the aforementioned interception. “[Daniels] would like to have that back,” said Zorn. “[Daniels] saw a space and unfortunately the receiver was not looking.”

“[Daniels] had hoped the receiver would turn around and see it,” said Zorn. “But [Proehl] never turned around.”

The loss was obviously disappointing but this team played better under Daniels. Regardless of how you look at it, next week is almost a must win game as falling to 1-4 would be difficult to come back from. However, the Renegades are a tough task and it should be a battle. If the Dragons are able to pull out a win, they are firmly in contention for the second seed in the west. The BattleHawks are sitting pretty on top of the East.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

A Tale of Two Halves – Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons

Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers went 21 for 34, for 204 yards and one interception. (Credit: XFL.com

48 degrees, cloudy and a 100% chance of football at Century Link.

This past Saturday, the 1-1 Dallas Renegades traveled to Century Link to play the 1-1 Seattle Dragons in a battle for second place in the West. The Renegades and the Dragons were both coming off games where the offense started off extremely slow but came to life in the second half and led them to week 2 victories.

From the first drive, this stadium was humming. As Landry Jones entered the shotgun about to take the first snap of the game, this crowd got loud. Screaming and waving their orange towels, Dragon fans made their presence felt forcing two pre-snap penalties and aiding the Dragons defense in forcing an early three and out.

Renegade players admitted that the crowd noise did affect them. “At first it impacted us greatly,” said running back Cameron Artis-Payne. “But around the third drive we kind of got it together.”

Artis-Payne said that around the end zones, the Renegades had to switch to a silent snap count.

The Dragons immediately responded with one of their best offensive drives of the season. Brandon Silvers completed 3/4 passes for 43 yards and had an impressive 1st down scramble. On 3rd & 10, Silvers hung in the pocket and took a hit as he delivered a 21-yard touchdown strike to Austin Proehl. The quick 6-0 lead built by the Dragons would not last, though.

The Renegades responded by storming back down the field and scored on a 12-yard catch and run by wide receiver Flynn Nagel. Landry Jones started out slow, peppering the running backs with targets for minimal gains, but eventually got going after two straight 3rd down pass interference calls kept the Renegades offense on the field. Jones found big targets, Donald Parham and Jazz Ferguson, for first downs before hitting Nagel for the score.

After two quick scores, the offenses for both teams would hit a wall. A little punting and some ill-advised throws later, it was still a 6-6 game and the Dragons had the chance to take the lead going into halftime. Coming off an interception, Silvers responded well making some huge throws; a 29-yard completion to Austin Proehl and the 19 yard TD pass to running back Kenneth Farrow. Farrow, one of the three dynamic running backs for the Dragons, ran a great route, beating the linebacker, and Silvers dropped in a perfect throw.

Coach Jim Zorn was impressed by the play of Brandon Silvers this week. “He definitely improved (from week 2 to week 3),” said Zorn. “We were a lot better on third down and he managed the game very well.”

Silvers also said that he was more comfortable and felt that he played a lot better in the first half.

Going into the locker room, the Dragons had played one of their most complete halves of the season. They had, for the most part, shut down the Renegades offense and had put together some impressive drives on offense. Up 12-6 and getting the ball to start the half, the Dragons were in a good position

Then the second half happened. The Dragons offense sputtered, having three 3-and-outs and the defense was on the field 24/7, eventually allowing some big plays to the Renegades offense. Among the second half stars on offense for the Renegades were running back Cameron Artis-Payne and tight end Donald Parham. Artis-Payne had 110 total yards and Parham had 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. Parham’s 65 yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter really put the game out of the Dragon’s reach.

When asked about Artis-Payne running wild in the second half, Zorn said that [Artis-Payne] did a great job hitting the holes but the Dragon’s defense lost contain on some of the plays.

Despite the big turnaround, Renegades Coach Bob Stoops said that the team did not make any huge adjustments at halftime.

“It was mostly the coordinators communicating with people in the box on what our issues were in the first half. There was just some talk like ‘If we get in this set and run this or that we have a better chance rather than a certain other set’,” said Stoops. “We don’t all of the sudden find new plays but we may call some other things and different sets more often. That is what we did in the second half with the two-back sets which helped set up the run game and the play action.”

“They brought a little bit more pressure and they were coming off the edge,” said Silvers in regards to the halftime adjustments made by the Renegades. “We just did not make enough plays. They are a good team but us not scoring anything in the second half cannot happen.”

The Renegades went on to win 24-12 and the Dragons fell to 1-2 on the season, putting them in 3rd place in the West.

This game had shades of the week 1 loss when the offense just sputtered late in the game after going toe-to-toe with the opposition for most of the game. Zorn said it was encouraging because he knows the mistakes are very fixable but it still stings because they were so close.

The Dragons will fly away from Century Link next week and begin a little road trip with the St. Louis Battlehawks first on the docket. The Dome in St. Louis could be a tough place to play as they are projected to match the Dragons has the highest attended games. The Dragons could be in for a loud, hostile environment like the one the Renegades had to play in today.

In regards to injured wide receiver Kasen Williams’ status, Zorn was non-committal. “His quad was not responding so we had a procedure last week where they ejected blood pooled up in his quad,” said Zorn. “I am hoping for improvement and to see some progress this week now that we got some stuff to heal his quad.”

“It is a nuisance to him,” said Zorn. “He wanted to be out on the field last week and I can’t put him on yet.”

