The XFL Draft concluded last week, and I’ve been digging through stats, combine results and film ever since. Happy to say I feel good about this roster they’ve put together in Orlando, and I can’t wait to see these guys in action come spring. Click here for a full analysis of the team’s QB’s, but let’s dive in to the rest of the roster.
Deondre Francois is the team’s presumed QB1, and the former Orange Bowl winner/ACC Rookie of the Year is looking to prove his high potential at the pro level.
Quinten Dormady earned his way to a starting gig at Tennessee, but an untimely shoulder injury forced him out of the lineup and he eventually made waves at Central Michigan.
Mitch Kidd took the JUCO route and transferred to the University of Redlands to play college ball. He spent time with the Champions Indoor Football League and National Arena League, before making his way to the FCF. There, he tore it up and won both MVP and OPOY awards in 2022. The ultimate underdog, I’m excited to see if he can make an impact here.
Jah-Maine Martin has been on my radar for some time, and he was actually at the top of my HBCU running back rankings. His 2019 campaign at North Carolina A&T was legendary, and he ran roughshod over the MEAC for 1446 yards and 23 TD’s. At 5″10 220, he’s a tough runner who has good quickness and burst, and also possesses the vision necessary to make it at the next level. I think Martin has the potential to be a great workhorse back in the XFL. He got a mini-camp tryout with the Colts this offseason, and the Guardians were lucky to get him. Love this pick.
Devin Darrington is a perfect compliment to Martin in this backfield, but he’s also capable of being the guy. At 5’9″ 205, he’s well built and possesses 4.4 speed. He was All-Ivy league at Harvard, where he ran for 1177 yards and 12 TD’s from his freshman-junior campaigns. Darrington transferred to Virginia his senior year and finished with 237 yards, 2 TD’s and a whopping 7.4 yards per carry. He proved there he can get it done against top level competition. He had a stint with the Chiefs this year, and is an exciting young weapon for this offense.
Kelvin Taylor brings NFL veteran experience to this backfield, as he’s been with the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs, Falcons and Browns. He also had a stint with the Apollos in the AAF. He was highly successful with the Florida Gators in college, rushing for 2108 yards at 4.3 YPC and 23 TD’s in his time there. He also offers the most value as a reciever in this backfield, and should be a valuable part of this rotation.
Charleston Rambo played with the Sooners and Hurricanes in college, and put up big numbers in the Big 12 and ACC. His sophomore year at Oklahoma he had 43 receptions, 743 yards and 5 TD’s, and after transferring to Miami racked up 1172 yards and 7 TD’s. A 6’1″ deep threat who caught on with the Panthers this offseason, he has all the tools and proven production to be that guy.
Andrew Jamiel is an FCF stud who’s been putting his name out there for the past couple years with the Glacier Boyz. He’s also been with the Sea Lions in TSL. He went to school at Stonehill, where he had two 1000 yard seasons and finished with 308 receptions, 3639 yards and 30 TD’s in his time with the Skyhawks. He’s been a force in the FCF and will be rejoining Robert Ford, who was also OC with the Glacier Boyz.
Stephen Guidry has all the tools. A 6’4″ target with 4.47 speed, he started in JUCO ball at Hinds, before transferring to Mississippi State. He proved there he can produce at high levels of football and finished with 49 receptions, 827 yards and 8 TD’s in the SEC. That caught the attention of the Dallas Cowboys, who rostered him from 2020-2021 as an UDFA. Now, he’s got a shot to make an impact in the pros, and I would be surprised if we didn’t get some great highlights out of him this spring.
Dontez Byrd has been all around the football world. He walked on at Louisville, and blew up at Tennessee Tech for 152 receptions, 1936 Yards and 13 TD’s. He signed with the Falcons as a UDFA, then played for the Memphis Express (AAF), Seattle Dragons (XFL), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) and Massachusetts Pirates (IFL). He’s seen it all, and should brings good experience to the room.
Octayvius Miles is making his return to the Guardians, after having a stint in New York with the XFL in 2020. The Alabama A&M product offers value as a receiver and returner, and is the definition of a home run threat. A former track star, I’d warrant they use him on offense to keep the safeties high, and he should get first looks as kick returner. Versatile and useful piece to have on this roster.
