Over four months left until the XFL 2023 season kicks off on Saturday, February 18th. And there are still several questions surrounding the revived league. Team names are on the horizon once the eye of the storm passes. And the league’s first batch of quarterbacks have begun their voyage into the XFL.
The team name announcements and the early quarterback reveals have arrived prematurely and not exactly as planned. One was an accidental leak on the XFL website spotted by fans. And the other, an unofficial nonchalant video tease. The former is not a hundred percent confirmed. However, the latter is much more transparent and more evident.
The First Batch Of XFL 2023 Quarterbacks
Let’s focus on the nine players who received the label “XFL QBs” by the league’s Director of quarterback development, Jordan Palmer.
Per his Instagram feed, Palmer released a video from his headquarters of him instructing nine different quarterbacks at his QB Summit headquarters. The renowned guru opened pandora’s box as followers of the XFL played the guessing game, trying to identify the signal-callers on his casting couch.
It didn’t take very long for the nine quarterbacks to be identified. Steven Montez, Bryan Scott, Jawon Pass, D’Eriq King, Ryan Willis, Jalan McClendon, Drew Plitt, Deondre Francois, and Brandon Silvers.
Beyond the actual names, here’s what we know so far. The quarterbacks in question have not signed contracts with the league. However, that appears to be a formality at this point. The players have received an early template of the standard player XFL contract. And they all know what team they will land with when the smoke clears.
Remember that NFL opportunities could arise between now and when players officially sign a legal document.
Sources have indicated that eight of these nine quarterbacks will be specifically assigned to specific teams who have requested and recruited these players to be a part of the league. Call it an unofficial silent draft if you choose. But the players have a good idea of what teams they will be playing for.
USF-Elephant In The Room
One of these nine quarterbacks is not like the other; Bryan Scott does not currently have a team designation. But like the other quarterbacks, he is getting an early jump on training with Jordan Palmer. A smart move on Scott’s part, considering the impressive list of quarterbacks, Palmer has helped reshape and mold into superstars. (Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, among many others).
Not to bury the lead here and ignore the elephant in the room. Bryan Scott played for the USFL last season and was leading the league in passing before he was injured. His contractual status with the USFL is unknown at the moment. Technically, Scott can work out with Palmer in his free time. Still, the fact that he’s working out with an XFL employee who is specifically on payroll training quarterbacks for that league suggests that the player has decided on a league switch.
Like the ten USFL assistants who officially jumped ship to the XFL, Scott bringing his talents to the XFL would be a powerful shot across the bow.
The XFL Will Likely Have 24 Quarterbacks
It’s worth noting that the XFL is still in negotiations and discussions with other free-agent QBs, who are sitting on the fence waiting for an NFL opportunity.
It’s also worth pointing out that the XFL will not only have an initial draft scheduled for November 16th and 17th. Of which, the early word is that it will take place in Las Vegas. But there will be a final draft in January for players with expiring contracts with other leagues. Players whose contracts expire in the NFL, who do not sign futures deals, and those who will see their USFL deals expire on 12/31. On top of that, there could be late arrivals of QBs who waited out the NFL year for an opportunity and didn’t receive one.
When the smoke clears this January for training camp in Texas, the XFL will likely have a minimum of 24 quarterbacks signed to league contracts. With each team carrying three or more QBs in camp. XFL teams will start out with 66 players before trimming down to 50 for the regular season. Forty-five on the active roster and five on the practice squad.
Perhaps teams won’t dress three quarterbacks on game day. Similar to NFL teams. But it would make sense to carry three on each roster.
XFL 2023 Tentative QB Assignments
With all of that out of the way, here’s where the nine quarterbacks spotted working with Jordan Palmer are headed, provided they are still available in the coming weeks.
Louisville/PVA&M QB: Jawon Pass (San Antonio)
Miami QB: D’Eriq King (DC)
Troy QB: Brandon Silvers (Houston)
Colorado QB: Steven Montez (Seattle)
Baylor/NC State QB: Jalan McClendon (Las Vegas)
Ball State QB: Drew Plitt (Arlington)
Virginia Tech QB: Ryan Willis (St. Louis)
FSU/Hampton QB: Deondre Francois (Orlando)
There are no guarantees that any of these players will be day one starters, and a lot can happen with player movement in the coming months. But getting in on the ground floor of XFL 3.0 certainly gives them a head start.
Jawon Pass has a unique story. The former 4-star recruit had the unenviable task of following in megastar Lamar Jackson’s footsteps at Louisville. Suffice it to say; Things didn’t go as planned for Pass with the Cardinals, and injuries and inconsistent play saw him transfer to Prairie View A & M.
Working with Jordan Palmer could certainly help refine Jawon Pass’s mechanics. And San Antonio could be an attractive landing spot. Playing for Hines Ward and offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo could aid the 6’4 240lb gunslinger’s pro-development.
Former Miami Hurricane D’Eriq King could be a fascinating weapon for Reggie Barlow and his offensive staff in DC. The 5’9 King defies convention as a prototypical passer, and it’s likely why he has been overlooked in the NFL and was initially treated as a weapon more than a passer in college.
