The Alliance of American Football season ended prematurely with the league folding. That leaves the talent of the AAF to sign with NFL clubs earlier than anticipated. Yesterday, we took a look at players from the East and their best fits in the NFL. A few more names have signed since then, including Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert joining the Cleveland Browns and San Antonio Commanders safety Derron Smith signing in Minnesota. Today we’ll do the same thing with the West.
Before we begin, here’s a list of players who were on my original list who have since been signed:
San Antonio Safety Derron Smith – Minnesota Vikings
San Antonio Cornerback De’Vante Bausby – Denver Broncos
San Diego Fleet Defensive End Damontre Moore – San Francisco 49ers
San Antonio Commanders
Jayrone Elliott – Defensive End
First up from the Commanders is Jayrone Elliott. A familiar name to some NFL fans, Elliott has played for the Packers, Cowboys, and the Saints. Elliott did great work off the edge for the Commanders, leading the Alliance with 7.5 sacks in eight games. He also forced four fumbles and was a constant headache for offensive lines. At 27 years old, Elliott has lots of productive football ahead of him.
Best Fit – New Orleans Saints
The most recent NFL team Elliott played for makes the most sense for him to return to. The Saints have shown interest in Elliott before, signing him to a reserves contract last year. Sean Payton would be wise to bring Elliott back in to add rotational pass rush to the contending Saints. Elliott can help spell second-year Marcus Davenport and add another body on the edge.
Tim Cook – Halfback
The Arizona Hotshots had a pair of talented halfbacks in Tim Cook and Jhurell Pressley, with Pressley leading the AAF in rushing with 431 yards. Pressley will have to serve a two-game suspension if he signs with the NFL, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. That may scare teams off, but Cook would be a great addition to a backfield. Cook is only 24 years old and has impressed in NFL camps before, including last year with the Jaguars. His burst and fresh legs could add to a backfield rotation.
Best Fit – Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders have some unproven players in their backfield behind Isaiah Crowell. Cook could add a body for Jon Gruden to use in a revamped running game. The Raiders are in a rebuild state and are looking to infuse talent everywhere on the offense. Cook has proven to be a tough inside runner and could endear himself as a player in the mold of Marshawn Lynch.
Tim Cook TD x 2 for the @aafhotshots to help put this one away!
Arizona cruises to the 23-6 win on the road! #AZvsSA
— PFF_AAF (@PFF_AAF) April 1, 2019
Steven Johnson – Inside Linebacker
Arizona’s defense was driven by inside linebacker Steven Johnson. A familiar name to NFL fans, Johnson has played for the Broncos, Titans, Steelers, and Ravens in his career. Johnson tallied 34 tackles, three interceptions, and a forced fumble in only six games for the Hotshots. He was shown to be a vocal leader for the young team and displayed plenty of athleticism in coverage.
Best Fit – Los Angeles Rams
The L.A. Rams are in win-now mode. After making it to the Super Bowl last year, the Rams feel they have a shot to get back. Their linebacking unit was the weakest link on their defense, and Johnson could come in and shore it up. He’d provide special teams play and could spot-start at first for the Rams. With their window being now, the Rams wouldn’t be off-put by Johnson being a little older than most AAF players at 31.
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Salt Lake Stallions
Karter Schult – Defensive End
Former Northern Iowa sack artist Karter Schult was one of the breakout players of the Alliance. Schult notched seven sacks for the Stallions, showing he had a variety of ways to beat offensive linemen. He had 21 quarterback hits, second in the Alliance. Schult has bulked up since his NFL combine showing in 2017, playing at 6’2” and 260 pounds this season. He’s had shots in the NFL before with the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns, but after the effort, he had in the Alliance this could be the time he sticks on an NFL roster for good.
Best Fit – New York Jets
Even with the Jets in a good position to draft an elite edge rusher with the third overall pick, you can never have too many weapons to get to the quarterback. Adding Schult’s motor as a spot rusher to add to free agent Brandon Copeland and a high draft pick like Josh Allen could work out nicely. The Jets have struggled to rush the quarterback but were on the upswing in their sack total last year. They improved from 28th in 2017 to tied for 16th in 2018. Schult could help continue their ascension up the pass rushing ranks.
Karter Schult with 2 sacks in the 1st quarter for the Stallions!
— PFF_AAF (@PFF_AAF) February 16, 2019
Salesi Uhatafe – Guard
Salt Lake guard Salesi Uhatafe was one of many former Utah Utes to play for Salt Lake. Uhatafe played well as the starting left guard for the Stallions. The 6’5” Uhatafe is a big-bodied interior lineman who is a challenge to move once he sets his blocks. With some coaching to improve his hand placement and more reps to improve pass protection awareness, Uhatafe could become a contributor at the NFL level.
Best Fit – Baltimore Ravens
Uhatafe is a more natural run blocker than pass protector. With the Ravens transitioning to a more run-heavy offense with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, Uhatafe could be a contributor. Their only true backup guard on the roster currently is 2018 sixth-round pick, Bradley Bozeman. Bringing in the big Uhatafe and letting him compete for a position can only drive the competition up in Baltimore’s camp.
Greer Martini – LB – Baltimore Ravens
Arguably the best name to come from the Alliance belongs to Greer Martini. The former Notre Dame linebacker was rarely shaken on defense for the Stallions. He managed 32 tackles and made some explosive plays in coverage. Martini was in an NFL camp last year before he was cut by the Green Bay Packers. At only 23, Martini has shown the ability to be an impact player on defense and make plays against the run and the pass.
Best Fit – Baltimore Ravens.
Two straight Stallions being projected to the Ravens now. Baltimore, home of famed linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs in the past, has glaring holes on its depth chart at the position. Starting middle linebacker C.J. Mosley signed a big contract with the New York Jets, leaving Chris Board as the current middle linebacker for Baltimore. Martini coming in would add more depth to a position that has been gutted during the offseason.
Greer Martini picks John Wolford, aided by a Karter Schult hit pic.twitter.com/jZgOzs2NXE
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) February 23, 2019
De’Mornay Pierson-El – Wide Receiver
De’Mornay Pierson-El would make for an exciting addition to a receiving corps in the NFL. Pierson-El finished with the sixth highest receiving total in the Alliance with 414 yards. At 5’9” and 195 pounds, the former Nebraska Cornhusker did a great job extending plays. He ranked fifth in the Alliance with 169 yards after the catch. Pierson-El was also a talented punt returner in college, with three return touchdowns in his freshman season.
Best Fit – New Orleans Saints
As of now, the slot position in New Orleans is fairly wide open. While New Orleans may choose to get new weapons for quarterback Drew Brees in the draft, they would be wise to bring in a dynamic talent like Pierson-El. He could produce out of the slot and make the most of quick targets from Brees to pick up yards after the catch. A versatile special teamer as well, Pierson-El could find his spot on a roster down in New Orleans.