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XFL Draft Recap 2022: Vegas Vipers XFL Draft Recap and Review

The XFL Draft kicked off this past Wednesday and went into Thursday with many hours of coverage. It didn’t take long for the Vegas Vipers to start putting together a pretty solid team I gave them an A overall rating, and they seem ready to go all out on all the XFL teams and Rod Woodson and his coaching staff. Below I have broken down every pick the Vegas Vipers have selected, including in the Open Phase.

Round 1 – Offensive Skill

Round 1; Pick 5 – Wide Receiver – Martavis Bryant (Clemson)

The first pick from the Vegas Vipers went to wide receiver Martavis Bryant who has had who was a stand-out wide receiver during his time with Clemson and came across trouble in the NFL with suspensions wants to rewrite history and show Rod Woodson and staff precisely what he has to offer as a target for Jalan McClendon and Luis Perez. Martavis, drafted in the fourth round (118th overall) 2014 NFL Draft, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2014-2017, where he dealt with injuries and suspensions after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He would go on to play in 36 games over the four seasons in Pittsburgh, catching 126 passes for a total of 1,917 yards for 17 touchdowns.

He would play in 4 postseason games for the Steelers, completing 21 receptions for 322 yards for 3 touchdowns. He’d finish his NFL career in Oakland with the Raiders in 2018, playing in 8 games, completing 19 passes for 266 yards and no touchdowns. He would go on to play in the FCF (Fan Controlled Football), playing in four games for the Beasts scoring two touchdowns with 8 completions for 93 yards. What will Martavis bring to the Vegas Vipers in 2023? And can he assist his quarterbacks in making some game-changing plays?

Round 2; Pick 12 – Running Back – John Lovett (Penn St)

John Lovett, who spent his college career mainly at Baylor, transferred for his senior year to Penn State. Lovett, who many called the most underrated running back in the BIG 12, will bring his Derrick Henry speed and running game to the Vipers. When Lovett got going, he was impossible to stop. Between the five full years he played in college, he would run 407 times for 1,980 yards with 17 touchdowns, 38 receptions for 219 yards and 1 touchdown.

John Lovett, who is a 6 foot 210 pound running back, never was drafted in the NFL but did sign as an undrafted free agent for the Carolina Panthers back in May, he wasn’t able to make the final roster, but it does make me wonder if they would have given him a chance if they knew Christian McCaffery wasn’t going to be part of the long term plan. Instead, Lovett will have his first real chance at a pro shot in the XFL the February.

Round 3; Pick 21 – Tight End – Brandon Dillion (Marian)

Brandon Dillion is 25 years old and 6 ft 5 in, 250 lb Tight End. He has only got a taste of the pro football experience he would receive after a college career at Marian University (Indiana). When Brandon entered Marian during his freshman year, he witnessed the team winning the 2015 NAIA National Championship. He would go on over the four-year college career with 1065 receptions for 1,661 receiving yards for 14 touchdowns in just 42 games he played. Brandon would go as an undrafted free agent and be signed by the Minnesota Vikings, no one thought he would make the final roster, but sure enough, he was part of the 53-man roster and made his NFL debut in the Viking’s season opener in 2019.

Unfortunately would be waived two days later but would be resigned to the practice squad; just a few months later, Brandon signed a reserve/future contract, but the following season would go back to the practice squad and be elevated during weeks 10, 12, and 13. He wouldn’t play another game in the NFL but would go to the Jets and Saints practice squads before being released both times. That brings us to the XFL, where he will get the opportunity to play pro football and get some tape to get back into the NFL. Possibly, he will have two great quarterbacks assisting him in this journey.

Round 4; Pick 28 – Tight End – Sean Price (South Florida)

Sean Price is returning to the XFL after being pretty familiar with Spring Football, with this being his third shot at having a spring football league be successful and complete a season. Before playing in the AAF and XFL, Sean Price spent his college career at South Florida from 2012-2015, playing in 47 games catching 47 receptions for 907 yards and 6 touchdowns. He would not have any pro experience leading into his time with the AAF in 2019 when he played for the Orlando Apollos, where he played in 8 games catching 3 receptions for 62 yards. After the AAF shutdown, Sean would find himself with the Dallas Renegades in the XFL in 2020 and played in 4 of the 5 games that the Renegades would play in before the league was shut down due to the pandemic. He would catch 6 receptions for 70 yards giving the Renegades 4 first downs; this was the last time Sean played football, and comes into the league as Viper this time around in Vegas.

Round 5; Pick 37 – Running Back – Matt Jones {Florida)

Matt Jones already had a competition on the board when the Vipers drafted him as a running back. Like his teammate Sean Price, Matt Jones found himself back in the XFL in 2020; this time, he will take his talents to Vegas instead of playing for the St. Louis BattleHawks. But before we go back to his time with the BattleHawks, Matt’s football career started to shine in college at Florida, where he played in 12 games his freshman year and rushed for 275 yards on 52 carries for 3 touchdowns. Despite having a torn meniscus, he would play 5 games his sophomore year, still rushing for 339 yards on 79 carries with 2 touchdowns. He would play his final year in college during his junior year; after returning from his injury, he would have 817 rushing yards from 166 carries with 6 touchdowns. He would then enter the 2015 NFL Draft after his junior year and be selected 95th overall by the Washington Redskins; he would spend two years with the Redskins before going to the Colts, where he would finish his NFL career for the time being with 964 rushing yards with 6 touchdowns and then 27 receptions for 377 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.

Matt would then join the XFL in 2020 with the BattleHawks, where he would be named the mid-season All-XFL team after rushing for 314 yards and a touchdown on 80 rushes and having 25 receiving yards and a touchdown. The following year he signed with the Sea Lions (The Spring League), but it doesn’t appear he played during the season. Matt will bring his pro experience to Vegas and look to hit the jackpot as a running back and show coach Woodson precisely what he is capable of, just like during the 2020 season.

