So the first XFL draft is in the books, with 568 professional football players getting selected. We saw some recognizable NFL names, a lot of AAF veterans that expansion league enthusiasts should recognize, and small school studs that are looking to catch the attention of the next level.
Naturally, there are winners and losers. Some teams had better drafts than others, certainly, but it’s honestly impossible to foresee who really won this draft, considering the differing strategies, the unknowns, and the lack of recently advanced scouting on most of these players.
However, I’ve analyzed some players that won, some players that lost, and where you, as the fan, won and lost. Whether you agree or disagree with my analysis, one thing we can agree on: We all won because the XFL is back and speeding towards the opening weekend.
Cardale Jones: The Tier 1 Quarterback is put into a perfect situation with Pep Hamilton as the Head Coach of the DC Defenders. If you don’t know Pep’s background, check out this his biography here . Pep has a long history of working with Andrew Luck at Stanford and as the Offensive Coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. Pep got familiar with Cardale Jones, as he was the Passing Game Coordinator at rival University of Michigan. Jones certainly has a lot to learn from his Head Coach and can expect a likely pass-happy attack. Also worth noting, Jones is joining a team that seems to have a very enthusiastic fanbase. Being in the Virginia, DC, Maryland area myself, I saw a shocking amount of press interviews with Cardale. I think his personal brand will love the Washington, DC market with a fanbase yearning for competent football.
Luis Perez: A Tier 1 Quarterback when he was statistically very mediocre in the AAF for the Birmingham Iron. With two short NFL offseason stints on his resume and a 5 touchdown 6 interception showing with the Iron, I’m honestly questioning what made the XFL commit so much faith to his brand. I get it, the guy was a D2 star and has a super unique story. I think you can really sell the argument that Connor Cook and Tyree Jackson were more deserving of the Tier 1 slot. Regardless, I know the guy has raw talent, so maybe he will flourish in a very different LA offense from the boring grinding running attack that the Birmingham Iron went with (throwback to Trent Richardson averaging 2 yards per carry)
AAF Veterans: Over 200 selected (rough estimate of 121 of those having been on the final rosters and actually seeing game action). The XFL clearly had a tough time finding available talent that would legitimately differentiate the league from the failed AAF. This is understandable with a limit of talented next-level football prospects. Either way, these guys get another chance at their dreams.
Small School Prospects: Over 100 players from small FCS schools, D2, and D3 were selected. Now I certainly support this, as the NFL doesn’t have the interest (understandable) in taking fliers on a bunch of D3 prospects, regardless of stats.
Landry Jones: Two words: Bob Stoops. Landry was prolific at Oklahoma under Stoops. My prediction, mark this down: Landry will throw at least 22 touchdowns in the 10 games regular season of the XFL. He will light it up back at home in this offense. It will be interesting to see if Jones excelling will get him back into a secure backup role in the NFL.
Players that will be in the November Supplemental Draft Pool: Repeat after me: “The XFL needs players with name recognition to draw in casual viewers.” As discussed numerous times on XFL News Hub, the XFL will be holding a Supplemental Draft in late November for players that are currently under NFL contract, college prospects still playing, and players that didn’t declare eligibility this round. The XFL will try to use this draft to infuse very recent NFL talent into their player pool. The XFL will absolutely sneak some names into this additional draft. I’m thinking names like Paxton Lynch if he’s cut by the Steelers, the recently released Samaje Perine who will star in the XFL, Chad Kelly if he’s cut by the Colts, and yes….potentially money maker Manziel.
Kenny Robinson: Pretty cool to be the first player with collegiate eligibility remaining to be picked by the NFL. I’d be lying if I said I don’t hope this becomes a trend. Collegiate stars heading to the XFL to make money and develop prior to the transition to the NFL could be exactly what this league needs.
Military Academy Guys: Loved seeing these great men, like Keenan Reynolds and Jalen Rowell, get a chance at more professional football. I’m so excited to see Keenan Reynolds tear up this league.
Anybody who wanted to watch Phase 5 of the draft: Big miss by the XFL here. I do not understand why they wouldn’t live stream the most interesting phase of the draft.
Trent Richardson: Unless he wants to play indoor football, it’s time for him to wrap it up and go join the Alabama Football, broadcasting team. After averaging 2 yards per carry in the AAF, the XFL stayed away like a sickness. Can’t blame them.
Draft Pool Kickers: Multiple teams did not select a kicker in the draft. My guess, they’re waiting for the Supplemental draft to pick up more NFL experienced kickers. I hope somebody like Younghoe Koo jumps into the November draft after being cut by the Patriots Practice Squad.
Noel Divine: Undrafted. A long shot football comeback falls short. I’m kind of sad, honestly, as I wanted to see if he had any spark left.
Karter Schult: Hey XFL, please draft this guy in November.
Ryan Mallett: I’m fully convinced Mallett was on track to be a tier 1 Quarterback but recently got arrested for DWI (Idiot). It’s honestly a shame because it would’ve been nice having another Quarterback with legitimate NFL roots. But hey, maybe be responsible and don’t put people’s lives in danger.
Phillip Walker: Yay, you’re the Tier 1 QB of the Houston Roughnecks. Oh no, they drafted Quarterback Connor Cook with their first-round pick, who arguably has more of a recognizable name and has actually played in the NFL regular season. Bizarre situation.
Aging NFL Veterans with some name recognition: The XFL clearly does not care if you have NFL experience on your resume. If you’re old, you have an uphill climb. Kendall Wright, Clay Harbor, Fred Davis, Aaron Ripkowski (Somebody explain this one to me), Robert Meachem, and quite a few more all went undrafted, though they had respectable NFL careers. My quick input: I understand the XFL’s TV partners are much stronger than the AAF’s, but you need recognizable names to draw high viewership. Plus, it would’ve been cool to see some of these careers reignited. I can only hope we see these names back in the Supplemental draft pool.
People that wanted to watch different players than the AAF: Yea, sorry. A solid quarter of these players will be very recognizable AAF names to anybody that watched that league (RIP). Me personally, I wanted the XFL to refresh us with mostly new names, but I understand that’s impossible with the limited talent pool.
Manziel: Yep, still unemployed (Cough though he has more name recognition than anybody in the league Cough)
Did I miss any winners or losers? Let’s get some comments flowing below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Konnor Fulk excelled in the Sports Management Program at Georgia Southern University. He spent several seasons working with the Washington Redskins in fan engagement, strategy, and sales strategy. Additionally, Mr. Fulk continues consulting services across the sport of NASCAR. Konnor has a longstanding obsession with the concept of Spring Football and is looking forward to sharing his expertise and opinions about the XFL relaunch. Connect with Konnor on LinkedIN or give him a follow on Twitter @XFLKonnor (New account, wants to be verified, very much needs followers)