Here is the full list of Group 5 players announced for the XFL Draft. Here is a break down of some of the notable names.
Kony Ealy: DE-Mizzou
Panthers and Broncos fans alike will remember Kony Ealy‘s valiant performance in the face of defeat. He had a historic day, with 3 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. He’s the only player in Super Bowl history with multiple sacks and a pick.
His 3 sacks were not only good enough to outpace Super Bowl MVP Von Miller’s 2 takedowns, but are tied for a Super Bowl record with Hall of Famer and 13x All Pro Reggie White, as well as Darnell Dockett and Grady Jarrett.
Ealy however, lost playing time and favor with the Panthers brass and was traded to New England, where he never saw the field. Brief stints with the Jets, Cowboys and Raiders did little to reignite his career, and in 2019, he found himself without a team.
However, at just 27 years old, with 15 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and a few Super Bowl records to boot, he’s as hungry as ever.
Christine Michael: RB-Texas A&M
Another Super Bowl Champ makes an appearance here, and Christine Michael has proven effective during his time in the pros. Though he’s spent his years behind guys like Marshawn Lynch and Ezekiel Elliot, he’s put up good numbers.
He has 1,080 yards at 4.3 ypc to go with 7 TD’s on the ground and 1 through the air. The former 2nd round pick is now 28 years old, but with limited touches should have plenty of life in his legs.
The XFL seems to be a popular destination for overlooked yet talented RB’s, and Christine Michael is another great weapon for coaches to put to use.
Clay Harbor: TE-Missouri State
Clay Harbor is perhaps the best, most established Tight End in the Draft. An athletic, versatile prospect, any coach would be lucky to have him. During 8 years in the NFL with the Eagles, Jaguars, Patriots, Lions and Saints, he’s hauled in 114 receptions for 1170 yards and 8 scores.
In addition to being a vertical receiving threat, he’s a capable blocker and fullback, making him an H-Back type hybrid player. With such a broad skillset, he’s been able to navigate the football world and contribute for years.
He’s 32, but considering how well players at his position do late into their 30s, age is not necessarily a concern here. Tony Gonzalez played until he was 37. Ben Watson is still in the league at 38. Even Jason Witten came out of retirement this year to play for Dallas at 37. It’s a position that ages well, and I expect Harbor to be a big factor this year.
Cyrus Kouandjio: OT-Alabama
We’ve seen a few good O-line prospects so far in the Draft Pool, but the former 2nd round pick from Bama is the most exciting I’ve seen. He was projected as one of the top players in the 2014 draft, and it’s not hard to see why the Buffalo Bills took him so early. A behemoth of a Tackle at 6’7″ 322, he spent most of his time in the league at RT, but started at LT in the SEC.
He has 30 games and 8 starts under his belt, but a hip injury derailed his time in Buffalo, and though he proved he was back up to speed with starting stint in Denver, he’s yet to catch on with another team.
Tackle is a premium position in football, and he should be highly valued as a 26 year old with experience, a good football pedigree, and prototypical measurables.
Arie Kouandjio: OG-Alabama
The Kouandjio brothers were a force to be reckoned with at Alabama. Arie, the elder brother took home All-Sec and All-American Honors in 2014 and was drafted in the 4th round by Washington. He played in 16 games there, making 8 starts.
At 6’5″ and 310 pounds with a 34 1/8″ wingspan, he’s got the size and length to possibly even transition to tackle, but LG is his natural position. With so many talented running backs, the league is going to need road-graders like Arie to pave the way.
With his experience, nasty demeanor on the field and size, he’s got all the tools to be that guy.
Victor Ochi: LB-Stony Brook
Victor Ochi had a fantastic college career playing NCAA Division I football at Stony Brook. He upped his sack totals every year with the team, finishing with 32.5 sacks, 50.5 tackles for a loss and 4 forced fumbles. He was an incredibly disruptive force there and remains their all-time sack leader.
Though he went undrafted in 2016, he signed on with the Ravens and notched two sacks in the preseason. He didn’t catch on there, and spent time with the Jets, Chiefs, and Titans, but as only gotten on the field long enough to make one tackle in the NFL.
At 6’1″, 242 lbs he might not have the prototypical length teams look for in edge rushers, but Elvis Dumervil was 5’11” and still made 105.5 sacks in his day. He’s been overlooked because of his perceived lack of size and speed, but the on-field motor and drive to the football speaks for itself.
I think he’ll come up in a big way this year.
Sleeper Pick: Noel Devine – RB – West Virginia
Noel Devine ran a 4.26 40 at West Virginia’s pro day in 2014. He’s electric. In 4 years of school, he had massive production, putting up 5,025 yards from scrimmage and 31 TD’s. He’s a threat as a returner, rusher and receiver, and excelled at all 3 in college. Coaches around the XFL would love to put those tools to use.
He’s taken an unconventional path to football, as an injury his Senior year prevented him from taking part in the 2011 Combine. Originally pegged as a 2nd day pick, he fell undrafted, likely due to his injury and smaller (5’8″ 185) frame.
He never gave up on his dream of football though, signing with the Eagles as a UDFA, then spent time in the UFL, CFL and Spring League. The XFL could finally be the stage for the 31-year old burner to make his mark. He’s a sleeper, but he’s got serious tools.
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These are some good players and there talents will not just be wasted due to not being on a NFL team.