Round 6; Pick 44 – Wide Receiver – Jeff Badet (Oklahoma)

I have to admit when I saw Jeff Badet’s name show up as being drafted to the Vegas Vipers, I was instantly excited to no end; being a Dallas Renegades fan in 2020, Jeff Badet was no stranger to any Dallas Renegades fan, I had the pleasure of personally meeting Jeff before one of the Renegades game, and he was a very kind person. I feel Jeff Badet brings a passion for the game to the Vipers like no other; before his stint in the XFL, he played most of his college career for Kentucky (2013-2016) and then would wrap up his senior year with Oklahoma (2017), he would finish his college career playing in 46 games completing 108 receptions for 1,785 yards, with 10 touchdowns, he would also have 66 rushing yards as well. This 6 ft, 178 lb wide receiver would be undrafted during the 2018 draft and sign with the Vikings but would not see any actual season games during his time with the Vikings.

He would then be drafted in the 2020 XFL draft by former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and play in all five Renegades games, target 31 times, catching 16 of those passes for 108 yards, while the Renegades struggled to find their identity with constant Quarterback injuries and back and forth between Landry Jones, Brogan Roback, Eric Dungey, and Philip Nelson, Jeff Badet never really got to shine with scoring any touchdowns as the Renegades themselves struggled.

After the XFL shutdown, he signed with the Washington Football Team and was elevated to the active roster for week 7 and 9 games against the Cowboys and Giants, but her would not play and be waived the following year. Later in 2021, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons but was released due to an injury. Then signed later that season with the Raiders but never made the roster and stayed on the practice squad. Jeff Badet is another name coming from the USFL, where he was drafted to the Michigan Panthers but injured his hamstring and was released from his USFL contract a couple of weeks later. Jeff Badet has struggled with injuries between the NFL and USFL but looks to shine in Vegas as another excellent target for McClendon and Perez.

Round 7; Pick 53 – Wide Receiver – Isiah Macklin (NC Central)

Isiah Macklin will return home to his birthplace to suit up for the Vegas Vipers, and with the 7th round, 53rd overall pick, the Vipers selected Macklin, who in college was a tight end and is now listed as a wide receiver. Isiah Macklin made his college debut in 2017, with San Diego State University playing in two seasons for them between 2017-2018 having 7 receptions for 98 yards. This 6’4. 236 lb. transferred to North Carolina Central in 2021, where he would catch 16 receptions for 201 yards with 1 touchdown; he looks to bring his size and strength to the Vipers offense to grow as he got a small taste of pro football when he was invited to the New York Jets minicamp this year but did not make the team.

Round 8; Pick 60 – Wide Receiver – Mathew Sexton (Eastern Michigan)

Mathew Sexton is the Viper’s 4th Wide Receiver so far this draft, and Mathew will look to bring his experience to the XFL, which started at Eastern Michigan, where he would play between 2016-2019. He would play in 37 games with 100 receptions for 1,335 yards, scoring 9 touchdowns. He also has experience with kick returns and completed 21 returns for 353 yards and two punt returns for 77 yards with one touchdown. He does excellent with gaining deep separation in his speed and making sudden spear catches of high throws, according to NFL.com prospects note.

After not getting drafted in 2020, he would end up in The Spring League with the Aviators roster in San Antonio, Texas, but then in 2021, would be signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a pro day workout and would stay on the team through the preseason but wouldn’t make the team’s final cuts. He would then be picked up with the Chiefs under a reserve/future contract. He would get hurt on the Chiefs roster and be released from the team’s injured reserve with a settlement. Hopefully, with the XFL, Mathew will get to show his talent to everyone and possibly make it back onto an NFL roster one day.

Round 9; Pick 69 – Running Back – DeAndre Torrey (North Texas)

The third running back off the board for the Vipers comes in the 9th round, 69th pick overall, and its no other than DeAndre Torrey who comes over from the USFL, a former Michigan Panther when he signed onto the team in the final regular season game appearing in that last name having two rushes for three yards. But don’t let his time in the USFL count him out; before the USFL and the NFL, he would split his college career between Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and North Texas; At Mississippi, he would play his first year in 9 games where he rushed for 1,298 yards and score 12 touchdowns on 185 attempts which were the second highest nationally which would lead him to get an offer from North Texas.

Torrey accepted the offer and would play his first season with the school in 2018, where he rushed 175 times for 977 yards with 15 touchdowns which was a team-leading stat. He also would have 25 receptions for 205 yards; the following season, Torrey would rush for 380 yards based on 73 carries and then 16 catches for 86 yards. The following season Torrey would be named an honorable mention all-conference selection where he rushed 113 times for 656 yards and 6 touchdowns in only 9 games. But that’s not it; in 2020, he would play in his senior year running for 1,215 yards out of 248 attempts and scoring 13 touchdowns, earning second-team all-conference honors and the Earl Campbell Award for being the national player of the week. He would not be picked in the 2022 NFL Draft but would attend the Jets training camp. Then after playing with the Michigan Panthers, he would sign with the Eagles after a successful tryout; he was released on August 23rd, which brings us to the Vegas Vipers and the XFL, DeAndre is a huge pick-up for the Vipers, and if he can get anything like his college career, the Vegas Vipers are in for a treat.

Round 10; Pick 76 – Wide Receiver – Saeed Blacknall (Penn St)

Saeed Blacknall is another Las Vegas Viper who was part of the Los Angeles Wildcats in 2020. Bit his football career goes back to Penn State in 2014; Blacknall’s college career went from 2014-2017, where he would play in a total of 30 games over the 4 seasons and get 50 receptions for 979 yards with 7 touchdowns. During his tenure at Penn State, the team won the Croke Park Classic Championship (2014), Pinstripe Bowl Championship (2014), the Big Ten Championship (2016), and the Fiesta Bowl Championship (2017). In 2018 he would go undrafted. The Oakland Raiders would give Blacknall his first pro experience, where in his first preseason game, he scored a 45-yard touchdown again the Seahawks. He was then waived before the season started. He would bounce around from Miami Dolphins to Arizona Cardinals before landing in the XFL in 2020.

