Vince McMahon is using his long bankroll, savvy for entertainment and business persona to bring back the XFL. It’s been 18 years since the XFL debuted and flopped all in one season. Running back Rod Smart, better known as “He Hate Me” was a fan favorite. Now, McMahon looks to find the stars to help the league stick around for the long haul. The XFL Draft kicked off on October 15, with several household names in the draft pool. The league’s eight teams participated in three phases of drafting, selecting skill players, offensive linemen and front seven. Here’s how the D.C. Defenders fared and their overall grade for Day One.
Skill Positions: B-
The XFL has implemented a special format for the draft to combat imbalanced rosters loaded with players at certain positions. A quarterback was assigned to each team, and the draft order changed for each round within a phase, balancing the playing field. The Defenders were assigned former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who spent time with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL. The charismatic quarterback has plenty of league experience and a clean slate in a new league. However, the Defenders upped their quarterback group by selecting former fellow Buffalo Bill Tyree Jackson. The 6’7 former University of Buffalo slinger shows similar strong points and flows to current Bills quarterback Josh Allen. While Jackson is a little raw, he has a higher ceiling than Jones, and can certainly develop his game in this league.
The Defenders selected former James Madison wideout Rashard Davis first of all, which was a bit of a reach. The speedy receiver spent time on the Kansas City Chiefs roster this year before his release. While Davis can serves as a deep threat with special teams experience, the pick seemed rather high.
In terms of hometown talent, the Defenders did well, selecting wideout Tre McBride from William & Mary in nearby Virginia, and tight end Khari Lee formerly of Bowie State. They will look to run double-tight personnel with nasty former Cleveland Browns fullback/tight end Orson Charles. The backfield of Jhurell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey is promising. The Defenders will be hoping the wideout Max Mccaffrey can provide half the spark that his brother Christian is currently giving the Carolina Panthers in the NFL.
Offensive Line: A-
As is the case with the NFL, most offenses can’t truly go without at least a decent offensive line. The Defenders did a good job with selecting linemen that have potential and experience, as well as versatility at multiple positions. Former Kentucky center Jon Toth will snap and get ugly in the trenches, with former Ohio State guard Chase Farris and former USC guard Chris Brown. The Defenders landed a few tackles with potential in former UTEP lineman Logan Tulley-Tillman and Casey Tucker formerly of Arizona State and Stanford.
Front Seven: B+
The Defenders look to develop an identity, and that will fall on defensive coordinator Jeff Fitzgerald. With over 30 years of experience as a linebacker coach at high levels, the picks of linebackers Scooby Wright and Johnathan Celestin are underwhelming.Both struggled severely in the NFL, especially in coverage. Yet, he made up for it by selecting linebacker Jameer
Thurman, who dominated in the CFL. The Defenders also did well with selecting pass rushers. Former Georgia Tech defensive end KeShun Freeman shined last year in the AAF. Defensive end Tracy Sprinkle and tackle Elijah Qualls will help rush the quarterback.