At least there is some improvement in the status of Williams but it does not sound like there is a huge chance he plays this coming week.

Going into next week, the Dragons are in an almost make or break spot already. Falling to 1-3 and having to play Houston right afterwards is not a good spot to be in. It is crucial to win one of the next two games at least and in St. Louis is their best chance.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

Crowded Stadium and Crowded Backfields – Vipers at Dragons Recap

Coach Jim Zorn and the Dragons celebrate their first win of the XFL season. (Credit: XFL.com)

This was the XFL game of the year so far and I feel like that is fairly undebatable. It was the closest game of the year and the environment was top notch. The Dragons attracted the largest attendance by far, 29,172, and the environment at CenturyLink was crazy. The play on the field was a little sloppy but it got exciting towards the end of the game and the fans were into it. The Dragons offense left a lot to be desired but the defensive effort was spectacular. There were positives and negatives for every position group so lets dig in.

QB Play: Sloppy

Brandon Silvers would be the first to tell you that he did not play well at all. Silvers completed 7 of 19 balls for 91 yards a TD and an INT. 68 of those 91 yards also came on a single TD pass to Keenan Reynolds. I made some excuses for Silvers last week but there really was not any to be made this week. Silvers missed a ton of open receivers and left a lot of yards on the field. That one interception could also have easily been multiple. The fans were not happy with Silvers performance either as “BJ” chants filled the stadium. Zorn stuck with his young QB though, saying that he did not ever consider switching QBs. Silvers made no excuses for his performance and was not bothered by the chants. “They were right I wasn’t playing good enough”, said Silvers, “Play good and that won’t happen.” It is good that Silvers acknowledges his performance but it will be tough to win games with that type of offense so hopefully it improves tremendously. Silvers does get a full week of practice this week as opposed to only one day this past week so that should help a little bit

Run Game: Fine

The run game was a big part of this offense but I don’t think that was a huge testament to their success because the offense was so lackluster. There was a lot of volume but the efficiency was not anything special. Williams had 11 carries for 45 yards, Farrow had 10 for 45 and Gardner had 10 for 27 for a total of 117 yards on 31 carries. The run game did start to get going more as Williams and Farrow both had some big first down runs in the second half but I think where we were really missing them was in the passing game. A big part of the week one offense was passing to the RBs and we only saw one target between the three of them this week. That is something I would like to see early and often next week.

Receiving Corps: Blameless

I do not think this receiving corps played a bad game at all. In fact, I think they played better than last week. There was not a lot of opportunities for them to shine and when they did pass, Silvers did not hit them. The possible addition of Kasen Williams should help, though. The week one star, Austin Proehl was quiet and took a backseat to Keenan Reynolds who paced the team in targets (8) and got wide open on the 68 yard game-changing TD. I think these guys were fairly blameless and their production should improve as this passing game matures

Offensive Line: Alright

I do not think this offensive line was to blame for this performance. They kept Silvers clean for the most part and were alright in run-blocking. They did not dominate or even perform as well as last week in my opinion, but they went out and had a respectable effort. I think in the XFL, where we have seen some bad O-Lines, the Dragons have one of the better O-Lines. Top OT Isaiah Battle and OG Cyril Richardson are also both injured right now and should provide a tremendous boost when they return.

Defensive Front: Swarming 

I called these guys swarming last week because they were fast and around the football but once again there was some missed tackles. However, missed tackles or not, I was pleased with this performance. The pass rush was happy that they did not have to tackle the monstrous Cardale Jones and actually hit home with 4 sacks (even though 2 came from the secondary). Vipers RBs Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith both had some big runs as the Vipers but did not take over the game. The big success was containing the electric Quinton Flowers who only had 15 yards on 5 carries. Steven Johnson was once again the tackles leader with 10 and had 2 TFL as well. You also can’t forget about Marcell Frazier’s Pick 6 which was the best play of the year for the Dragons. This unit is a definite strength of the team and I can’t wait to watch it continue to develop.

Secondary: Sterling

This secondary played an amazing game. The Vipers only had 172 passing yards and a lot of those came on the last drive in prevent defense. CB Jeremy Clark played a fantastic game with his interception and 2 pass breakups as well CB Steve Williams who had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFLs. Dan Williams, the XFL’s leading receiver in week 1, was held to only 22 yards, which was a huge testament to this secondary. While the Viper’s offense is not a powerhouse, a strong showing like this is still a great sign. This defense is hot and when they play like this, the Dragons always have a shot

Special Teams: Improved

By no means did the Dragons dominate on special teams but compared to their week 1 performance, it was a huge upgrade. John Santiago and Austin Proehl both had some solid returns and the Dragon’s coverage team held the Vipers in the return game. Punter Brock Miller had some punts downed inside the five and had a very underrated performance. Ernesto Lacayo badly missed an early field goal but responded to hit a huge field goal in the final minutes to put the Dragons up 8. Of course, the big positive was no punts blocked for a TD, which was the killer in week 1. Overall, this unit put together a much better performance and coach Chip Garber should be happy with his unit.

Coaching: Solid

Zorn did not go out there and dominate Trestman but he coached a solid game and led our guys to a win. The big question mark was the QB situation but Zorn sticking with Silvers did lead to big TD. Their was not too many 4th down decisions but one positive was that Seattle started going for 2 after TDs instead of 1, which is the better call. Zorn did what he could and won this hard fought game and I believe he should get credit for it.