Patrick Smith was prolific at Tennessee State, and finished there with 114 receptions, 1226 yards and 12 TD’s. The 6’0″ target played with the Conquerers in TSL back in 2020, and could earn a valuable role in this offense.
Dieuly Aristilde is a big 6’4″ target who played at Eastern Michigan (571 yards, 2 TD), Alabama A&M (51 Yards) and Bethel (768 yards 6 TD’s). He landed with the Sasketchewan Roughriders in the CFL, and is now primed to make his pro debut in Orlando.
Cody Latimer was an interesting pick, and I really like the addition of a high-upside NFL vet here. Latimer was a 2nd round pick to Denver back in 2014. He had some production there but was largely overshadowed by Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker his rookie year, and didn’t establish a connection with Denver’s QB carousel in years following behind DT and Sanders. He also played in New York with the Giants, where he had his best production in 2019, but hasn’t seen the field since. He came into the league with great tools as a 6’2″ wideout with 4.44 speed, and I’d love to see him make an impact here.
Bruce Thompson comes highly recommended. A Manning Passing Academy standout, he early on caught the attention of Archie Manning. “He’s real passionate about football” is a direct quote. He caught on as a staff member there, and also is close with Odell Beckham Jr. and his family. The New Orleans native had 35 receptions for 772 yards and 2 TD’s at Langston, and earned a tryout with the Saints. Seems like a great guy to have in the locker room, and on the field.
Ryan Becker was the team’s first selection at tight end, and I have him pencilled in as the starter. He’s got the prototypical frame at 6’5″ 248 pounds, and had some solid production at SMU. 16 receptions for 198 yards might not be eye-popping production, but college tight ends rarely have that. He’s proven solid in the pass game, and was especially productive in the red zone, with 5 TD’s. That means over 1/4 of his catches in college. I’d expect he gets a lot of looks in goal line packages, especially concerning Robert Ford’s focus on TE.
D’Afernee McGriff is an interesting prospect here. He played WR at FAU and FSU, but is listed as a TE. A bigger prospect who stands 6’2″, he’s apparently bulked up recently, and could be a swiss army knife type player who ranges from H-Back to the slot. Intrigued to see what happens here.
Brandon Murphy was the team’s first pick in the OL phase. The 6’6″ 330 pound product out of Memphis is relatively new to football, but is a highly athletic former basketball player. He bulked up to play a year at LT in Memphis, and caught the attention of the NFL early. Jacksonville brought him in, and he also played in TSL. Taking an athletic OT prospect first tells me the team wants him for their LT.
Kamalie Matthews is a 6’2″ 305 pound OL out of Murray State. He was an RT and DT there, and was a TE in high school. With an athletic background like his, he could well lock down the RT spot, but i wonder if his frame will shift him inside to RG. He’s been in the FCF, and is looking to hit that next level in the XFL.
Ja’Chai Baker is a 6’6″ 310 pound LT who played college ball with Wyoming, Southeast Missouri State and South Alabama. He got a shot with the Atlanta Falcons, and has a good amount of experience on the blind side and is a candidate to take the job, especially if Brandon Murphy needs more time to develop.
TJ Bradley is a mountain of a man at 6’8″ 325, and played ball at Maryland. With size like that it’s easiy to imagine him at RT, but I wonder if they’d slot him inside to push the pile from a guard spot.
Joshua Frazier played DT at Alabama, where he had 4.5 sacks and was a key part of their defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers took him in the 7th round, and he also spent time with the Detroit Lions and Birmingham Iron of the AAF. The Guardians took him to play OL, and he certainly has the power and physique to make it at 6’3″ 303 pounds. Could see him working out as a guard to make push up front.
Zeveyon Furcron started 46 games at LG with Southern Illinois. He’s got good bulk in the middle at 6’2″ 327 pounds, and is the first dedicated guard they took here in the draft. I’d expect him to handle the starting LG spot.
Jordan Ighofone is a 6’3″ 335 IOL out of Grambling State. He played JUCO ball at Northeast Oklahoma State Community College, and has experience at both guard and center positions. His versatility there will be a big asset to the team, and I’m interested to see where he ends up on the line.