When Blacknall was drafted during the supplemental draft in 2019, he scored his first pro touchdown during a regular season game with a 42 yards touchdown pass from Josh Johnson against the New York Guardians. The following week he’d catch another touchdown pass from Josh Johnson. During his time in the XFL before it shut down, he would record 4 receptions for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 targets in three games during the 2020 season. When the league shut down, the Pittsburgh Steelers would sign him, but he was waived, and then tried out for the Panthers but ultimately back with Pittsburgh in August of 2020 before getting cut. Blacknall is one of many players who haven’t played football since the 2020 season and looks to get back on the field and continue where he left off.

Round 11; Pick 85 – Tight End – Grayson Gunter (Southern Miss)

Grayson Gunter is a tight end who started his college career in Arkansas in 2016 as a freshman. Where he played in all 13 games where he started on the kick-off return unit, he would get only 1 reception for 29 yards in that first year, but over the next four years between 2018-2021, he would play another two seasons with Arkansas and then transfer to Southern Mississippi. He would end up playing in a total of 22 games, getting 34 receptions for 410 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns total. He would be signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars on May 1st of this year but waived on August 22nd as he failed to make an impact on staying on the roster for the 2022 season. Gunter is looking to activate his pro career in February with the Vegas Vipers.

Round 2 – Defensive Backs

Round 1; Pick 8 – Defensive Back – Keylon Kennedy (Garden City CC)

Keylon Kennedy is a defensive back that played in 11 games with Garden City CC, where he would get 20 total tackles (15 tackles, 5 assists) and snatch 1 interception. Kennedy being 5’11 ft, 185 lb DB, grew up in Dayton Beach, FL, where before joining Garden City CC, he played at Fort Hayes State in 2018, where he started all 12 games and was an All-MIAA Honorable Mention (Won conference title), tied for 7th on the team in tackles with 49 and then was rated number 1 by JUCO DB by Gridiron RR.

Round 2; Pick 9 – Defensive Back – Jameson Houston (Baylor)

Jameson Houston, the 5’11 ft; 200 l defensive back, played all his college career at Baylor from 2015-2019, playing in a total of 48 games, recording 80 tackles and 1 interception. He would go on to be bounced around the NFL from the Browns, Panthers, Eagles, and Jaguars. Earlier this year, Houston was drafted by the Michigan Panthers in the 2022 USFL draft, going 5th in the 9th round. Houston would capture 2 interceptions and get 45 total tackles. He is just another USFL player coming over to the XFL and will work very well under a Cris Dishman Defensive, looking to make an immediate impact as he did with the Panthers.

Round 3; Pick 24 – Defensive Back – Maurice Smith (Georgia)

Maurice Smith’s college career started with Alabama from 2013-2015, where he had 38 overall tackles, 2 of them for losses, and then 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He would then transfer to Georgia for his senior year in 2016, recording 50 total tackles, 2 for a loss, and 1 sack. He would get 2 interceptions going for 34 yards and 1 touchdown from those two interceptions. He would force 2 fumbles and recover both of them. He would go on to play for multiple NFL teams; in 2016, he was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Dolphins, where he would get 2 passes defended for interceptions. He would go on between 2018-2020, bouncing around practice squads and activations but would not see any gameplay with the Redskins, Bengals, or Titans before being released. Maurice will try to bring some turnovers to the Viper’s defense and show what he has to offer to the defense.

Round 4; Pick 25 – Defensive Back – Mister Harriel (Cal St-Sacramento)

Defensive Back Mister Harriel played at Sacramento State from 2015-2018, where he played in 36 games and got 5 interceptions for 28 yards, 153 total tackles, and 2 sacks for a loss of 12 yards total. Mister Harriel would then end up signing with the British Columbia Lions in the CFL in 2020, but due to the canceled season would not play. Mister would take his talents to the Indoor Football League, where he would play with the Vegas Knight Hawks during the 2022 season, play in 14 games, and have a total of 48 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble, which was reported in a fumble recovery. Mister will head back to the gridiron in February and try to continue picking off quarterbacks in the XFL.

Round 5; Pick 40 – Defensive Back – Nijuel Hill (Delaware)

Nijuel Hill played 5 seasons for Delaware, where he would play in a total of 53 games bringing in 7 interceptions for 47 yards. He would have a total of 136 total tackles and 0.5 sacks. He would not be drafted in the 2022 NFL draft but would attend Washington’s rookie minicamp and a tryout and then was signed to a contract in May. In mid-July, he would be cut from the roster; he will get his first chance with the Vipers to play at a pro level like many other talents across the XFL; the one thing Vegas has taken into consideration is just how much this draft class the Vipers have put together of Defensive Backs sure do have a lot of interceptions instead in college or at the pro level.

Round 6; Pick 41 – Defensive Back – Nick Pickett (Oregon)

Nick Pickett, the 6’1 ft, 210 lb safety in college, comes into the XFL as a defensive back; he played in 40 games for Oregon from the PAC-12, where he had 165 total tackles and 2 interceptions. He became the 9th Oregon player in the 2021 draft class to join an NFL roster and the fifth defensive back to do so as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions and spent some time in their minicamp but would end up signing with the Edmonton Elks in June of 2021 but would only stay on the team until July 29th, 2021 when he would be released. Pickett is another Defensive back that could bring some depth to the Viper’s defense this upcoming season.