Fans: Loud

This was the largest crowd by far at an XFL game and the fans were loud, especially late in the game. Both HC Trestman and QB Cornelius both said that the crowd did not affect their performance but there was some false starts and miscommunications. This stadium was packed and I really hope we see this at the next four home games.

Overall Performance: Resilient

This performance wasn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination but the guys hung in there, fought it out and came out with the win. There are a lot of things this team needs to work on but I think this team will get better (as will all the XFL teams) and start putting everything together.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

Closer than it seemed – Dragons at Defenders Review

Quarterback Brandon Silvers in action against the DC Defenders in the XFL's opening game. Credit: Seattle Dragons
Quarterback Brandon Silvers in action against the DC Defenders in the XFL’s opening game. Credit: Seattle Dragons

Whelp. The Dragons started off the season with a very frustrating loss. Cardale Jones was as good as advertised but the Dragons defense had a solid game, only giving up 19 offensive points. The offense was a little bit hot and cold but showed some solid signs of life in the running and downfield passing game. The main problem was special teams. A blocked punt TD was a killer and the kickoff fiasco before half cost us three points. The dagger that killed the Dragons, though, came when Austin Proehl slipped and Bradley Sylve took a Brandon Silvers pass back the other way. Between those three plays, that is 15 points that the offense or defense didn’t have a direct effect on. Let’s go position by position here.

QB play: Inconsistent

There was some good and some bad in the performance by Brandon Silvers today. Unfortunately, the bad played a huge role in the outcome of the game. The pick-six was brutal for the Dragons but I dont know if you can completely blame that one on Silvers. Proehl slipping (was one of many players that slipped today) caused the Silvers throw to go right into the hands of Defenders defensive back Bradley Sylve and he took it to the house. Silvers threw another pick that was very ugly looking and CB Elijah Campbell dropped another potential pick-six. Silvers third turnover sealed the game as he messed up an exchange with Ja’Quan Gardner at the five yard line. The positives were Silvers pocket movement and downfield passing. Silvers had some very impressive plays where he maneuvered the pocket and kept his eyes downfield. The 57 yard TD to Proehl was the one everyone remembers but he almost had another one if it wasn’t for a great PBU by a DC Defender. Silvers threw it deep way more routinely than I expected and had some great accuracy. He pushed a few a little too far out of bounds but he dropped some dimes. Unfortunately, outside of Dontez Byrd, his receivers could not make a play on the ball. I don’t think Silvers lost this game for the Dragons, but he could have done a little more to help win it. I am still 100% behind Silvers for next week as long as he is healthy, I am surprised to see so many Dragons fans clamoring for BJ.

Run game: Efficient

I expected the Dragons to run the ball a little more but the backs were efficient with their touches, turning 19 carries into 93 yards (4.9 ypc). Farrow was the most impactful with some good short yardage carries and a big run to set up a score at the end of the first half. I would expect to see this 3-headed timeshare continue as these guys can all be valuable contributors. Look for possibly more rushing volume next week against the Vipers.

Receivers: Uninspiring

This grade could have been a whole lot worse if Austin Proehl did not suit up today for the Dragons. Proehl had a great game, getting open out of the slot and being a go-to target for Silvers. He did a great job getting open and breaking tackles en route to a 57 yard TD after Silvers eluded the sack. Outside of Proehl and a nice catch from Byrd, there was little life. The receivers struggled to gain much separation and could not go up to get many jump balls, Kasen Williams should help in that aspect. The TEs were pretty non-existent in the passing game, a few good plays from Rodriguez and Johnson but nothing more than that. I think the RBs are going to be a great weapon for us if we find a little bit better way to use them in the passing game. Williams had a huge TD catch and Farrow had a huge 1st down catch but the screen game was ineffective, I want to see them improve upon that because it could be a huge weapon for us. I hope getting Kasen Williams back injects some life into the outside receivers and we can get the ball in Keenan Reynolds’ hands.

Offensive Line: Underappreciated

I was very impressed by what this offensive line did on Saturday. Silvers got sacked once for a 4 yard loss and was given time in the pocket to throw downfield. The run game was consistent and the OL opened some solid holes. I was pleasantly surprised by the depleted unit and I think they could develop into a real strong unit that anchors the offense. To think that this unit could be getting back Isaiah Battle is a huge positive as well. These guys were an obvious bright spot for me and not one that people realize

Front Seven: Swarming

There were some concerns but this front seven was SWARMING. The fact that Cardale Jones only got sacked once is more of a testament to his toughness than this pass rush. They were constantly in the backfield but could not bring down Cardale. I believe more sacks will come and when we play a less mobile QB, they will come in bunches. This run defense was impressive as well. Pressley and Pumphrey showcased some serious speed but way more often then not, the defense was right on them. They combined for 16 carries for 36 yards (2.3 YPC) and were bottled up all night. The only issue I saw was tackling. To often on 3rd and long we could not bring down Cardale or we missed an initial tackle. The defense played pretty fast and got to people but needs to be a little better in the tackling department.

Secondary: Meh

This was a tough task for this secondary which was missing Seisay and Graham but they let up some crucial, big plays. The trick play was blown and the go ahead Rashad Ross TD was poorly played. These two plays were bad, but they were also some of the only signs of life the Defenders had. The secondary had a tough task and played great most of the game but those plays were killers. Cardale also did a great job of extending the play and when he did that, the secondary had some trouble at times staying glued to their man (which is understandable, these are tough receivers and you can’t cover them all day). All in all, they let some big plays up but with some key pieces back, they could be a good little unit for us.