Jalen Spady is a 6’3″ 315 center out of Florida A&M. He also played guard, but having spent most of his time hiking the ball, I’d imagine they like him as their starter at center. Either way, he’s a good versatile piece inside.
Shawn Page played ball at Bloomfield, Maine and Merrimack, and has played all 5 offensive line positions in his career. It’s great to have someone like this on your gameday active roster, because you know they can step into any spot on the line and perform.
Sunday Deng is another towering OT prospect, who stands 6’7″ 290 pounds. He played ball at Northwest Oklahoma State, and has been in the FCF. He’s versatile, able to play LT and RT, and would make an ideal swing tackle with his experience.
Abram Holland was added in the Open Phase of the draft, and he’s a 6’2″ 300 pound RG. He’s recently been in the FCF, and played college ball at New Mexico State.
Guardians DL coach Ty Warren said that in evaluating their defensive front, they wanted versatile players who could play multiple positions in the trenches, and Nick Coe fits this perfectly. At 6’5″ 285 he has the length and bulk to play inside or kick out to seal the edge. He played DL his freshman and sophomore years at Auburn, before moving to LB his junior year. In 3 years in the SEC, he had 9 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. He signed with New England as an UDFA and had a stint with the Dolphins before moving to the CFL where he was with the Roughriders and Elks. Now, he’s getting a shot to make an impact in the pros in the XFL. His pass rush chops are there, and I expect him to be a force wherever he lines up.
Gerald Willis is listed as a DT, and at 6’2″ 300 lbs he fits the bill. Willis played with the Gators and Hurricanes in college, and finished his NCAA run with 5.5 sacks and 92 tackles. He went on to play with the Ravens, Dolphins and Packers in the NFL where he saw limited action, and he’s looking to build on that resume now. He’s got experience against top-end talent and is equipped to hold down the middle of this defense.
Stanley Maponga is making his return to the XFL after a run with the Seattle Dragons in 2020. He was a force with TCU in college, notching 15.5 sacks and 113 tackles, and spent time with the Falcons, Giants and Broncos in the NFL. He got a sack with the Falcons, was a key contributor for the Dragons, and even played in the CFL for Ottawa after the XFL shuttered in 2020. A true veteran pass-rusher, I hope to see him in the backfield early and often.
Keonte Schad played for Minnesota and Oregon State, and had a great senior campaign with the Beavers. He finished the 2021 season with 29 tackles, 6 for loss and 2.5 sacks along with 2 passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Schad stands 6’2″ 284 pounds, and fits Ty Warren’s bill of a versatile D-Lineman. He could stand at the 3-Tech, DT spot or line up on the edge if needed. With a stint in Arizona with the Cardinals under his belt, Schad is a valuable young piece here.
Emmanuel Olenga redshirted at NC State his freshman year but first saw the field at Campbell, where he had 8.5 sacks, 60 tackles and 15 for a loss. He then transferred to Jackson State but did not play there before winding up in Tennessee State’s program, where he had 2.5 sacks, 30 tackles and 6.5 for a loss. The 6’5″ 260 pound defender is built like an edge and I’m interested to see what kind of impact he can make here.
Caeveon Patton played DT and NT at Texas State, where he had 179 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and 6 PD. His production there caught the attention of the Indianapolis Colts, despite going undrafted in an upside down 2021 draft process. The 6’2″ 300 pounder is a great candidate to hold down one of the inside spots, regardless of if Orlando goes with 3-down or 4-down as base.
Khristian Tate is a 6’0″ 295 lb DL from Georgetown. In 4 seasons there he had 163 tackles, 35.5 for loss and 19 sacks. He also had 4 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and had 2 big man TD’s on defense. He made plays all over the field, and I hope that disruptive energy translates at the next level.
Jacoby Jones is a 6’5″ 244 pound edge defender from Texas, and he had 63 tackles, 5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. While he declared for the 2022 Draft, Jones went unselected and is getting his shot at the pros in the XFL. He proved himself as a rotational player with the Longhorns, and will hope to compete for a larger role with the Guardians.