Round 7; Pick 56 – Defensive Back – Antonio Phillips (Ball State)

Phillips, who comes out of Ball State from 2017-2020, will bring some smashmouth football to the Vegas Vipers, where he played in 35 games and had 137 total tackles, 2 sacks, 8 interceptions, and 1 touchdown off an interception and 1 forced fumble. The 6 ft 191 lb defensive back was struck with tragedy during his junior year of college when his little brother was shot and killed; in the first game of the season, Phillips intercepted a pass dropping to one knee to honor his brother.

In 2021 his dreams of playing in the NFL would get closer as the Cincinnati Bengals would sign him on May 14th, 2021, as one of their 6 college free agents from the 2021 NFL Draft class; he would play in 2 of the Bengals preseason games and missed one with an injury, he finished the preseason with three tackles. He would not make the final roster but would be signed to the Houston Texans practice squad for only two weeks before being released. Phillips looks to show everyone what they missed at the pro level and help the Vipers.

Round 8; Pick 57 – Defensive Back – Will Adams (Virginia State)

Will Adams comes to the XFL with 5 years of play for Virginia State, playing in 36 games, snatching 5 interceptions for 58 yards and 151 total tackles. He is big, tall, fast, and very athletic, per his defensive backs coach Evan Jones who also stated

“Everything about him says, ‘Hey, this should be a Division I guy.”

– Evan Jones Defensive Backs Coach at Virginia State

Will Adams would be signed to the Washington Commanders on May 13th of this year but would be waived two months later on June 13th. Adams was named to the ALL-CIAA First Team, ranking in the top 10 in the conference with 40 solo tackles his senior year at Virginia State; with a lot of praise Adams has received, it is no surprise that Cris Dishman picked a defensive back that could shine massively in an alt-football league like the XFL to build his stock to get back on an NFL roster in 2023.

Round 9; Pick 72 – Defensive Back – Deontay Anderson (Houston)

Deontay started his college career at Ole Miss in 2016, playing in 11 games with 32 tackles and 1 interception. He would then transfer to Houston, where he would play the next four years from 2018-2021, switching between a defensive back, safety, and linebacker. He would play in 44 games with Houston, where he would get getting 209 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception while forcing 3 fumbles and recovering 1 of those.

He would get some interest right before the NFL draft from the Packers, Seahawks, Texans, Steelers, and Bills. To land on any of these teams would have been a delight for Deontay, but he would not be drafted in the NFL draft but would be for the Vegas Vipers this past week. Deontay Anderson is one player that the Vipers have signed that could be used at different positions if need be; it will be interesting to see if he stays as a defensive back.

Round 10; Pick 73 – Defensive Back – Adam Sparks (Louisiana-Monroe)

Adam Sparks spent almost all of his time in the SEC with Missouri from 2017-2020, where he played as a defensive back, he would play in 29 games with Missouri having 98 total tackles, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles with 1 of those being a fumble recovery. In 2021 he would transfer to Louisiana-Monroe as a Senior, playing in 8 games, but this time around as a safety, he would have 48 total tackles and 1 forced fumble and recovery. He would not be drafted in the 2022 draft, which would lead him into the XFL draft pool; Adam will join a long list of defensive backs that were selected by the Vipers which dual positions they could use him at.

Round 3 – Defensive Front Seven

Round 1; Pick 1 – Linebacker – Vic Beasley (Clemson)

With the first pick in round 1 of the defensive front seven, the Vipers didn’t hesitate to shock everyone by taking an absolute legend in the game of football; At the same time, Vic maybe 30 years old, and he brings much pro experience and mindset on the game of football. Vic started his college career at a very dominant school with Clemson; he played 67 games between 2011-2014, completing 48 total tackles and a massive total of 30 sacks and 7 forced fumbles, recovering 2 of those.

Vic would be selected in the 1st round, 8th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he would spend most of his career playing in 78 games with 156 total tackles, 37.5 sacks, 1 interception, 12 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, and 2 touchdowns both off forced fumbles. He would then play his last two years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders, where he played in 10 different games, 5 with each team, and only got 1 force fumble with the Titans and 3 total tackles. Vic is looking to close up his career with a new chance and experience by coming to the XFL and returning to Las Vegas to play for the Vipers.

Round 2; Pick 16 – Linebacker – Max Roberts (Boston College)

Maximilian (Max) Roberts started his college career at Fordham and Maine; he would then come over to Boston College to take his level of play to another level which would happen in 2020; he would play in 8 games producing 22 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. During the 2021 draft, Roberts went undrafted but would later sign with the Los Angeles Rams, but just months later was waived before the final 53-man roster was announced. Max is one of many that fit the “Dwayne Johnson” 54th man speech and will try to set a different path in his football career; Max will get his first real pro chance this February under the stat studded lights that make the Las Vegas strip shine.

Round 3; Pick 17 – Defensive Line – Robert Windsor (Penn State)

Robert Windsor played all his college career at Penn State from 2015-2019; he played in 47 games, bringing in 120 total tackles, 13 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. After his senior season, he was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference and participated in the 2020 Senior Bowl and 2020 NFL Combine. When he entered the NFL draft in 2020, he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 6th round, 193rd overall. But it would be waived on September 5th, 2020, and I was signed to the practice squad the following day.

Robert would be placed on the active roster for the team’s weeks 11 and 12 against the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans but would be put back on the practice squad just as quickly as he came up to the active roster. In July 2021, he would be placed on the injured reserve, and then on April 7th, 2022, he would officially retire from the NFL, citing injuries and delays in his rehabilitation as the main reason. As we fast forward 7 months, Robert officially has been drafted to the Vegas Vipers; we all wish him the best of luck and hope that he does not have any more injuries in possibly resetting his career in the XFL.