Special Teams: Troublesome

When you think of special teams in this game, you think of that blocked punt. This was just one of the huge mishaps by the Dragons but another HUGE mishap happened right before half. The kickoff did not make it to the 20 yard line and the Defenders got the ball at Seattle’s 45 (a new XFL rule). This basically gifted the Defenders three points and those points came into play in the second half. Outside of those two plays, everything was solid and pretty standard. However, those two plays changed the course of the game and cannot happen again.

Coaching: Solid

I was interested to see the mindset of this team and I was a bit surprised at time with what I saw. Zorn made a baffling call to punt on 4th and 1 early in the game but got a lot more aggressive as the game went on (which I believe is a positive). I would have liked to see 2pt conversions instead of 1pt conversions but I was pleased with Zorn’s 4th down aggressiveness later in the game. The play-calling was fine as they were fairly balanced and pushed the ball down the field. I think Zorn put his players in a solid spot to win the game but the team just made crucial mistakes at the wrong moment. I am still in on Jim Zorn.

Overall performance: Frustrating

Frustrating was the word I used to describe this game. I think we have the team that could have beaten DC on Saturday but little mistakes and stuff that did not go our way cost us the game. This team is not 12 points worse than DC in my opinion. I am excited for the rest of the season but this one kind of stings. The overall game was great for the XFL, I think quality football was played but as a Dragons fan I left with a sour taste in my mouth. Next week we will travel back home and look to get back to .500 with Seattle behind us. Go Dragons!

Seattle Dragons week 1 preview

The run game, including Ja'Quan Gardner, could determine the Seattle Dragons' fate in Week 1 against the DC Defenders.
Seattle Dragons Running Back Ja’Quan Gardner. Photo: XFL.com

It is almost here! It seems like we have been waiting forever for this day but alas, here we are. On Saturday, the Seattle Dragons will travel to DC to take on the Defenders. Usually, during the season, I will publish two Dragon articles each week. A review of the last game and the preview for the next game. Since this is week 1, I will just be briefly reviewing the preseason game and previewing Saturday’s showdown in one article.

Preseason Game Recap

In a dress rehearsal game, the Dragons squared off against the Defenders in Houston. There were not official stats but by following social media, you could get an idea of what was going on. In the scrimmage, BJ Daniels got the start over Brandon Silvers, which will not be happening in week 1. However, the Daniels-led offense had a little bit better results. Daniels led a TD drive early as the Dragons got out to an early 10-0 lead. Cardale Jones and the Defenders ended up storming back and took the lead on pick-6 thrown by the Brandon Silvers. Ja’Quan Gardner got the Dragons back in the game with a 35 yard TD run but it was not enough as they fell 21-16.

I would not take too much from this scrimmage, a lot of the players that played in this game are not even still on the roster. While it was a little bit concerning to see those interceptions by Silvers, they happen and the fact that he was named the starter despite them is a nice bode of confidence. Knowing we have Daniels to come off the bench in relief if things go bad is also a good thing. A big bright spot was Ja’Quan Gardner. Gardner took one to the house from 35 yards out, trying to cement himself in this RB rotation. Gardner was frequently compared to MJD in the AAF and played up to the name too, frequently busting out long runs. It looks like he has not missed a beat and could be a great option in the backfield.

Week 1 Preview

There will be a lot of eyes on the Dragons on Saturday, not just because it is week 1 – but the Dragons vs Defenders is the first game on the 4 game weekend slate. The Defenders have opened as early favorite across every gambling market, usually sitting at about 7 point favorites. For season-long odds, the Defenders are also usually near the top (projected to be good) while the Dragons reside near the bottom (projected to be bad). This is a little concerning as a Dragons fan but I am not too worried about it. This is pure speculation and the fact of the matter is that the Dragons do not have a lot of big, recognizable names i.e. Cardale Jones.

Injuries

The big concern for the Dragons right now is that they are probably the most injured team in the XFL. LB Brandon Bell, WR Rueben Mwehla, LB Gionni Paul and DT Tani Tapou are already on the IR and this weeks practice report was a little too full for a week 1 game. Isaiah Battle, Kasen Williams, Tyson Graham and Cam Clear have all been declared out for this week’s game. Jeremy Clark, Mohammed Seisay and Alonzo Moore were all limited participants.

It is also too early to say if they injured players are huge contributors because we just don’t know. The Dragons are healthy at QB, which is a luxury right now in the West division. The fact of the matter is, thought, that we would like to be a lot more healthy.

Defenders on offense

If you were to rank the top receiving cores in the league, it would be a travesty to not have the Defenders in the top 2. Former NFL contributor Eli Rogers, LSU standout Malachi Dupre, and speedsters Rashad Ross and DeAndre Thompkins (Thompkins has been declared out) make up the wide receiving core. TE Khari Lee has gotten great camp reports and we have seen RB Jhurrell Pressley be utilized out of the backfield as a receiver in the AAF. I expect this team to test the Seattle secondary early and often with XFL MVP favorite Cardale Jones at the helm. This is a huge test for the Dragons here in week 1.

Matchups in the secondary will be huge for the Dragons. Starting CBs Jeremy Clark and Channing Stribling ran 4.4 and 4.6 40 times, respectively, so trying to neutralize fellow 4.4 receivers, Thompkins and Ross with Clark would be the best bet.

