Bob Stoops landed the best quarterback available in his former pupil Landry Jones. Jones was incredibly prolific at Oklahoma, with more yards (16,646) and touchdowns (121) than former first overall picks Baker Mayfield, Sam Bradford, and Kyler Murray. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Steelers and put up solid numbers in relief of an oft-injured Ben Roethlisberger.
The most proven QB in the XFL, he’s going into a fantastic situation with a former coach who knows his skillset and will scheme around his abilities. Landry Jones is your prototypical pocket passer at 6’4″ 225, and has plus arm strength and a quick release.
Behind him is Phillip Nelson, an athletic prospect from East Carolina. He did enough good things to find a roster spot with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and saw the field for the San Diego Fleet in the AAF, passing for 513 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INT’s.
They could use a 3rd QB here to round out the room, but it’s likely they’re waiting for the supplemental draft. CJ Collins out of SAGU has ties to Bob Stoops’ coaching staff and could be a good fit.
Running Back: A-
Cameron Artis – Payne had a fantastic senior year at Auburn, rushing for 1608 yards and 13 scores. This warranted him a 5th round pick by the Panthers, who deployed him behind Jonathan Stewart and eventually Christian McCaffrey. He contributed well at the pro level, with a 4.2 ypc and 5 scores. He’s got good size and speed, and figures to be the workhorse back here.
Lance Dunbar is cut out to be a great change of pace/3rd down option in Dallas. In 6 seasons with the Cowboys and Rams, he was a reliable target out of the backfield, with 69 receptions for 647 yards. He was primarily used in a passing role, but also maintained a 4.5 yards per carry on the ground and rushed for 2 scores. He had 4.4 speed coming out of college, and with limited mileage should have plenty left in his prime.
Dimitri Flowers, another former Sooner should contribute at Fullback. He’s more than just a blocker and displays both receiving and goal-line ability. In 2017 at Oklahoma, he had 486 yards and 5 TD’s through the air and 4 rushing TDs in the red zone.
Wide Receivers: B
Another Sooner headlines this group, as Jeff Badet looks to be Bob Stoops’ favorite. Badet was taken with Dallas’ first pick in the draft, and the 25-year-old has all the tools to become one of the preeminent deep threats in this league. At six-foot, he’s got good enough length, but his staggering 4.27 40 time should scare defenses. I’m sure Stoops is already scheming up ways to get him into space.
Badet offers value as a returner as well, but I figure that job will be left to their second overall pick, Tommylee Lewis. The 5’7″ 168 pounder is built like a return specialist, and his low center and quick feet give him great change of direction ability. He scored on 4 returns in college, including 100,99, and 93 yard touchdowns. He offers value as a slot reciver and a deep threat up the seam and caught 2 TD’s from Drew Brees in his time with the Saints.
Ryan Broyles, former Oklahoma Sooner has NFL experience and is also familiar playing with Landry Jones under Bob Stoops. He had a productive career in college, with 349 receptions and 45 scores, and was a 2nd round pick by the Lions. He was their offensive rookie of the year, and scored twice before injury and circumstance ended his time in the NFL. Having fought for snaps with Calvin Johnson Jr, Golden Tate, and Nate Burleson, he brings a ton of experience and leadership to the Sooners.
There’s potential on the edges of this group as well, most notably from NFL vet WR/KR Keith Mumphrey and Steven Dunbar.
Tight Ends: B-
I like Donald Parham as a vertical threat. A 6’8″ 240 pound prospect out of Stetson, he had outstanding production in college. His senior year alone he made 85 catches for 2591 yards and 13 TD’s. With 4.6 speed, he’s not a burner, but should be a matchup nightmare for defenses. He’ll be primarily used as a target unless he works on his blocking technique and leverage.
Romello Booker and Sean Price offer more standard TE frames, and should be able to contribute in the passing game as well as blocking.
Offensive Line: B-
The Renegades have some options to work with at the OT position, as Willie Beavers, Adam Bisnowaty and Pace Murphy all have NFL experience. Beavers (a former Vikings 4th rounder) was the Renegade’s first O-Line pick. He displayed quickness and fluidity in protection in college and has the bulk (6’5″ 322) to move bodies in the run game. He started 40 straight games at LT in college.
Bisnowaty could very well come away with a starting job and has 4 years of experience starting at LT for Pittsburgh in college. He has a good frame at 6’6″ 310 and plays mean. With a good push in the run game, he could thrive as a starter on the Right side.
Pace Murphy has the physical traits, with good agility and strength, but needed some work on his technique out of college. Coaches with the LA Rams saw enough in him to give him some playing time, and he could compete for a starting spot, or the swing position vs Darius James out of Auburn.
Josh Allen (not that one) is a 27 year old guard who’s spent time with the Buccaneers, Packers, 49ers and Cardinals. He had some playing time in the regular season for Tampa Bay and will bring some pro experience to one of the guard spots.
Marquise Shakir was the first Guard taken by the Renegades, and 26 year old spent a year on the Ravens roster. He should compete for one of the two spots with Allen.