Jeremiah Gemmel was taken in the open phase of the draft, and he’s listed as a DL. This is interesting because he generally has played off-ball linebacker in college and the pros, but perhaps they like his speed and burst at the EDGE. Gemmel did have 6.5 sacks along with 238 tackles and 20 for losses at North Carolina, so the skillset and production is there. At 6’1″ 226 some might say he’s undersized for a pass-rush role, but I think he perfectly embodies the versatility they’re looking for here. After stints with the 49ers and Broncos, he adds a swiss army knife skillset to this D.
Lakia Henry was named the #1 JUCO ILB prospect in 2018, and chose to transfer to Ole Miss. With the Rebels, he played 3 seasons and racked up 188 tackles, 9 tfl and 3.5 sacks. High level production in the SEC is always a good sign, and this speedy tackling machine is a great get for the Guardians front seven.
Terrance Smith is a veteran LB who’s played with the Chiefs, Dolphins, Cardinals and Ottawa Redblacks. The Florida State standout has 38 tackles, a sack and a pick in the NFL, and would be a natural candidate to be the defensive signal-caller on the field. Having a veteran presence like this in the middle should pay dividends.
Terrance Plummer is a familiar face, and it’s good to see another vet in this group. The UCF product has played with Washington and Minnesota in the NFL before heading to the alt-league circuit. He has been with the Toronto Argonauts, where he won a Grey Cup and cinched a pick-six in the playoffs, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Orlando Apollos and Tampa Bay Vipers. Glad to see him back in the XFL, good pickup by Orlando.
DeCalon Brooks is the son of legendary LB Derrick Brooks, and has been building a resume of his own. At Florida State, he played 5 years, racking up 73 tackles, 3.5 for loss and a sack as well as 4 pass defenses. He got a look from his old man’s team in Tampa Bay this offseason, and is looking to build his own name now in the pros.
Erroll Thompson was a massively productive LB at Mississippi State. The SEC All-Freshman and team captain had 313 tackles, 22 tfl, 9.5 sacks, 3 picks and 7 passes defensed in 4 seasons. Standing at 6’1″ 250 he’s got a classic build for a MLB, and after a stay with the Atlanta Falcons I think he’s got a great shot to make an impact here. Exactly the kind of prospect that thrives in the XFL.
CJ Holmes was the first DB taken by Orlando, and there’s a lot to like with the Jackson State product. In 3 years with JSU he recorded 5 interceptions, 22 PD and 80 tackles. A longer corner at 6’1″ 185, he played a lot of nickel in college under Deion Sanders, and from instincts, to tools and production, there’s a lot to like here. Young, high ceiling CB.
Dee Virgin is a veteran corner whos been with the Texans, Lions, Rams, Patriots, 49ers and Bears. He’s been able to attract a lot of attention from teams during his time in the league, and has seen limited action with 15 tackles and a forced fumble. The 5’9″ 195 pound DB played for West Alabama and Tennessee-Chattanooga and recorded 7 interceptions, 33 passes defensed, and interestingly enough, 13.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. I see why this staff liked him, and he should be a valuable piece in this secondary.
Mike Lee has played both safety and corner spots, but is listed as a CB as it stands. He was prolific at Kansas, racking up 286 tackles and 5 interceptions with the Jayhawks. He went undrafted in 2021, but has been having massive success in FCF, where he’s notched 5 picks and 41 tackles. Interested to see where they line him up here.
Antwan Collier played at UCF and Florida A&M at the safety position, but he’s been listed as a CB here. With a 6’3″ 195 pound frame, I think it would make sense to put him at boundary corner to lock up bigger wideouts, especially in the redzone. A certified ballhawk with 7 picks, 26 picks and 198 tackles on his college resume, he won Defensive MVP at the 2022 HBCU Legacy Bowl, and I actually had him scouted in my HBCU Defensive Prospect rankings. I like this pick a lot.
Maurice Smitherman was a career corner at Mississippi State, where he recorded 2 picks, 5 PD and 48 tackles. He had cemented a role as starter in his senior campaign, and is making a comeback here in the XFL. The 5’10” 195 DB has good experience in the SEC, and brings a good resume to the table.