Round 4; Pick 32 – Linebacker – Pita Taumoepenu (Utah)

Pita played for the University of Utah in the Pac-12 and played in 26 games, recording 67 tackles, 18 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. In 2017, Pita would be selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round, 202nd overall. He would go from being waived to then being signed on the practice squad to being activated to then being waived again. On May 29th, 2019, Pita was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals, where he would get placed on the injured reserve and then released and received a settlement on September 10th, 2019. Between 2019 and 2022, Pita would sign with the Seahawks, Falcons, and Broncos, ultimately never playing in a game and being released. During his pro time of being activated and released, he would play in a total of 7 games and have a capacity of 5tackles.

Round 5; Pick 33 – Defensive Line – Jah’Sheem Martin (Pace)

Jah’Sheem Martin played at Pace University, a Division 2 school, where he played 42 games between 2014-2018. He accounted for 192 total tackles over the four years he played and had 10.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. The 6’3 ft, 310 lb Defensive lineman, was a draft prospect in 2019 but never was drafted or signed onto a team.

Round 6; Pick 48 – Linebacker – D.J. Calhoun (Arizona St)

D.J. Calhoun comes to the XFL formally playing with Arizona State from 2014-2017 as a linebacker with 237 total tackles, 19.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. During his Sophomore year, his most memorable play wasn’t on the defense, but on September 24th, 2016, Calhoun returned a 42-yard onside kick for a touchdown to seal Arizona State’s victory again.

In 2018 D.J. signed with the Cleveland Browns after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft.

He would not make the final roster cut but would sign with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2019 and wouldn’t play any games for them.

Round 7; Pick 49 – Linebacker – P.J. Dawson (TCU)

Paul “P.J.” Dawson played at TCU from 2012-2014 as a linebacker having 241 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. He would be named the 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 Consensus All-American, and he would go on to be drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 3rd round, 99th overall. He would play for two years with the Bengals in 13 games, getting 13 total tackles.

The Bengals waived him after injuring a bone in his wrist in 2017. Later that year, he would be signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad and was activated on December 13th, 2017. He would then be waived on May 7th, 2018. In September of that year, he was signed in the CFL to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and promoted to their active roster two weeks later; on September 29th, 2018, he played in two games where he got 1 special team tackle.

P.J. will bring quite a bit of pro experience with him and look to assist the Vipers with his size and weight (6’1 ft, 240 lbs). Multiple league experiences incl,using his time with TCU, will hopefully help him get his career restarted in the XFL.

Round 8; Pick 64 – Linebacker – C.J. Avery (Louisville)

C.J. Avery had quite the college career at Louisville, playing over 5 seasons between 2017-2021, where he would bring in 349 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries. After going unselected in the 2022 NFL Draft, C.J. signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears, but after an undisclosed injury to the Bears, he was waived from the injured reserve with a settlement. If C.J. can stay healthy with the Vipers, it is a strong possibility he could make a massive difference to the overall defense and make them a scary reason to face.

Round 9; Pick 65 – Defensive Line – LaRon Stokes (Oklahoma)

LaRon Stokes comes to the Vegas Vipers and the XFL playing in the Big 12 with Oklahoma from 2019-2021 after playing for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. During his time in Oklahoma, he played in 32 games, had 35 total tackles and 1.5 sacks and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2019, his 2020 season would come to a halt after 8 games due to an injury. He would sign with the Arizona Cardinals following the 2022 NFL Draft joining his former teammates, Kyler Murray, Marquise Brown, and Marquis Hayes. But on May 17th, he was then released.

Round 10; Pick 80 – Defensive Line – Rod Henderson (Alabama St)

Rod Henderson is another Vegas Viper that was a part of the 2020 Los Angeles Wildcats during the 2020 XFL season. But that isn’t where Rod Henderson’s career started, which was back at Alabama State from 2013-2016; he would play in 28 total games having 78 total tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. He did not get drafted during the 2017 NFL Draft but would get his shot in the pros when the Tennessee Titans added the defensive lineman.

The Titans would waive him from their rookie camp only a couple of weeks later. He would go on to play in the XFL in 2020 with the Los Angeles Wildcats, where he played in all five games having 7 total tackles, 1 QB hit, and 1 tackle for a loss. He looks to start right where he left off in the XFL, adding that experience to the Vegas Vipers.

Round 11; Pick 81 – Linebacker – Jawuan Johnson (TCU)

Most of Jawuan Johnson’s college career was spent with Northern Illinois playing in 27 games or putting up 142 total tackles, 4 sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. When he transferred to TCU and joined the Big 12, he would have 72 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and a touchdown off one of them. He would go on to be an undrafted signing for the Seattle Seahawks but later be cut.

Round 4 – Offensive Line

Round 1; Pick 4 – Offensive Line – Antonio Garcia (Troy)

Antonio started his college career in 2013 as a red-shirted freshman; he would start in his first 6 games at left tackle before an injury cut the season short for him. He recorded 10.5 knockdown blocks out of 381 snaps in those 6 games. He would return the following season and play in all 12 games at left tackle again; he played 630 snaps on the year, which was the third most among offensive linemen. They had 35 knockdown blocks and allowed just 2.5 sacks.

His Junior and Senior year in 2015 and 2016 saw him play in all 24 games. He was named to the All-Sun Belt Team as an honorable mention selection and allowed just three sacks all season in over 780 snaps with 33 knockdown blocks during his junior year. In his Senior year, he did not allow a sack in over 900 offensive snaps to lead an offensive line in the fewest sacks allowed and was credited with over 70 knockdown blocks. The New England Patriots would draft him in the 3rd round, 85th overall in the 2017 NFL draft; he would leave camp early in August and not return. It was revealed in March 2018 that he had developed blood clots in his lungs, which made him unable to play.

He was released from the Patriots on May 11th, 2018; over the years, he would go from the practice squad to the practice squad from the Jets, Colts, and Dolphins and then be given a tryout with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. He would then 2021 sign with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL and then go on to sign with the Edmonton Elks in 2022.

