Category Archive a1

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Analysis, prospect profiles, remaining needs for all eight teams

Now that the 2023 XFL Draft is complete (festivities began with quarterbacks being taken), let’s hand out some grades and take a look at a few of the prospects you may not be familiar with, but will definitely need to change before the season kicks off on February 18th, 2023.

Also let’s spin things forward and take a look at some potential areas they can address in the upcoming Supplemental Draft in January, which will take place right before teams report for Training Camp.

Arlington Renegades
Grade: B

Supplemental Draft Focus: Tight End & Pass Rusher

WR Lujuan Winningham

College: Central Arkansas
Height: 6’3
Weight: 189
Draft Class: 2022
Winningham has a good, raw set of tools to work with as a player. He’s long, athletic, with a good vertical leap and acceleration. When he gets a clean release off the line of scrimmage, he can really accelerate past coverage, stacking the defensive back in the process. He’s got the short memory you look for in a prospect, able to overcome rough patches within a game, only to come through later in a big way.

OL Keenan Forbes

College: Florida A&M
Height: 6’3
Weight: 330
Draft Class: 2022
Forbes is naturally strong and has some good knock-back power. When he’s able to roll his hips into a defender, they hit the turf. He does show that he has the capability to be out on the move and when he has a clear lane, he’s able to get there and execute the block. Also, his hand fighting is good to where he can reset his hands, hold a block long enough to create a lane or stop a pressure.

DL Josiah Coatney

College: Ole Miss
Height: 6’4
Weight: 309
Draft Class: 2020
Coatney has both an excellent use of hands and length. He gets a really good punch upon the snap, extends out and is able to see everything going on in the backfield. I think he plays a fundamentally sound game. The former Ole Miss Rebels stud has good quickness off the ball, but is able to win mostly with both technique and length, while also being able to pursue the ball rather well. I like that he shows potential versatility as a 5-Tech.

CB Abu Daramy-Swaray

College: Colgate
Height: 5’9
Weight: 178
Draft Class: 2020
Daramy-Swaray instantly upgrades the special teams units, as he was an excellent punt returner at Colgate, where he also ran 10.9 in the 100-meters there. He shows excellent patience in zone coverage, with the ability to click-and-close really well. With the top-notch ball skills that he possesses and excellent hand/eye coordination, he’s able to either make the interception or play through the receiver’s hands for the pass breakup. The 5’9 178-pound corner isn’t afraid to come up in run support and is actually a really good open field tackler.

D.C. Defenders
Grade: A+

Supplemental Draft Focus: Quarterback

RB Pooka Williams Jr.

College: Kansas
Height: 5’10
Weight: 175
Draft Class: 2021
Williams has outstanding elusiveness, doing a great job in both the set-up and execution of making a defender miss. He’s got very good patience to the hole, with even better acceleration through it. I’m a big fan of how comfortable he is in running routes downfield, which could open the door for him as a slot receiver if he chose to focus on that. And despite his 175-pound frame, he isn’t afraid of contact. In fact, he does some of his best work running in-between the tackles. What truly makes him special is his A+ vision, showing the ability to operate two or three frames ahead of the defender.

WR Jequez Ezzard

College: Sam Houston
Height: 5’9
Weight: 191
Draft Class: 2022
A tremendous playmaker with the ball in his hands. An excellent broken field runner who is looking to score the ball every time. Ezzard is a core special teamer from day one who will boost your return game, both kickoff and punt return, while also having elite ability in the WR run game as well. He’s got great hands and despite his 5’9 frame, will go up top to challenge, and in most cases, win a 50/50 ball opportunity. He’s a well put together prospect who turns into a RB after the catch, possessing the elusiveness you want and a great sense of timing, knowing when to make the play.

OG Liam Fornadel

College: James Madison
Height: 6’4
Weight: 308
Draft Class: 2022
Fornadel shows good agility and quickness when edge rushers try to run the hoop against him. He’s able to shuffle with them and promptly escort them out of the club. He’s got a really good pop upon contact, especially when asked to block down in the run game. I like that he’s able to deliver the blow and also use his hands to ‘play the piano’ to pass guys off to the next offensive lineman.

LB Andre Mintze

College: Vanderbilt
Height: 6’3
Weight: 247
Draft Class: 2021
Mintze has underrated quickness and footwork for a guy who primarily played with his hand in the dirt. You can see him as either an edge rusher, or as a SAM backer. He’s got some pass rushing potential upside, which he could definitely blossom into as a pro. His hand usage when he’s in close contact is impressive. Right out of the gate, he’s a core special teamer that could find a role early in a sub-package player, as a pure rush end.