Differing philosophy on the other side

While the Defenders look to have an explosive air attack, the Dragons are going to have a different philosophy on the offensive side of the ball. When you draft RBs with your first two picks, keep five TEs on the roster, and your team president says the team’s greatest strengths are going to be “running the football and playing defense”, I would expect this team to air it out a little less.

When depth charts dropped there was a little unexpected shakeup to the RB rotation. Ja’Quan Gardner was listed as the starter on the depth chart with Farrow and Williams after him. As mentioned earlier, Gardner had a big run in the preseason and he did match the production of these two in the AAF. I would still expect to see a huge split in carries between the three and given the fact that I project Seattle to be the highest volume running team, there should be enough to go around.

I expect Seattle to try and keep Silvers clean with a run-heavy and quick to intermediate passing game. The Dragons could have an advantage rotating in and out five fresh TEs. The starting WRs Seattle expects to trot out are Keenan Reynolds, Kasen Williams, and Austin Proehl. Expect Reynolds to be heavily involved both catching, running and even passing the ball on some trick plays. Also, keep an eye on John Santiago. The UND alum is a converted RB and is the expected kick returner, he is explosive and someone Zorn and OC Mike Riley would be wise to get involved.

At the QB position, BJ Daniels could still possibly be in the mix, we don’t know what Zorn has up his sleeve. I would expect the leash on Silvers to be a little longer than one game but there could be specific packages for Daniels and his unique skillset.

Special Teams

The Dragons have had quite the kicker carousel so far this season. Cole Tracy was looking like the starting kicker coming out of camp but a surprise cut led to the signing of Garrett Hartley. However, Hartley’s stint was unfortunately short with the Dragons as the XFL did not permit him to play due to injury concerns. Now the Dragons will be rolling with Ernesto Lacayo in week 1. The 30-year-old kicker has been very experienced in smaller football leagues, with stints in the IFL, PIFL, CPIFL, CIF and AFL.

What I’m looking for on Saturday

Creativity – How creative will this offense be? We are expecting a lot of running but will we have creative schemes, WR runs, wildcat runs or BJ Daniels appearances.

Offensive Line – OL play was incredibly suspect in the AAF early on and without Isaiah Battle it will be interesting to see how this unit performs

Rotations – How often will Zorn want to sub his players in and out? There is depth at positions like TE and DL but OL and LBs could be undermanned.

XFL – Win or lose, I am just excited to see this team and league in action. That being said, I will be rooting for the Dragons like crazy.

Have a good week 1 everybody and Go Dragons!

Breathing Fire: Seattle Dragons mini-camp

Seattle Dragond Minicamp. Photo by Jackson Conner.
Seattle Dragons Minicamp. Photo by Jackson Conner.

On a cold, rainy Saturday morning, a crowd was gathering outside of Seattle Memorial Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The gates would not open for over 30 minutes, but the lines were already beginning to form. As 9:00 neared, the lines warped back and across the parking lot, and Dragon Nation was ready to see their team.

The gates opened and fans were greeted with classic stadium activities like a beanbag toss and an inflatable QB throwing area. Most importantly, Dragon fans overlooked the field where multiple players had started warming up. Fans then took a seat in the south stands where they watched practice and listened to speakers such as Jim Zorn, Oliver Luck, and director of player personnel Tony Softli.

At approximately 9:23, players started to huddle up and cheer as an electric sense filled the air. The punt team took the field first and punter Brock Miller blasted some balls into the rainy air. Back on the punt return team for the Dragons was Trey Williams, Fred Ross and Austin Proehl. Towards 9:30, the offense and defense split up. At this time, the stands were starting to fill up and speakers would be coming soon. Towards the east endzone, QBs and RBs worked together perfecting mesh points and passes to the RBs.

The Dragons have an impressive room of running backs, all of which can catch passes. “We just might have the best stable in the backfield,” said 1st round pick RB Trey Williams. “Y’all get ready, get your popcorn because it’s about to go down.”

In the QB room, only Brandon Silvers and BJ Daniels were practicing today. Chase Litton was absent for a non-football related reason and of course, Joe Callahan was signed by the Detroit Lions. Both looked pretty solid, and it is still a competition, but I would give Brandon Silvers the slight edge. In 11-on-11s, Silvers was calm in the pocket and threw with good accuracy to the short and intermediate-ranges but rarely pushed the ball too far down the field. The offense seemed the rely on a quick passing game and showed some pizzaz with end-around to players like Keenan Reynolds.

The WRs that really stood out to me were Austin Proehl and Reuben Mwehla. Austin Proehl ran most of his routes out of the slot and consistently beat man coverage. Reuben Mwehla was a YAC monster and was a guy they really wanted to get involved in the screen game.

Towards the middle of 11-on-11s, the defense really started to get the better of the offense. Good coverage enabled a pass rush to hit home and force the QBs to get out of the pocket or force throws. Ja’Quan Gardner and Trey Williams both sprung some big runs but the defense did not allow any splash plays in the passing game.

An added wrinkle to the 11-on-11s was the shortened 25 seconds play clock. The official rulebook is slated to come out later this month, but Oliver Luck says that coaches already know the rules and are coaching to them. The field’s play clock was set to 25 seconds but the Dragon’s offense could not meet that pace. It is a very tough adjustment, and will require weeks more of practice, but the Dragons will eventually have to move at that expeditious pace.

Another new innovation that the XFL has is the balls. I could not see a difference in ball flight, but they are definitely a little different than a standard football. “They are a little skinnier than the NFL ball and they have a little more grip to them,” said Kasen Williams. “I like them. For a new ball, something different, I like them.”