Round 2; Pick 13 – Offensive Line – Ben Petrula (Boston College)

Ben Petrula played his entire college career at Boston College, where he was featured as an ESPN.com Freshman All-American candidate at the center; he played in 48 games. He would play Center and correct tackle throughout the four years. In his sophomore year, he was an All-ACC Honorable Mention, Junior year as an All-ACC Second Team; and in his Senior as an All-ACC Second Team and Preseason All-ACC, he started all 11 games of his senior season as correct tackle and helped lead Boston College to 1,119 rushing yards on the season.

Ben would go on to be signed as an undrafted free agent to the Cleveland Browns on April 30th of this year but would then be cut before the final cuts the Browns made before the season. Ben looks to bring his college history into the XFL and show the pro level of football what he can do on the Offensive Line with Bob Wylie as his OL coach. He has not missed a football game in all his college career, and we look forward to seeing what Ben can do to protect Perez and McClendon.

Round 3; Pick 20 – Offensive Line – Dohnovan West (Arizona St)

Dohnovan West played all his college career as a Center for Arizona State, the 6’4 ft, 300 lb Arizona Devil where he was named the starting Center his freshman season. West was named second-team All-Pac-12 Conference as a Junior. Following that 2021 season, he would forgo his senior season to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. While going unselected, the San Francisco 49ers would sign him as an undrafted free agent on May 2nd, 2022. He was waived on August 29th, before the start of the Niners season. It remains to be seen if West will be the man at center for the Viper’s quarterbacks, but he is a massive player that could assist at the center position for them.

Round 4; Pick 29 – Offensive Line – Jamil Demby (Maine)

Jamil Demby played in 42 total games for Maine as an offensive guard; during his senior year with Maine, he led the goal line to allow the fewest sacks in the CAA with 19. He was named the First-Team All-CAA, the All-New England Football Team, the FCS All-America First-Team, and the STATS FCS All-American second-team. He was drafted during the 2018 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams in the 6th round, 192nd overall but would be waived by the Rams right before the season started. Three days later, the Detroit Lions claimed him off waivers, but he was waived a week later and re-signed to their practice squad.

On December 12th, 2018, he would get a call from the Rams again, signing him off the Lions practice squad, and he would be back and fourth between the team’s practice squad and being activated during week 16 of the Rams season in 2020. In 2021 Demby would sign a futures contract with the Rams but be placed on the injured reserve list in August 2021. He was on Ram’s team when they won the Superbowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Jamil can stay healthy with the Vipers, he may bring some knowledge he learned with the Rams to the XFL.

Round 5; Pick 36 – Offensive Line – Clayton Bradley (UNLV)

Clayton Bradley is the only UNLV player that the hometown Vipers have drafted during the 2022 draft; Bradley is said to make an immediate impact on the team after being a Pac-12 vet who moved to Las Vegas as a transfer played as a left tackle. Before UNLV, he spent 5 years with USC and played 17 games. Bradley has no pro experience but will be looking to get a start at the pro level come February, and he stated he couldn’t wait to compete this season.

Round 6; Pick 45 – Offensive Line – Michael Miller (Washburn)

At Washburn, Miller started a total of 45 games over his four years switching between Left Guard, Right Tackle, and Left Tackle. He was a four-time all-MIAA selection earning three second-team honors. Michael Miller would end up playing in the 2020 XFL as a member of the St. Louis Battlehawks and in all 5 games, the Battlehawks played. Miller is hoping that, just like in 2020, his experience playing in the XFL can get him a shot in the NFL, which he never got.

Round 7; Pick 52 – Offensive Line – Quinterrius Eatmon (South Florida)

Quinterrius Eatmon comes to the Vipers with some Pro experience and after returning from the 2020 XFL season; in 2015 and 2018, Eatmon was part of the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers, both times being cut after the preseason with both teams. He would also play in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2017) and in the AAF with the Orlando Apollos (2019) before ending up in the XFL with the Seattle Dragons (2020). He would play in a total of 15 games between the AAF, CFL, and XFL. But before all the pro experience he has got, he was at South Florida playing 45 total games from 2011-2014; he mainly played right tackle or guard during this time and was named a second-team Freshman All-American by Yahoo! Sports and then his Senior year was named to the American Athletic Conference Second Team.

Round 8; Pick 61 – Offensive Line – Avery Young (Auburn)

Avery Young has been in Professional football for years; his career started at Auburn, where he was a three-year starter at both tackle and guard and was the starting correct tackle during his senior year. He would then be signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints but suffered a knee injury during Pro Day; he spent his entire rookie year on the Saint’s non-football injury list. He would then be released after the 2016 season from the Saints. For the next few years, he would bounce around from practice squads with the Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Seahawks coming on and off injury lists.

He would join the AAF in 2019 with the Birmingham Iron. After the AAF closed up shop, he would then be signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats but then, in October 2019, would be selected by the St. Louis Battlehawks in the open phase draft of the 2020 XFL Draft. A couple of months later, we would see the Battlehawks trade him to the New York Guardians, for whom he would end up playing until the league shut down. The last known football Avery played was for the Spring league, and he was selected to the Conquerors.

Round 9; Pick 68 – Offensive Line – Tony Adams (North Carolina St)

Tony Adams played for North Carolina State from 2014-2017; going into his senior year, he was the most experienced starter with 35 career starts and 2,472 career snaps. He played between Right Guard and Center, and as a Junior, he was named second-team All-ACC performer on the media and coaches’ teams. He was named to the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy. In 2018 the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Adams to a contract, but following the draft that April, they didn’t get the agreement due to a failed physical before signing. If Tony can stay healthy for the Vipers, he could quickly end up back on an NFL roster next season.