DB Julius Faulk

College: Delta State
Height: 6’0
Weight: 211
Draft Class: 2022
A well accomplished player at Delta State, Faulk brings both size and physicality to the position. He has an extremely high football I.Q., studies the game and schemes like a coach, and is absolutely infatuated with every aspect of football. He can play corner or safety, does a great job in press coverage at the line of scrimmage and has a pretty effective long-arm stab that is consistently able to stymie a wide receiver. Faulk is a good open field tackler, who also had superior ball skills to turn the ball over, while also using his length to close passing windows.

Houston Roughnecks
Grade: A

Supplemental Draft Focus: Tight End

FB-TE Garrett Owens

College: Duquesne
Height: 6’3
Weight: 215
Draft Class: 2022
Remember the former Dolphins player Jim Jensen? That’s who Garrett Owens reminds me of. He was a highly productive player at D2 Merrimack before transferring to Duquesne last season. He was primarily a tailback at both places, consistently producing when asked to carry the ball. I like his ability in pass pro, as he’s able to fit up the blitz really well, showing both the leverage and technical skills to hold up in that capacity. He’s a physical runner who tends to move the pile consistently, and works well in short yardage/goal line situations.

OL Sam Cooper

College: Merrimack
Height: 6’1
Weight: 315
Draft Class: 2021
Cooper has very good contact power and matches up well in that regard coming from an FCS program. I was able to see that up close and personal at the 2021 Tropical Bowl. In the run game his hands are consistently tight inside and he’s able to get movement rather frequently. He’s got some good initial quickness off the ball, and could even transition into a quality Center or Guard at the professional level.

SS-LB Tavante Beckett

College: Marshall
Height: 5’10
Weight: 214
Draft Class: 2021
Beckett played linebacker at Marshall, but also projects to be a strong safety at the professional level. He’s an instinctual player at the second level of a defense and is fantastic around the line of scrimmage, making a ton of plays versus the run, as well as pressuring the QB. He’s a very good blitzer, showing the good agility necessary to make the position transition as a pro. He’s got that dart-and-dash ability that makes him a problem for an opposing offense. I like that he shows the closing speed in the alley, to the runner in the hol or when he’s closing in on a low crosser in zone coverage.

DB Brandon Easterling

College: Dayton
Height: 5’11
Weight: 205
Draft Class: 2022
Easterling was a ball magnet at Dayton, finding the football a total of nine times in his career, six of which came in 2019. He’s able to hold his own as a split field safety, single high or as an alley player. He gives you good flexibility on the backend and the versatility to be equally as strong versus the run, as he is in pass coverage. He’s such an underrated player and will be an immediate impact guy both on special teams and within the regular defense.

Orlando Guardians
Grade: B

Supplemental Draft Focus: Running Back

WR Dieuly Aristilde Jr.

College: Bethel (TN)
Height: 6’3
Weight: 220
Draft Class: 2022
For a big bodied wideout, Aristilde runs polished routes. He does a great job of attacking the leverage of a defensive back and doesn’t waste time getting in-and-out of his breaks, showing the ability to work himself open versus man and/or zone coverage. He’s got a strong set of hands and a large catch radius. I was amazed in watching him back at the College Gridiron Showcase, that despite him being a big receiver already, he is able to play even bigger than his listed size. Expect him to be a significant red zone threat as a pro.

OL Jordan Ighofose

College: Grambling State
Height: 6’3
Weight: 330
Draft Class: 2022
In close contact, he’s a mauler who can match physicality with Power 5 guys and not blink an eye. When working in tandem with either the Center or the Tackle, he does a really good job working off double teams. I think he would be ideally suited in a gap/power scheme. What really jumps out at you on film with Ighofose is that he’s always looking for work in pass pro and brings a good pop upon contact as well.

DL Khristian Tate

College: Georgetown
Height: 6’0
Weight: 295
Draft Class: 2020
Tate is a fun player to watch. He’s got excellent athleticism for the position. He was a former high school running back when he arrived at Georgetown before making the transition to a stud defensive lineman. He still has the same fluidity within his movements as a DL. The athleticism shows up on special teams, as he’s blocked four kicks in his career. Up front along the defensive line, he shows the versatility to play in various techniques, has good quickness off the ball and the change of direction skills to pursue the ball carrier. He was one of, if not the, strongest defensive linemen on the team, with the ability to anchor, hold the point of attack and win with leverage.