Marcus Murphy is another Mississippi State product, where he played safety. His time with the Bulldogs saw him finish with 67 tackles, 2 picks and 5 pass defenses. He’s 6’1″ 200 and while he’s listed as CB in the draft announcement, I’d expect to see him move around. Buckley and Carter have incredible feel for the position, and are looking for their guys to be versatile as well.
Roman Tatum played college ball at Delaware and Southern Illinois, and has been around the alt-football world. From the LA Wildcats in the XFL’s 2020 debut to the Spokane Shock in the IFL, he’s been making a name for himself in this sphere, and it’s paid off in another shot at the field. The XFL’s website incorrectly has him listed as 5’1″ 174 pounds, but I doubt height is going to be an issue for the 6’1″ corner.
Javaris Davis is a 5’10” 186 lb corner out of Auburn, and he put up some huge numbers in the SEC. 150 tackles, 8 picks and 32 PD is a pretty hefty statline, and he went on to catch on with the Chiefs, Dolphins and Bengals in the NFL. He got a little bit of playing time in Miami, notching 2 tackles and a PD, and has all the tools to put up good film in the XFL.
Najeem Hosein is a 6’1″ 195 DB out of Ferris State. He’s the first “DB” listed on the draft report, but as I’m moving through the list here I think those tags might be arbitrary until we reach camp. Hosein helped the Bulldogs win a record 15 games and the Div II Championship. Guys with Division II success always carry a great edge to them as they look to prove themselves at the next level, let’s see what he can do.
Shaquille Wiggins played 4 years at Georgia, Louisville and Tennessee and flashed some big play potential with 4 picks for 91 yards and a score. We saw him with the Atlanta Legends in the AAF, and hope to see some of that ballhawk potential here with the Guardians.
Matt Elam is a rock solid NFL vet who was a 1st round draft pick out of Florida. He started 26 games in Baltimore, racking up 131 tackles, 7 PD’s and a pick. After Baltimore he played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL), DC Defenders (XFL), Tuscon Sugar Skulls (IFL) and Edmonton Elks (CFL). He’s now back in the XFL and after a successful 2020 campaign that saw him notch 15 tackles and a pick in just 4 games, I’m glad there’s a steady veteran presence on the back end here.
Justin Rogers is a 5’11” 195 pound DB out of UTEP. He was a menace in the CUSA conference, racking up 180 tackles,6 interceptions and 17 pass defenses. He has some of the best college production out of anyone on this list, and he was a 2x All-Star in the ELF with the Hamburg Sea Devils. He also contributes on special teams, and may or may not have tested positive for that dawg.
Lashard Durr will be rejoining many of his Miss. State secondary comrades on this roster, and the 5’11” 195 lb had 36 tackles, 5 PD and a pick after joining the Bulldogs out of JUCO ball. He caught on with the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL before dipping into the coaching world at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Making his return to the field at 28 years old, he brings good leadership and experience to this room.
Tyler Williams rounds out our Mississippi State secondary here, and it’s remarkable how many of these guys made their way to the team. The 6’2″ 175 lb corner has great length and almost surely filled out since his college days. He was a key contributer in 2019, making 29 stops, and 4 pass breakups.
Mark Williams is a 6’0″ 175 pound DB out of Easter Illinois. He was an absolute threat over the top in college, making 8 picks for 187 yards and 2 TD’s on returns. He also finished with 155 tackles and 31 PD’s in his time there. He then Transferred to Louisiana-Monroe, where he had 24 tackles, 3 PD and a pick.
Jose Borregales is a Lou Groza Award-winning, All-American, All-ACC kicker out of FIU and Miami. He made 79.5% of his FGA in college, but drastically improved to 90.9% in his senior campaign. Having spent the last two offseasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers behind Ryan Succop, he’s ready to make his pro debut in Orlando.
Andrew Anckle punted for McKendree, South Dakota and Southern Illinois in college. In three seasons, he averaged 39.6, 40.6 and 38.0 Y/P, but with a long of 50 has the range to get it done.
Tommy Auger is actually a TE prospect who the team has brought in here to be a long snapper. He was a First-Team All-Pro in FCF, and also played in the Austrian Football League. Glad he caught on here as the LS, but wouldnt be surprised if Robert Ford sees it in him and draws up some plays. Interesting pick here at the end of the draft.
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