Trey Williams could also feel the difference too. “They are tough but we are getting the hang of it,” said Williams. “It’s a football you know. You can not go wrong with a football-shaped ball regardless.”

The final innovation I saw implemented was the new kickoff rules. Ten players lined up across from each other and the kicker stood on the other side of the field by himself. Keenan Reynolds was tasked with returning kicks for the Dragons. Oliver Luck said the main things he wants to see out kickoffs is cutting down injuries and making it an exciting play again, i.e., eliminating touchbacks. This rule had been tested extensively and the kickoffs I saw seemed to flow fine.

For special teams players, this is a new wrinkle from what they are taught, and have to learn a whole new way to play kickoffs. Kasen Williams was on the kickoff team and is trying to get adjusted to this new rule. When asked about what he looks for, Williams says he tries to watch both the returner and the ref at the same time. Williams keys off when the ref’s hand goes down and/or when the returner catches the ball. This is one of the more interesting rule changes to look for in the XFL this year

My favorite moments occurred at the end of the practice when the Dragons met at midfield and faced the fans. Dragon Nation started chanting “Seattle…Dragons” and “Breathing…Fire”. You could tell the players really enjoyed this moment.

“This whole fan base is real,” Trey Williams said. “As players, we really appreciate that.”

Clearly, the players appreciate the fans and it is obvious that the Seattle football world appreciates the Dragons.

Seattle Dragon’s Offensive Training Camp Battles to Monitor

The Seattle Dragons and the rest of the XFL have started mini-camps this month and will start training camps the month after. The Dragons had 73 players drafted through both the normal and supplemental drafts. Throughout these preseason practices, the roster will be cut down and there will be positional battles for almost every spot. Right now, I am assuming the players with the highest draft capital have the inside track at the starting job. However, once you get on the field, all that stuff goes away. It’s about who performs, not where you were drafted.

QB:

Brandon Silvers should be the early favorite for the starting job but I would imagine the Dragons will spend a lot of time evaluating all their QBs. Joe Callahan has signed with the Lions, but the Dragons signed Chase Litton and he will join BJ Daniels in the QB room. If the Dragons retain only two QBs, I would think Silvers has a guaranteed spot and the real battle will be for the backup job. The battle between the 30-year-old Daniels and 24-year-old Litton should be an interesting one.

RB:

As most of you know, Dragons OC Mike Riley was the head coach for the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders. The Dragons went ahead and drafted multiple RBs and TEs that were on the Commanders. RBs Trey Williams and Kenneth Farrow were the two lead backs on the Commanders and the Dragons selected them with their first two picks. On the Commanders, Farrow out-touched Williams 101-52 in games they were both active, but I would expect that to even out in the XFL given Williams was picked first. I would guess Farrow gets the slight edge in early-down and goalline work but Williams takes over in passing situations.

Don’t forget about the Dragon’s duo of phase 5 RBs though. Lavon Coleman and Ja’Quan Gardner both have great shots to contribute this year as well. Coleman rushed for 2000 yards at the University of Washington and proved he could catch passes as well (31 in his college career). Ja’Quan Gardner was an ultra-efficient home run hitter in the AAF and is also proficient in the pass-catching department. While his production tailed off a bit towards the end, Gardner came out of the gates hot posting 8-55, 15-104-2, 12-122-1 lines to start the year.

Farrow and Williams have the inside tracks at the starting spots but the drama from this position will come from how well Gardner and Coleman perform.

WR:

It is with deep regret that I inform you that Malachi Jones will not be playing for the Dragons in 2020 as he has signed with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. Jones was a baller in the AAF and I was looking forward to watching him do more of the same in the XFL. Nevertheless, the Dragons are deep at receiver. They drafted four others in Phase 1, picked up six more in Phase 5 and drafted one in the supplementary round. The phase 1 WRs were Fred Ross (pk3), Keenan Reynolds (pk5), Kasen Williams (pk7) and John Santiago (pk8). Ross and Williams are both typical outside WRs above 6’0 while Reynolds and Santiago fit more into the slot receiver mold. Being picked in the 3rd round, Ross is the favorite to be the alpha receiver early.

Kasen Williams has gotten a lot of publicity and looks to be the favorite to start opposite of Ross on the outside. In the open phase and supplementary rounds, the Dragons added bigger receivers in Jalen Rowell, Korey Robertson, and Tyre Brady. The unfortunate nature is that they probably can’t keep all of these guys so their might be some cuts out of this group. The winner of this battle, though, can easily push to be a starting outside receiver.

In the slot, Keenan Reynolds was the most highly drafted followed by John Santiago. Both of these guys ae converted, Reynolds from QB and Santiago from RB. They are dangerous with the ball in their hand and if neither wins the slot job they can still have an impact on the offense. Gadget plays can be huge parts of XFL offenses and Reynolds and Santiago are guys you want to get in space. Utilizing them on endarounds, screens, and even in the return game would be huge in opening up this offense. The other possible slot receivers are Mikah Holder, Rueben Mwehla, and Austin Proehl. All of those guys can compete for playing time at wide receiver but the Dragons would be hard-pressed to keep all of them.

