The 2023 XFL season was a success, bringing a new crop of players to the forefront who showcased their unique skills, hoping to earn another chance at the NFL. Many players took their opportunity and ran with it, increasing their odds of someday winding up on an NFL roster and becoming fan favourites.
While no player is a gambling lock to make the league or even receive a real opportunity, certain XFL players certainly deserve a hard look from teams. Let’s look at five players from the XFL season who deserve a chance at the league.
A.J. McCarron was previously a consistent NFL backup who spent five years in the league. He was also a three-year starter at an Alabama team that was consistently a betting favourite on sportsbooks like BetRivers. He has incredible experience and showed that he is still a quality passer with the St. Louis BattleHawks. He led the XFL in completion percentage and passer rating and showed the game management skills that made him an ideal backup. He is a better quarterback than many rostered QBs in the NFL, someone who could reliably steer an offence. But he still hasn’t gotten an opportunity this offseason.
There weren’t many elite rushers this season in the XFL, but Abram Smith was certainly one of them. Smith led the league in carries and yards by a substantial margin and also had seven rushing touchdowns. In short, he was lights out. This is coming off a college career at Baylor, where he was also highly productive. It looks like he will now get a chance to make a team, as he is currently at the Minnesota Vikings training camp. While sportsbooks don’t offer odds on roster battles, never bet against a player like Abram Smith beating the odds.
Jahcour Pearson has been productive when given opportunities, so there should be an NFL team willing to provide him with another one. Pearson played five years of college ball at Western Kentucky and Ole Miss, but he never stuck on an NFL roster. When he was given an XFL opportunity, he certainly looked the part of a capable receiver. Pearson led the league in receiving yards and receptions playing for the Seattle Sea Dragons. He received several offseason workouts, but there hasn’t been much news of him lately. The speedy wideout deserves a longer look from the NFL.
Cody Latimer was a second-round NFL Draft pick, although he never quite lived up to expectations. The big-bodied receiver is trying to make his return to the NFL, and he put on a good showing playing for the Orlando Guardians. Latimer moved to tight end and was one of the top players in the XFL, earning an All-XFL Team nod. Now, he’ll hope that the tape he put out was enough to convince decision-makers he’s worth another chance at a new position. It would be a risk worth taking for evaluators because Latimer’s first attempt at tight end produced some excellent results and highlight reel plays.
Trent Harris had a brief appearance in the NFL after going undrafted, getting two sacks and a forced fumble. But the 27-year-old has done his most damage in the XFL for the Houston Roughnecks. Harris had 9.5 sacks in nine games for the team, leading the XFL in sacks and earning himself a spot on the All-XFL Team. Harris, who played college football at the University of Miami, is slightly shorter than the typical edge rusher, but he has the strength and skill to stick in the league. He received an invite to the Broncos Rookie Minicamp but not much else.
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