Alex Balducci is Dallas’ Center. He played well at Nose Tackle for 4 years in Oregon, but Chip Kelly moved him to Center (where he played in high school) with the 49ers. He has plus athleticism and makes good push on the interior.
Front Seven: A-
The Renegades have some quality options at Edge Rusher. Hau’oli Kikaha is my favorite here, and the 27 year old former 2nd round pick racked up 8 sacks and 4 forced fumbles with the Saints. When in a starting role in college, he was even more productive than that, with 35.5 sacks and 51 tackles for loss at Washington. He’s in his prime and proven as a pass rusher. I think he’ll do big things here.
Jonathan Massaquoi, a 31 year old NFL vet offers a lot of upside as a pass rusher on the other side. He had some productive seasons in Atlanta, 70 stops and 6 sacks, but didn’t make it past his rookie contract. After stops in Tennessee and Kansas City, he was out of football for a few years. He recently gained attention in the AAF with the Birmingham Iron, notching two sacks in the season opener. With the time he spent out of football, his body should play younger than 31.
On the line, Dallas picked up some good players as well. Sealver Silgia is a Super Bowl Champ, and played 7 years in the NFL. He’s a massive force at 6’2″ 344 and should lock down the middle of the line and eat up blocks. He’s not merely one dimensional either, and with 6.5 sacks on his resume has impressive pass rush moves for a big man.
Frank Alexander is another solid option at DL, and contributed 3.5 sacks as a reserve DE for the Panthers. The 29 year old has been out of football for a couple of years, but should be able to make an impact in the trenches.
Marquis Flowers headlines the Linebacking corps, and has experience with the Patriots program. During New England’s 2017 SB run, he played in all 16 games, picking up 32 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a pass deflection in a rotation. With more playing time, he’s bound to shine in the XFL.
Tegray Scales has yet to blossom in the pros but exhibited crazy playmaking skills at Indiana. Against Big 10 competion, was a tackling machine, and had 46 TFL, 17 sacks, and 8 interceptions. He’s a hybrid asset against the run, in coverage, and as a pass rusher, and could make a real name for himself in the XFL after practice squad stints with the Colts, Steelers and Rams.
Reshard Cliett has ~4.4-4.5 speed and could be a serious asset in coverage, and the 6’2″, 225 pounder is an ideal candidate to lock down the XFL’s faster TE’s and RB’s. He played at safety in college, and should get looks as a dime-backer.
Dallas took Derron Smith with their first pick in Phase 4, and he showcased a boatload of talent at Fresno State. At safety, he picked off 15 passes, scored twice and made 298 stops. He even was disruptive in the backfield, making 13 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. With solid athleticism, the ability to play high, in the box and in the slot, he’s a versatile and talented addition to the defense.
Curtis Drummond was a Ballhawk at Michigan State, pulling in 12 interceptions and defending 17 passes from 2011-2014. He has upside as a single-high FS, and at 6’1″ has ideal length.
Ronald Martin, LSU also has upside at safety, and with 5 picks and 14 pass deflections in the SEC, is proven against upper echelon talent in coverage.
Treston Decoud played Cornerback at Oregon State, and held his own against Pac-12 competition. He had 2 picks and 10 pass deflections his senior year. He’s a physical player in press coverage and uses his 6’2″ frame well.
CJ Smith was highly disruptive for North Dakota State as a CB and had 8 pick and 57 deflections in his time with the Bison. Dallas could put those ball skills to use.
John Franklin III, one of the stars of Last Chance U, switched to DB with the Bears after playing as a QB/WR in college. He has sub 4.4 speed, and is a good all-around football player. Could be something special in the making.
At Kicker, the Renegades have Austin MacGinnis, who recently went 9 of 11 with a long of 51 in the AAF. He showed well in the spring, and built on a 79.7 FG% he had at Kentucky.
Drew Galitz was solid in 4 years at Baylor, posting a 42.1 average. As a Junior, he averaged 45.2/punt and the Defenders would be lucky if he can get into that range.
Colin Holba did enough as a Long Snapper at Louisville to warrant a 6th round pick by the Steelers in 2017, and has played in 11 NFL games.
Overall Grade: A-
The Renegades have put together a really solid roster here, top to bottom. I think Landry Jones will be one of the XFL’s best passers for years to come, and Stoops has a plan for all those Sooners he drafted on offense. They have a really nice one-two punch in Artis-Payne and Dunbar, and the receiving corps led by Oklahoma players are familiar with Stoops’ system. They also have a great red zone target in Donald Parham. It’s really hard to gauge O-Line cohesiveness for any team at this point in the offseason, but they have the talent to work with.
Their defense has great, proven pass rushers and good players in the middle against the run. The more I look at their front seven, the more I like it and they have playmakers all over the field. Safety is a major strength here, and there are options at CB. I’d like to have seen a little more proven talent on the perimeters, but the collection of ballhawks they’ve assembled is seriously impressive.
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