XFL Seattle Dragons – Defensive Front Seven (Phase 3) Recap
Jackson Conner reviews XFL Seattle Dragons Defensive Front Seven Draft
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.