S Antwan Collier

College: Florida A&M
Height: 6’2
Weight: 185
Draft Class: 2022
Collier is a super smart player that plays with a high football I.Q. He takes really good angles to the football, understands down and distance and is a very good tackler who is able to use his wingspan to wrap up the ball carrier in the hole, and outside on the perimeter. I think he plays with good length at the position and does a fantastic job of using his hands in coverage. That aspect allows him the ability to get in on a lot of pass breakups or interceptions.

San Antonio Brahmas
Grade: B

Supplemental Draft Focus: Receiver & Pass Rusher

RB/WR Calvin Turner Jr.

College: Hawaii
Height: 5’11
Weight: 202
Draft Class: 2022
Turner is a pure football player who just excels with the ball in his hands. He can affect the game in three ways: as a runner, receiver and return specialist. Watched him live at the East West Shrine Bowl last year and he got better each day running routes as a receiver, showing the upside there at the position as he’s still a neophyte at the position. Remember, he played QB and DB at Jacksonville University before switching to RB and receiver at Hawaii. Right out of the gate he’s able to be heavily involved in the WR run game and be a core special teamer.

OL Jonathan Irizarry

College: Mississippi Valley State
Height: 6’3
Weight: 300
Draft Class: 2022
Irizarry plays with an edge that’s necessary up front. He will fight with a defender through the whistle. The former Delta Devil shows good versatility being able to play across the front, even at Center. There could be a chance he could ultimately end up there as a pro. I believe he does a really good job bringing power with his initial contact, especially on combo blocks.

DL Prince Emili

College: Penn
Height: 6’1
Weight: 309
Draft Class: 2022
A technically and fundamentally sound player, he does a fantastic job of not allowing himself to get reached or cut-off blocked. There’s no secret to why he was such a highly productive player with the Quakers, as he plays with a solid base, always in a great position to change direction if need be and his hand usage is above average, helping him shed blocks almost immediately. He’s a read-and-react player, showcasing the fluid athleticism to get to the ball carrier or QB and make the play.

CB Luq Barcoo

College: San Diego State
Height: 6’0
Weight: 172
Draft Class: 2020
Barcoo does a great job of not wasting any stelps coming out of his breaks and is able to plant-and-drive on the ball, or ball carrier. He’s not afraid when the ball comes his way, showing comfortability in playing the ball when it is in the air. I like his ability in zone coverage, as he can execute a shuffle-and-drive technique really well. He shows patience in running with the receiver in regards to playing the upfield shoulder. Another area of his game where he shines is in run support, knowing how to set an edge as a defensive back.

St. Louis Battlehawks
Grade: B+

Supplemental Draft Focus: Quarterback & Pass Rusher

RB Mataeo Durant

College: Duke
Height: 6’1
Weight: 200
Draft Class: 2022
Durant is a smooth runner who is able to reach his top speed rather quickly and coast past defenders in the open field. A no nonsense type of runner who doesn’t waste time in getting downhill. He will keep the run playside and get what is there, but he won’t ever take an unnecessary loss. I like the effort in pass protection, meeting the blitzer at the contact point and arriving with good technique. As a receiver, I strongly believe he’s underrated in that capacity. To me, he can be considered a downfield threat in the passing game.

OL Jay Jackson-Williams

College: Florida A&M
Height: 6’4
Weight: 297
Draft Class: 2022
A long, lengthy athlete who started at left tackle at Florida A&M. Projecting forward as a guard, he brings good versatility and flexibility to the table. His long arms gives him the opportunity to reach block rather well and I believe in a zone-blocking scheme, he could have a ton of success. Once engaged, he does a fantastic job of locking out and extending, keeping a great distance between the defender and the QB.

DL Lacale London

College: Western Illinois
Height: 6’4
Weight: 297
Draft Class: 2020
London uses his hands really well for the position. He definitely wins the ‘hands first’ battle that takes place along the line of scrimmage. He’s able to hold strong in his particular gap, set the edge in the run game and also push the pocket with his length. A very active player at the line of scrimmage, London is supremely versatile, capable of lining up in any one of the techniques up front. He’s the type of defensive lineman who would be considered a nuisance and always involved in the play, in some form or fashion.

CB Mike Hampton

College: South Florida
Height: 6’0
Weight: 190
Draft Class: 2021
Hampton brings really good lateral agility to the position, which allows him to quickly get himself in good position on the backend in coverage, or to get down inside versus the run. Coming off of the short corner, he’s an excellent blitzer as well. He doesn’t get surprised or anxious when the ball is in the air, showing the ability to both see it and play through it. In that regard, he’s got the above average ball skills you want. He’s a strong 1-on-1 player, matching up against some of the big time receivers while in college and was more than able to hold his own.