Round 10; Pick 77 – Offensive Line – Tre Johnson (Jackson St)

Tre Johnson played with multiple colleges throughout his career, starting with Miami from 2016-2017, Iowa Westen C.C. in 2018, 2019 Junior, and 2020 with Southern Miss and played in a total of 14 games; he may be one of the few on the Vegas Vipers roster with not much of a background in college and no pro experience. Could Tre surprise us all and show up ready to make a difference on the Vegas Vipers Offensive line?

Round 11; Pick 84 – Offensive Line – Fernando Frye (East Carolina)

With the last pick for the Vipers in the offensive line round of the XFL Draft comes Fernando Frye from East Carolina, where he started his football journey with Mercyhurst University spending two years with them but between the 2015-2016 seasons. He would then go to East Carolina as a walk-on transfer but spent his first year with the team as a scout team member. He eventually worked his way to the starting lineup during the 2018 season. He would then appear in all 12 games during the 2019 season, aiding ECU’s ground attack and paving the way for 3; 100-yard rushing performances.

He was granted a sixth year of eligibility following the NCAA’s approval of an extension waiver; he would play in 2021 for East Carolina and then enter the 2022 NFL Draft after finishing his final season at East Carolina but unfortunately would go undrafted. He would be invited to the 2023 XFL Draft; the rest is history at this point!

Round 5 – Speicalists

Round 1; Pick 4 – Punter – Michael Carrizosa (San Jose St)

Michael Carrizosa comes to the Vipers with quite an impressive college background and pro background; Michael spent his 4 years of college at San Jose State, playing in 48 games, punting 216 times for a total of 9,587 yards with an average of 44.4 yards per kick. He made 1 extra point out of 1 attempt, and only 2 Field Goal attempts but did not make either. He would sign with Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. But just as quick as he was signed, he would be waived the following month; Carrizosa is no stranger to spring football as the Michigan Panthers drafted him in the USFL 2022 draft in the 33-round pick number 6.

They would move on from him, not even a month into the season, leading us to the XFL draft, where he was selected with the Vegas Vipers. Vegas fans are hopeful he doesn’t need to kick a lot of punts into the 2023 season, but he could be a great draft pick if he can average 44-plus yards per kick as he did in college. During Nick Novak’s kicking showcase, in the video below, you can see the different things they were going through and what XFL coaches were looking at when selecting each specialist.

He averaged punting a 4.63 hang time, 45.8 distance, and 1.47 second Hand to Foot when kicking. When he was put to the test of kicking field goals, he was 4/4 from 35, 40, 45, and 50 yards. This is a significant reason I am sure that Vegas was ready to get Carrizosa.

Round 2; Pick 13 – Kicker- Bailey Giffen (Lamar)

Bailey Giffen’s time at Lamar as a kicker was from 2019-2021; he played in a total of 29 games where he had 86 punts for 3,481 yards, his longest being 63 yards and averaging 40.5 yards per kick. He kicked 108 kick-offs for 6,394 yards and then kicked 46 field goals making 34 of them, with his longest being 54 yards. He did not get drafted nor signed into the NFL but was one of the players who signed with the MLFB (Major League Football), which ultimately failed to get underway, but he has now been drafted into the XFL for the Vegas Vipers. During his time with Nick Novak’s showcase, you can see below the results.

He made 7 out of 8 field goals, from 33 (x2), 38, 44, 48, 51, and 54, for kickoff. Giffen hit all 4 at 100% within the 10-yard line with an average of 6.5 yards from the endzone. His average hang time was 4.2; this will be great for the XFL if they keep the kick-off rule they had in 2020, as he could pin some teams down close to the goal line. For punting section of the showcase, he hit all three at 59 yards, 36 yards, and 54 yards. He averaged 49.6 yards per punt, and his average hang time was 4.32. He will be a great addition to the Vipers and kicking during the 2023 season.

Round 3; Pick 20 – Long Snapper – Adam Higuera (Tulsa)

Adam Higuera played in 45 career games with Tulsa as a four-year starter who handled all his deep-snapping duties and was named the 2021 Pre-season All-America Fourth Team by Phil Magazine. He would not be drafted or signed onto any NFL team after the 2022 draft. He looks to enter the pro scene with the Vegas Vipers and already looking in prime shape after the Nick Novak showcase, which you can see in his performance below.

During the Field Goal portion of the long snapper showcase, he got 7/8 snaps, then hit 8/8 snaps for the Punt showcase, and then with the full cover, he was perfect. He will do great as he heads into the Vegas season to help make his kicker’s jobs a lot easier.

Round 6 – Open Phase

Round 1; Pick 5 – Tight End – Travis Koontz (Texas Tech)

Travis Koontz played three years in the Big 12 with Texas Tech from 2019-2021 as a Tight End, completing 45 receptions for 647 yards with 5 touchdowns. He would go undrafted back in April but be signed to a rookie contract with the Raiders soon after, but he wouldn’t be on the team long as he was waived on June 8th of this year. Travis didn’t sign with any other teams and is now headed to the XFL as a Viper.

Round 2; Pick 12 – Defensive Line – Jalen Pinkney (Northern Illinois)

Jalen Pinkney played for Northern Illinois during 2017, 2019, and 2021 seasons where he played a total of 9 total tackles. There isn’t much data for Jalen; with this being his first chance at pro football, it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the table for a hungry Vipers team.

Round 3; Pick 21 – Defensive Back- Marwin Evans (Utah St)

Marwin Evans comes to Vegas with a bit of pro experience between the NFL, XFL, and CFL; Marwin is bringing his talents back to the XFL and will be with the Vipers this time. Marwin played with Utah State between 2014-2015 and played in 20 games but played as a cornerback/safety. He had 83 tackles, 1 interception, 1 touchdown, and 2 forced fumbles. In 2016 he was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Green Bay Packers and would play in all 16 games of his rookie year, primarily on special teams, recording six tackles.

