BY Ron Johnson
There were those who figured that the XFL’s third attempt at making something out of nothing would be a wash just like the first time. But let’s be real people: the second go-around was not their fault. Blame COVID. But this third round provided a little more than a few flukes as proven by the track record of signings.
The XFL Opportunity
The XFL gave these players an opportunity to prove that they are better than the ‘54’ moniker that hung around their necks prior to opening weekend. For those who are unfamiliar with football lingo, the moniker ‘54’ represents a football term meaning they are the odd man out of the official 53-man roster in the NFL. This past season, we saw a new crop of talent showed that they have indeed the right stuff.
To say the least, the NFL was paying attention.
Sal Cannella, TE: Seattle Seahawks
Garrett McGhin, OL: Buffalo Bills
Tomasi Laulife, DL: San Francisco 49ers
Victor Bolden, WR: Houston Texans
Bruce Hector, DL: New York Jets
Darren Evans, DB: New York Giants
Willie Taylor, LB: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Renegades were the team that all of us were irate with during championship week in the XFL. This was only because of their record and the fact that St. Louis was the odd team out when the regular season ended. But the Renegades shocked the world as they handed the DC Defenders their second loss of the year, which turned out to be a costly one as it was in the XFL Championship Game. No matter the circumstances, Bob Stoops knows talent, and thanks to his tutelage, many of the championship team will be playing their hearts out in the NFL in just a few weeks.
Josh Hammond, WR: Denver Broncos
Jordan Ta’amu, QB: Minnesota Vikings
Abram Smith, RB: Minnesota Vikings
Liam Ryan, OL: Seattle Seahawks
Chris Blair, WR: Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Smith, WR: Arizona Cardinals
Lucky Jackson, WR: Minnesota Vikings
Ferrod Gardner, LB: Washington Commanders
Daniel Whelan, PT: Green Bay Packers
The Defenders should not be upset that they lost the XFL Championship. In fact, they should give praise to its team for giving all of us a ton of fun from their fanbase that rivals Bills Mafia. Instead of tables, the Defenders provided the infamous Beer Snake. They also provided Washington, DC with some good vibes as prior to the start of their preseason, the Commanders were in dire straits.
The Vikings took opportunity to a completely different level as they practically signed as many players as possible from DC. With the addition of Abrams, Ta’amu and Jackson, the Vikings are making a power play to rectify the sad ending to last year’s playoff run.
Alex Mollette, OL: Detroit Lions
Chuck Wiley, DL: Cleveland Browns
Michael Bandy, WR: Denver Broncos
Jack Snyder, OL: Minnesota Vikings
Jack Heflin, DL: New Orleans Saints
C.J. Brewer, DL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Roughnecks were so close to the XFL Championship, yet they could not muster much against the Renegades. When the smoke cleared, they were defeated as much as dejected at the outcome. The good news for them though is that they were able to find the will and drive to honor their commitment to the players that gave their all to get them there. With several teams looking to beef up their offensive and defensive lines, one should not be surprised that a majority of the players signed from Houston were part of their impressive lines.
Bandy showed strides during his time with Houston, and this is probably why he was the only Roughnecks player not on the lines (for now) to get a deal in the NFL. The Broncos need help in the wide receiver capacity, and Jerry Jeudy is NOT going to complain about having to get all the work done.
Caeveon Patton, DL: Atlanta Falcons
Charleston Rambo, WR: Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Thomas, TE: Carolina Panthers
Despite not finishing the way they wanted, the Guardians did enough to get some names in the NFL. While Patton will look to right the defensive ship in Hotlanta, and Thomas looking to resurrect those Greg Olsen vibes in Carolina, all eyes will be on Rambo. The kid has mad skills that prove that he is a threat in the deep and the mid. Being a member of The U also helps as they have a reputation for providing top notch receivers. In a place like Philly, this is going to be a fun time to keep an eye on Rambo as Jalen Hurts will enjoy the time and AJ Brown will enjoy the backup.