Seattle Sea Dragons
Grade: B+

Supplemental Draft Focus: Quarterback

RB Brenden Knox

College: Marshall
Height: 6’0
Weight: 220
Draft Class: 2021
Knox reminds me so much of former Eagles RB Duce Staley. His feet stay extremely busy, which when combined with his top tier vision, allows him to be an excellent pick-and-slide runner. He runs with good pad level, which maximizes the physical strength he has as a player, subsequently making him a tough runner to bring down. In pass protection, he is more than capable in blitz pickup. I believe he has the makeup of a foundational back at the pro level.

OL Michal Menet

College: Penn State
Height: 6’4
Weight: 306
Draft Class: 2021
Menet takes complete advantage of a defensive lineman who has average-to-poor technique. He’s got a strong, fundamental base that allows him the ability to do that. He’s very solid on both ends of offense, getting movement in the run game while showing the above average patience and recognition in pass protection. Menet plays with the perfect amount of balance, technique and length within his game. Rarely is he in a bad position.

DL Niko Lalos

College: Dartmouth
Height: 6’5
Weight: 270
Draft Class: 2020
Lalos really came into his own as a senior, leading the Big Green in tackles for loss. He was able to build on that with an excellent week at the 2020 Hula Bowl, which saw him live in the backfield often and get into the end zone. With the length he has up front, he’s able to get good extension at the line of scrimmage and has shown to be a strong, one gap penetrator. He’s got very good awareness, getting a pick six versus Princeton at Yankee Stadium as a senior. He had stints with the New York Giants on the active roster and even playing within the regular defense and on special teams.

DB Shabari Davis

College: Southeast Missouri State
Height: 6’0
Weight: 186
Draft Class: 2022
Big fan of Davis and what he brings to the table. He’s got fantastic technique and an all-around skill set. His ability in zone coverage is terrific because it is all tied to his technique. From his footwork to his fluidity in his transition, he’s able to read, react and drive on the football. He’s a good open field tackler who can be trusted on the boundary as well as inside as a slot defender. Davis has the good ball skills to turn the ball over, and once he gets it, he’s a threat to score. Because of that threat, it makes him an elite return specialist. He is an A+ special teamer, in both coverage and in the return game. He was one of the best returners in the FCS last season.

Vegas Vipers
Grade: B+

Supplemental Draft Focus: Quarterback

TE/WR Isaih Macklin

College: North Carolina Central
Height: 6’5
Weight: 230
Draft Class: 2022
Macklin played at San Diego State from 2017-19 before transferring to NCCU, becoming an All-MEAC player before he finished. He has really good upside at the position, as he’s capable of playing all three tight end spots: Inline, Flex and H-Back. But I believe he’s ideally suited to play H-Back as a pro. Got really good work in that regard down at the HBCU Legacy Bowl. From a receiver perspective, he’s got good hands and uses excellent technique to maximize opportunities that come his way in the passing game. A solid release off the line of scrimmage gives him a chance to win with his routes, and overall is an above average route runner. As far as blocking is concerned, the effort and want-to is there, which is all you can ask for.

OL Dohnovan West

College: Arizona State
Height: 6’3
Weight: 315
Draft Class: 2022
I love the way West uses his hands versus defenders. He’s able to strike first and also keep them at bay with his length. There is some veteran savvy there as well, to the point where guys struggle to disengage from his blocks. He’s very good on the move, whether that is executing reach blocks, or getting out on screens. West is a good athlete where blocking on the move is a major asset for him. He’s also got the above average footwork to mirror defenders in pass pro. He was my #3 Center coming out of the 2022 draft class.

DL Robert Windsor

College: Penn State
Height: 6’4
Weight: 287
Draft Class: 2020
Windsor has a knack for being able to slip blocks and get into the backfield. Maybe a good reason for that is his quickness and footwork that he possesses, which is solid for the interior defensive line. He is someone who you would classify as a nuisance because he’s a high effort player that doesn’t allow himself to stay blocked for long.

DB Will Adams

College: Virginia State
Height: 6’1
Weight: 190
Draft Class: 2022
Adams is a very good athlete who put on a show at the 2022 HBCU Combine and then followed that up with a strong showing at the HBCU Legacy Bowl as well. He’s got the top tier explosiveness that coaches and scouts covet on the backend. I like how he is able to close on teh football, playing with good pad level and body lean, showing the ability to lay a good pop on the receiver or ball carrier. Adams is able to match up well versus tight ends and some bigger wide receivers. And just from an overall football perspective, he’s quick to diagnose what’s going on and is able to head in that direction in a flash.