TE

The Dragons went pretty overweight at TE, drafting 6 of them. Former 2nd round pick Jace Amaro was the first one drafted. He was a big-time receiver in college but failed to bring that to the NFL. Hopefully, he can be a reliable target over the field for Silvers or any other Dragons’ QB. Cam Clear and Evan Rodriguez were teammates in the AAF on the – guess who – San Antonio Commanders. Clear is more of a blocking TE but he still posted 10 catches in the AAF. Rodriguez was a guy that got a little hot streak going to close out the AAF season, catching 8 balls for 139 yards over the last 3 weeks. Rodriguez should compete with Amaro for the receiving TE job.

In the open phase, the Dragons picked Connor Hamlett, Colin Jeter, and Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson caught 61 balls in his time at Kansas, Colin Jeter caught 21, and Connor Hamlett caught 104. I expect the Dragons to utilize the TEs pretty heavily but keeping 6 is a stretch. I bet they keep four with one of them used for almost exclusively blocking.

Big Picture

Overall, I expect the Dragons to be in 12 personnel a lot, to run the football and utilize the TEs and RBs in the passing game. The drafting of two RBs early and 6 TEs signifies that they want to run the ball and run the offense through those guys. Another personnel they could use a ton is 21 personnel; they drafted their RBs early and getting them on the field together could be beneficial to this offense. There is no way to say this for certain but I am just following the draft capital. Zorn did say that he wants to get a little tricky with the offense too at times and having a former QB in Keenan Reynolds could allow for some pretty nifty trick plays.

My projected starting lineup is only based on draft capital right now:

  • QB: Brandon Silvers
  • RB: Trey Williams/Kenneth Farrow
  • WR: Fred Ross, Kasen Williams
  • SL: Keenan Reynolds
  • TE: Jace Amaro, Cam Clear, Evan Rodrigues
  • Returner: John Santiago

My favorite phase 5 picks:

  • RB: JaQuan Gardner
  • TE: Connor Hamlett
  • WR: Austin Proehl
  • WR: Jalen Rowell

I will keep you guys updated as practices rage on and roles start to become more defined. Go Dragons!

XFL Seattle Dragons – Defensive Front Seven (Phase 3) Recap

Phase 3 Seattle Dragons Recap

RD 1: Stansly Maponga DE

The 28-year-old edge rusher from TCU was drafted in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 NFL Draft. Maponga went on to play for 3 other NFL teams before getting drafted by the Dragons. A scouting report by Wes Tueve (Bleacher Report)  said this about Maponga “Despite being somewhat undersized, Maponga plays with power. He can be seen driving offensive linemen backward, and he is rarely overpowered himself. Maponga’s pass-rush repertoire includes a variety of moves to get to the quarterback. Though only 6’2″, Maponga has long arms (34.125″) and strong, active hands that show up in both the run and pass games.” Being their first selection the Dragons probably intend to make Maponga one of their primary pass rushers.

RD 2: Nick Temple LB

The Bearcat LB is another former Commander player as the Dragons keep loading up with familiar faces for Mike Riley. Temple is a shorter (5’10) LB but he was extremely productive at Cincinnati. He bounced around between the NFL and the CFL before playing with the San Antonio Commanders in the AAF.  While he may be smaller, Dragon’s fans will love Temple as he will fly from sideline to sideline and be the captain of this Dragon’s defense.

RD 3: Will Sutton DT

Sutton was 3 star DT coming out of high school and committed to Arizona State. Sutton flourished at ASU, he was an All-American and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Chicago Bears and played there for 3 years. Sutton followed that up with brief stints in Minnesota and San Francisco. Last spring, Sutton played 8 games for the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots where he posted 15 tackles, one sack, and two pass knockdowns. Sutton was the first defensive tackle drafted by the Dragons and will be a key cog in this front seven.

RD 4: Tenny Palepoi DT

The second-team All-Pac 12 selection recorded 74 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks at the University of Utah before going undrafted in the 2014 NFL draft. Palepoi signed with the Chargers but lost his full 2015 season to injuries. In 2018, Palepoi joined the Bills camp in the off-season. Like Sutton, Palepoi played in the AAF and was a key part of the Salt Lake Stallions run defense – which was the best in the league.

RD 5: Jacquies Smith DE

The former 2nd team All-Big 12 Selection bounced around between the NFL and CFL before settling into Tampa Bay in 2014. Smith recorded 17 combined tackles, 13 solo tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble for the 2014 season in only 8 starts. Smith struggled with injuries the next few years and bounced around to a few more NFL squads. Now Smith is looking for an opportunity with the Dragons and will hope to be an impactful EDGE rusher this Spring.

RD 6: Steven Johnson LB

Johnson is one of the oldest players on the team and in the league but is just as hungry. Johnson had no college offers coming out of high school so he enrolled at Wyoming Seminary. Johnson started to catch some college scouts attention with his 62 tackles, two interceptions, and four rushing TDs in 5 games. Unfortunately, Johnson tore his ACL and LCL in what was a career-threatening injury. Johnson rehabbed and rebounded by walking onto the University of Kansas football team. In his career with Kansas, Johnson recorded 225 total tackles, 3 sacks, and an interception. Johnson went undrafted in 2012 and made the 53 man roster on the Denver Broncos, starting 7 games over 3 seasons. After a 6 year,Johnson signed with the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots and had a pick-six in their season opener. Johnson should provide some great leadership on this team given his experience but make no mistake, he is here to compete as well.