King was a superstar high school player in Manvel, Texas, and he broke the Texas 6A passing touchdowns record set by another diminutive superstar Kyler Murray. Despite that, college universities recruited him with the idea of playing receiver instead.
D’Eriq King started as a WR/QB at the University of Houston before finally getting his shot to shine behind center. The dual-threat playmaker had 78 total touchdowns with the Cougars’. 4,925 passing yards, and 1,421 yards rushing, despite starting only 22 games. A knee injury derailed his ascent, and King wound up transferring to the U. He also played like a star before injuries halted his rise.
Brandon Silvers is a familiar name to fans of spring pro football. He started out in 2019 playing for the AAF with Memphis. He then played for the XFL in 2020 for Seattle. Before a stint with the Conquerors in 2021 with The Spring League. Silvers to Houston makes sense. He played in an Air-Raid offense in the AAF and has ties to Hal Humme disciple A.J. Smith. Silvers played for Houston’s OC in TSL, where he completed 68 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and only threw one interception.
Steven Montez has the physical tools to develop into a star signal-caller. The former Colorado standout and NFL quarterback is 6’5 235lbs with 4.6 speed in the 40. The 25-year-old has a lot of untapped potential. Aligning with June Jones in Seattle is an excellent landing spot for him to grow as a player. Jones has a great past and recent history of identifying and developing quarterbacks.
Of all the quarterbacks on this list, Montez may be the player who receives the quickest invite back to the NFL. He’s already spent time with two different NFL teams in his first two years as a pro quarterback. Playing time to grow is exactly what Steven Montez needs.
Former Baylor/NC State QB Jalan McClendon is no stranger to the XFL. He spent time with the Los Angeles Wildcats two years ago. Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas Director of Player Personnel Joey Clinkscales would look to bring him on board with his new team. After all, Clinkscales was the Wildcats’ defacto GM back in 2020.
McLendon has fallen under the radar in the last couple of years. The 6’4 signal-caller had early NFL interest coming out of school. But the strong-armed thrower has been searching for another opportunity for a while. The 6’4 McClendon has showcased his skills by participating in the acclaimed HUB football camps. Working with Jordan Palmer can help Jalan fine-tune his throwing mechanics.
Drew Plitt is a genuine pro football rookie. He completed the summer as an undrafted free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals. The second-team All-MAC QB from Ball State had an impressive short stint with Cincy in limited duty in the preseason. Plitt completed all six of his pass attempts for 76 yards and one touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals to register a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Plitt had fewer opportunities against the New York Giants in the Bengals’ second preseason game, completing one of his two attempts for 17 yards, but days later, the 6’2 206 Plitt was released by the Bengals on August 23rd.
Plitt has received a lot of comparisons to another slightly undersized QB named Drew. However, unlike Brees, there is still work to be done on his ball placement and touch. Notwithstanding that, Plitt’s play improved every year in college. He played in 46 career games for Ball State, completing 63 percent of his passes for over 9,000 yards, and scored 82 touchdowns, 14 on the ground. Playing for co-offensive coordinators Chuck Long and Jon Hayes can be a unique learning experience for Plitt in Arlington.
Virginia Tech QB Ryan Willis is no stranger to alternative pro football leagues. In fact, he parlayed his success in TSL as the league’s MVP in 2021 into a spot on the Chicago Bears roster. The 6’4 Wilis won a championship running Hal Mumme’s Air-Raid offense with the Linemen. It will be interesting to see him work with former NFL QB and current STL OC Bruce Gradkowski.
From one alt-league star to another in FSU/Hampton QB Deondre Francois. The former four-star recruit from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, has taken a unique path since those early days. The ACC offensive rookie of the year in 2016 at Florida State endured plenty of adversity after his breakout freshman campaign. Francois tore his patella tendon in his first game as a sophomore at FSU and missed the entire season. Deondre returned to his starting role in 2018, but an off-field domestic incident with his girlfriend got him booted out of the university.
The Orlando native Francois tried to stay in-state by walking on with Florida Atlantic, but the opportunity didn’t materialize. The 6’2 dual-threat playmaker Francois would finish his college career at Hampton. He completed his senior season throwing for 2,522 yards and scoring 30 total touchdowns. It wasn’t enough to get Francois a look in the NFL. Since then, he has starred in The Spring League and, more notably, with Fan Controlled Football. Being back home in Orlando, where it all started, could be a blessing in disguise for him.
“With Jordan’s leadership and expertise, we will help develop and empower the next generation of QBs.”– Russ Brandon, XFL President.
It remains to be seen who else the XFL adds at the Quarterback position in the near future. But the hiring of Jordan Palmer and recent comments by league president Russ Brandon about the hire tip off the league’s strategy regarding the position. The XFL is leaning towards diamonds in the rough types more than older established quarterbacks.
The level of its quarterback play will determine the quality of the XFL’s play in 2023. So we will see if the league’s strategy pays off.
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