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3 UFL Players Selected in the First Two Rounds of the NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL season will go down in the history books for many reasons. Unheralded teams such as the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions finally rose to the fore and ended their respective playoff droughts. Superstar quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Joe Burrow dropped like flies. And ultimately, the Kansas City Chiefs dynasty continue steamrolling on, against all odds.

Heading into the postseason, the reigning champions weren’t considered one of the favorites. That was an honor that was given to the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. Over in the AFC, it was the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens that many considered as the team to beat. However, Patrick Mahomes and Co. did exactly that.

They first knocked off an upstart Miami Dolphins side in the wildcard round. They then headed to Highmark Stadium to face off against the heavily favored Buffalo Bills. But it was the Chiefs that proved that they have got the New York state side’s number, ending their Lombardi hopes for the third time in four years. Finally, Lamar Jackson and his Ravens were the only ones left between the Arrowhead outfit and yet another Super Bowl appearance, but even they couldn’t derail Andy Reid’s men.

For the third straight game, they were the underdogs in the Las Vegas showpiece against the Niners. But just as they did last year, Mahomes and Co. rallied to overturn a ten-point deficit to secure a third Lombardi in five years with a last-gasp overtime victory. Online football betting odds have made the back-to-back champions the +475 favorites to make it three titles in a row next year, and should that come to fruition, they would become the first team in history to complete the elusive three-peat.

But now, attention has turned away from the NFL and towards the brand few UFL. Former thanks to a merger of the XFL and the USFL, the inaugural season is set to get underway on March 30th as the XFL Champion Arlington Renegades face off against the USFL champion Birmingham Stallions. But which highly drafted stars will be featured in the league this year?

Vic Beasley

Defensive end Vic Beasley holds a special place in the hearts of football fans. Drafted eighth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, the former Clemson standout’s collegiate career foretold his professional league success. A two-time All-American and a two-time first-team All-ACC selection as a Tiger, the big man’s sheer athleticism became key to his first-round selection.

A promising start saw him lead in sacks in 2016 under Defensive Coordinator Richard Smith, securing him first-team All-Pro honors in the process. However, despite a fabulous start, Beasley fell short in consistency, leading him to be a classic case of “what could have been”, maintaining modest statistics until his move to the Tennessee Titans and then the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2020 season. However, in the XFL, with the Vegas Vipers, he reinvented his reinvented his game.

Suddenly, the ‘almost there’ player had ‘arrived’, showcasing a dominating form that not only reflected his college days but also provided a glimpse of his Pro Bowl potential. His stint in the XFL served as a turnaround, earning him a move to the heavyweight Arlington Renegades for this year. He will be hoping that he can help his side win the inaugural UFL trophy this term and perhaps secure him one last move back to the NFL at the age of 31.

Matt Elam

Matt Elam’s path is a story of overcoming adversities. A star at the University of Florida, his hard-hitting safety play earned him the 32nd pick in the 2013 Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. His professional career got off to a promising start and he started every game in his first two years in Maryland. However, his stint was fraught with injuries and off-field issues, causing a decline in playing time and opportunities and he finally departed the franchise in 2016.

In 2023, after seven years of bouncing around numerous teams in both the CFL and the USFL, Elam found himself in the XFL as part of the Orlando Guardians’ roster. This was a pivotal moment in his career, where the revived energy saw him become a key player in the XFL defense. His quick instincts and agile movements surprised many, rekindling the fire that defined his college days. While unconfirmed just yet, he is expected to return to Florida for the upcoming UFL campaign and he will be aiming to build on his impressive start.

Martavis Bryant

An imposing figure on the field, wide receiver Martavis Bryant was another player whose potential seemed limitless. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and he proceeded to reel in 14 touchdowns in his first two campaigns, becoming a key target at Acrisure Stadium. Known for his remarkable speed and uncanny reach, his career was dotted with moments that showcased his unique talents, including several highlight-reel plays.

However, injuries derailed his third season and after a brief stint with the Raiders, he also found himself north of the border with the Toronto Argonauts. In 2023, Bryant, like Elam, found himself reinstated into professional football through the XFL, also representing the Vegas Vipers alongside Beasley.

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