RD 7: Taniela Tupou DT

Another local product gets a shot with the Dragons as they drafted Tupou in the 7th round of the front seven draft. Tupou attended Archbishop Murphy high school, played for UW football and the Seattle Seahawks. Tupou started a game at FB for the Seahawks but was drafted as a DT for the Dragons. Tupou also played for the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots and recorded 5 tackles and a sack in a game for them. Tupou will look for a big run-stuffing role this Spring.

RD 8: Danny Ezechukwu DE

Ezechukwu was an honorable mention All-Big 10 linebacker and defensive end for Purdue and signed to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. Ezechukwu saw action in the preseason for the Eagles but could not stick there long term. Ezechukwu did not receive a combine invitation but still posted impressive numbers at his pro day. He ran a 4.68 40 yard dash, posted 26 reps on the bench press, and had 31.5 inches on his vertical and 117 inches on his broad jump. Ezechukwu has a real chance to be a solid pass-rusher for this team.

RD 9: Pasoni Tasini DT

The 6’3 307 lb. DT from Utah was selected with the 9th pick in the front seven draft by the Seattle Dragons. Tasini recorded 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 6 pass breakups in college. Tasini spent time between the Cardinals practice squad and active roster for 2 years and now looks to make an impact on opposing teams run games come February.

RD 10: Praise Martin-Oguike DE

Martin-Oguike was born in Abia State, Nigeria and moved to New Jersey at the age of 10. Martin-Oguike went on to play college football at Temple and recorded 124 tackles, 20 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 6 blocked field goals, and an interception. Martin-Oguike spent the 2018 summer with the Miami Dolphins and the 2017 summer with the Arizona Cardinals. Martin-Oguike will hopefully be apart of a solid Dragon’s pass-rush rotation.

Seattle Dragons Phase 2 – XFL Draft Recap

RD 1 : Isaiah Battle OT

With the first pick of the offensive linemen phase, the Seattle Dragons selected Isaiah Battle from Clemson. In 2015, Battle was drafted in the 5th round of the supplemental draft by the St. Louis Rams. He went on to play for 3 more teams before being waived by the Panthers back in May. Battle should start the season as the Dragon’s LT and will have a big duty to keep Silver’s blindside clean.

RD 2: Venzell Boulware OG

Seattle went for the 6’3 306 lb guard Venzell Boulware with their 2nd pick in this phase. Boulware originally played for Tennessee but then transferred to Miami for the 2018 season. Boulware has the capability to play both guard and tackle but is listed as a guard and should start the season there.

RD 3: Dillon Day C

Seattle chose the Mississippi State product as their first center in round 3. Day went undrafted in the 2015 NFL draft but he did play for 5 NFL teams and won a super bowl with the Broncos. Milehighreport.com had this to say about Day: “Intelligent with strong competitive streak. Rarely busts on tape and is assignment-oriented. Good vision and anticipation of twists and games up front. Can come off of block quickly to pick up twist or blitzer. Thick through middle with good bubble. Plays with desired toughness at the point of attack and is a fighter in tight quarters. Not always pretty, but gets guys blocked.” Day is the favorite to start at center for the Dragons in February.

RD 4: Cyril Richardson OG

Richardson has the most NFL experience out of all these linemen so far. He was an all-american for Baylor in college and got drafted in the 5th round by the Buffalo Bills in 2014. Richardson started 4 games for them and signed with the Bears in 2016. Richardson is also the fifth San Antonio Commander on the roster as he played under Mike Riley there and should be used to the scheme. Richardson is a powerful blocker and should move piles for the Dragons in the run-game.

Rd 5: Quinterrius Eatmon OT

A heralded recruit, Eatmon played his college ball at Southern Florida and was a key cog in an offensive line that helped Marlon Mack (starting RB for the Indianapolis Colts) run for 1000 yards in 2014. Eatmon signed as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders where he saw limited action. Eatmon also participated in the Spring League in 2018. Eatmon will battle to be a starting tackle for the Dragons this upcoming Winter.

Rd 6: Michael Dunn OT

The Maryland product was a versatile linemen for the AAF’s Birmingham Iron this past spring and got signed to the Miami Dolphins shortly after the AAF folded. Dunn played both guard and tackle for the Iron and was a top 10 run blocker in the AAF. He will battle for starting jobs across the line and should end up contributing to this Dragons team.

Rd 7: Kirk Barron C

Barron was a UDFA out of Purdue and has been on both the Dolphins and the Bengals. Barron is explosive, he ran a 5.19 and can dunk a basketball but has not been able to be given a true shot yet. The athletic center will get his shot to prove himself with the Dragons and will hope to lock down an interior line spot.

Rd 8: Jordan Rose OT

The Spokane native played at the University of Idaho and was Sun Belt honorable mention his senior year. At 6’6 315 Rose will battle for a position on the Oline with some of the other later round picks

Rd 9: Robert Myers OG

Myers was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft by the Ravens. He played for 3 more teams over the next 2 years and played with the AAF’s Memphis Express last Spring. A scouting report on Bleacher Report said this about Robert Myers “A solid technician, Myers wins with footwork and toughness in the trenches and in space. He has the movement skills to pull and trap and has shown he can get out of his spot and make impact blocks. He’s tough and plays with the instincts and football IQ coaches love.” Myers was the 3rd Guard taken in the draft for Seattle and will compete for playing time.

Rd 10: Craig McCorkle OG

The 6’5 290 linemen played 30 career games at Cal U of Penn. McCorkle was extremely productive in college as he anchored a really good Oline and earned 1st team all-conference honors his last two years. McCorkle will have to battle for a roster spot but has versatility which should help him.