San Antonio Brahmas
Matthew Gotel, DL: Atlanta Falcons/Seattle Seahawks
Delontae Scott, DL: Atlanta Falcons
Jacques Patrick, RB: Denver Broncos/Tennessee Titans
Derrick Kelly, OL: Cleveland Browns
Reid Sinnett, QB: Cincinnati Bengals
Rex Sunahara, LS: Pittsburgh Steelers
Kobe Smith, DL: New York Giants
Alize Mack, TE: Tennessee Titans
Luq Barcoo, CB: Tennessee Titans
John Parker Romo, K: Detroit Lions
Despite not doing enough to secure a spot in the XFL Championship in their backyard, Hines Ward got the Brahmas playing like champions weekly. Even though their record did not reflect it, this team had a lot of heart. Their defense was dangerous, which is why most of the talent signed to the NFL is on the defensive side of the ball. Patrick’s arrival to the XFL turned plenty of heads as he was one of two players (Gotel) on this squad to get signed twice. Expect Patrick to arrive on Sundays ready to unleash his own brand of madness, and do not be surprised if you see this Romo kicking the Lions into a potential Wild Card Game.
Seattle Sea Dragons
Juwan Green, WR: Kansas City Chiefs
Michal Menet, OL: Atlanta Falcons
Antwuan Jackson, DL: Carolina Panthers
Niko Lalos, LB: New Orleans Saints
Barry Wesley, T: Atlanta Falcons
Ben DiNucci, QB: Denver Broncos
Austin Faoliu, DE: Seattle Seahawks
Bryce Thompson, S: Miami Dolphins
The Dragons turned nothing into something as they took down the best of the best last season. They are the reason the Defenders lost their first game. They are the reason why the Battlehawks were not in the playoffs. And they are the reason that most of these players are back in the NFL. Former Dallas Cowboy DiNucci showed that he can be a dangerous threat through the air and on the ground.
He took advantage of the chance to shine in bunches in front of a loyal Seahawks fanbase. But to be real on this one: The fact that Josh Gordon has not been welcomed back to the NFL with open arms is a slap in the face. Pretty sure that he proved his value in bunches this past season with the Dragons. And honestly, every NFL team (mine included) needs someone as clutch as Gordon.
St. Louis Battlehawks
Elijah Hamilton, DB: Green Bay Packers
Carson Wells, LB: New England Patriots
Lavert Hill, DB: Pittsburgh Steelers
Nate Meadors, DB: Cleveland Browns
Mike Rose, LB: Miami Dolphins
Kevin Atkins, OL: New York Giants
Marcell Ateman, WR: Buffalo Bills
Darrius Shepherd, WR: Los Angeles Chargers
Hakeem Butler, WR: Pittsburgh Steelers
Jaryd Jones-Smith, T: Washington Commanders
Gary Jennings, WR: Carolina Panthers
LaCale London, DL: Atlanta Falcons
Lukas Denis, S: Atlanta Falcons
The Battlehawks made a lot of noise this season. They hold attendance records that will surely be shattered next season. And barring any major catastrophes, St. Louis should be one of the frontrunners for the XFL Championship next season. In the meantime, get ready for Sundays this fall in which some of the favorites will be making appearances. Ateman, Shepherd and Butler are all ready to light it up in the AFC, and Jennings will surely make some headaches in Carolina when he and Bryce Young get closer acquainted. But there are teams that have embraced the mantra of ‘Defense Wins Championships,’ which is why a bunch of the Battlehawk Defense finds itself in the NFL next season.
Pita Taumoepenu, OLB: New York Jets
Matthew Sexton, WR: Atlanta Falcons
John Lovett, RB: Pittsburgh Steelers
Brandon Dillion, TE: Washington Commanders
Rod Woodson may be out as coach of the Vipers, but that was by choice. The Vipers still had some players make enough of a splash to get into the NFL, and that was his main goal. The trio of Sexton, Lovett and Dillon did their best on offense, and not they will show fans why the XFL is not just a one trick pony. As for Pita, you will not find anyone that has the speed of Micah, agility of Polamalu and the strength of Romo that will fly around any and every chance he gets on that field. Being with the Jets should be a great chance to shine bright for him.