The Battlehawks have officially wrapped up their first mini-camp, and St. Louis fans should have a lot to look forward to this year. This offseason has provided a short turnaround period for players to get acclimated, but from all accounts, the Battlehawks have begun to gel.
The guys in STL’s QB room are getting on well, and they have a great mix of youth, potential, and experience. When breaking down each of his passers at XFL.com, coach Jonathan Hayes had this to say.
Jordan Ta’amu: “With Jordan, talent-wise, arm-wise he has a ton of that. We just have to slow him down a little bit, get him to go through his progressions.”
Ta’amu had a great senior year at Ole Miss, tossing for 3,918 yards and 18 TD’s. His yardage totals were 2nd best in the SEC behind Tua Tagovailoa in 2018, and he has a great arm with plus athleticism. With good tools to work with, he just needs a little more experience and time, as he only started 19 times in D-I action. I think he has the potential to develop into a starter, but at just 22 years old, he has plenty of time to grow.
Taylor Heinicke: “He’s the professional. He’s been through it, he understands it. He’s great for the room and showing those guys how to be a pro and he goes out there and he executes.”
I’m heigh on Heinicke. Not just because of his NFL experience (7 games, 1 start), but because of his tools and football IQ. He has great mobility in the pocket, can extend plays on the run and possesses great accuracy. He knows where to go with the ball, and when he’s on fire, he’s unstoppable. He still holds the Division I record for most passing yards in a game, after a 730 yard, 5 TD performance in 2012. If the coaching staff wants Ta’amu to sit and learn for a bit, Heinicke is an excellent option to start.
Brogan Roback: “Brogan is a very high-spirited guy, he plays off his emotions. It’s good sometimes, but other times you have to reel him back.”
Roback is a fiery but raw passer who offers as much upside as any QB3 in the league. He’s spent time with the Browns and Steelers and is fitting in well with the other guys.
Christine Michael and Matt Jones look awesome, as we all knew they would. They form a fantastic 1 – 2 punch, as Michael is a balanced back, with over 1000 yards in the NFL, while Jones is a bruising runner who also offers some value as a pass-catcher. I hope they find ways to get them on the field together in 2 back sets because this is easily the best running back stable in the league.
In the WR room, recent addition Terrence Williams is already making plays, proving the talent that saw him catch 232 balls for 3,377 yards and 20 TDs as the Dallas Cowboys Z-Receiver behind Dez Bryant. At 30 years old, he’s shown in camp that he’s got plenty left in the tank, and having a dependable veteran target like him will help whatever QB starts games. L’Damian Washington has also been making a name for himself thus far, and the 28-year-old has been grinding for years to get his chance to shine.
Jonathan Hayes cut his teeth as a Tight Ends coach, and he’s got some quality clay to mold here. Marcus Lucas is an NFL camp veteran who’s been on 11 teams and converted to TE in the XFL. With his route running chops and 6’4″, 250-pound frame he could be a force up the seam, and Connor Davis has been refining his blocking technique. They could form a great duo if the offense runs single back formations.
Trey Brown specifically mentioned the O-Line when talking to reporters, saying that “They travel together, they come in and out of the facility together. They’re showing some great things with how they’re bonding, Matt McCants, Brian Folkerts, those veteran guys are really helping to bring up the younger guys like Dejon Allen and Jake Campos. Those guys are getting to see those veteran players lead the charge and they’re right along with them”
Casey Sayles has been a disruptive force on the line, and even though it’s still non-contact practices, he’s showing his explosiveness on the line. Veteran DL Will Clarke has also been showing out, flashing the moves that got him 7 sacks in the NFL.
The LB group is exciting and is headlined by NFL Vet Terence Garvin. Garvin has been a productive rotation player for years and is just 28 years old. He most recently balled out in the AAF with the Apollos and is impressing thus far in camp. He’s exhibited a deep understanding of the game, and will probably receive one of the defenses two in-helmet headsets to help call plays. Nicholas Grigsby has also been showing off his athleticism and has great sideline to sideline speed.
There are already standouts in the secondary, as budding XFL star Kenny Robinson is locking down one of the Safety spots. CB Trovon Reed is an experienced pro player who’s logged 3 pass breakups and 2 picks in the NFL and is just 28. He’s helping coach up a young secondary with high upside.
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