The Packers would release him on September 11th, 2018. He was signed to the practice squad of the Seahawks in 2019 but released later that year. That’s when he entered the 2020 XFL supplemental draft and was drafted by the Dallas Renegades. He was then waived during roster cuts and assigned to XFL’s team 9 (the practice squad for the XFL). He would resign with the Renegades on March 9th, right before the season ended.

The following year he signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers but was then placed on the suspended list on July 9th, 2021, and has not played since. Marwin Evans looks to bounce back into Pro Football and create a new era for it with the Vegas Vipers; this time around, as far as we know, there will be no team 9 for the XFL, and the NFL Alumni Academy will be more used for this.

Round 4; Pick 28 – Wide Receiver – Mustageem Williams (Tennessee)

Mustageem Williams might be the most interesting XFL Draft pick I can find, and that’s because he did not play football in college and was an Elite Sprinter; in June of this year, the Baltimore Ravens gave an elite sprinter a chance at a try out at wide receiver. The 26-year-old former track star from Tennessee was hoping to start his professional football career; the Ravens Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin heard about Williams and wanted to give him a tryout despite not playing football since high school. He was a standout SEC champion in the 60 meters with a personal best time of 6.61 seconds.

I don’t know about his receiving skills, but this kid has some SPEED to him based on this video; it doesn’t appear though the Ravens ever gave him a contract or ended up anywhere; this could be a unique experience for the Vegas Vipers and the XFL sort of like when the NFL has given former rugby players shots to play professional football. In some cases, it has worked. I will watch his name and story to see how this pans out.

Round 5; Pick 37 – Wide Receiver – Cinque Sweeting (Slippery Rock)

Before playing with Slippery Rock, Sweeting played three seasons with Seton Hill University and played in 22 games total; he ran for 913 yards and had 356 yards in receiving and returning kickoffs and punts during his time, along with scoring 5 touchdowns with Seton. From 2019-2021 he would transfer to Seton and play in 26 games, completing 113 receptions for 1,616 yards, 17 touchdowns, and then rushing for 308 yards from 48 attempts with 4 touchdowns. He also did kick and punt returns with 40 attempts during the kickoff for 794 yards and 1 touchdown and then 9 punt attempts for 79 yards.

He would not get drafted to the NFL but did have a workout for the Seahawks on August 5th but would not be signed. The Vipers, with this signing, will currently go into training camp with 6 total wide receivers with Cinque, and Luis Perez and Jalan McClendon will have quite a few options to throw to.

Round 6; Pick 44 – Linebacker – Cassanova Mckinzy (Auburn)

Cassanova Mckinzy was a 4-star recruit. He played three seasons with Auburn from 2012-2015. He would play in over 38 games as a linebacker and have 258 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and three forced fumbles with 1 fumble recovery. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would sign him as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft but then released by the team on August 22nd, 2016. Between 2017 and 2019, he would be on and off practice squads to being activated, only to be cut for the Rams and Redskins. He would then sign with the Calgary Stampeders on June 16th, 2021, and only play one game for Calgary but did not put any numbers.

Round 7; Pick 53 – Tight End – Nick Guggemos (St. Thomas)

Nick Guggemos has a limited college career due to injuries that ended in 2018; Guggemos is the son of former NFL Defensive back and kicks returner Neal Guggemos. Nick signed with the Seahawks on May 6th of 2021, but then June 7th was cut. He also spent time with Washington in 2021 but signed with the Cleveland Browns practice squad in December. He received a futures contract with the Browns on Jan 10th of this year. He would then be waived on May 24th, 2022, so he is looking to get his pro career underway with this XFL opportunity.

Round 8; Pick 60 – Linebacker – Luke Holloway (Idaho State)

Between 2015 and 2019, Luke Holloway played in 30 games with Idaho State, having 91tackles, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. The Saskatchewan Roughriders would sign him on April 20th, 2022; he would not play in any games in the CFL, which would lead to him being invited into the XFL Draft Pool. It’ll be interesting to see what Luke can bring to the Vipers and if he can keep forcing those fumbles and assisting his team with sacks.

Round 9; Pick 69 – Running Back – Rod Smith (Ohio State)

Rod Smith was a stand-out running back from Ohio State, where he played in 31 total games from 2011-2014, where he rushed for 549 yards from 107 attempts, 8 touchdowns, and had over 9 receptions for 94 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Seattle Seahawks signed Rod as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft; he would end up playing in just one game against the Bengals, rushing for 5 yards on 2 carries. He would be released on October 13th of that year. He was then signed off waivers by the Cowboys and would play 10 games for them, mainly on special teams and having one kickoff return for 26 yards. He would play with the Cowboys from 2015-2018 and then take some time with the Giants, Titans, Raiders, and Giants Panthers between 2019-2021. His NFL career saw 364 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 30 receptions for 272 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown.

When Rod enters the XFL and the Vegas Vipers, he will bring over 4 years of experience from The Ohio State, along with many years with the Cowboys and other NFL teams over his career; while Rod Smith is currently 30 years old, he will be joining 30-year-old Martavis Bryant as well on this Vipers roster to possibly look to close out their football career or maybe make one last run in the NFL.

Round 10; Pick 76 – Wide Receiver – Devion Clayton

Devion Clayton comes to the XFL as a wide receiver that did not attend college or play college ball; thee 6’3 ft, 193 lb will try to get a shot, unlike many of his fellow teammates in coming in too the XFL nearly 7 years after he graduated high school to play professional football for the Vegas Vipers. It will be interesting to seek between Devion and Mustagee; both have little to no football experience except in High School years and years ago and how they do given an opportunity like no other.

Round 11; Pick 85 – PASS

The 2023 XFL Draft has come to an end and the Vegas Vipers have got a start on their full roster, with the supplemental draft coming up soon we shall see if any changes happen. Now to get back to finding a home to play in, within Las Vegas!

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