Miscellaneous NFL

Ten XFL Players NFL Teams Should Target

Shade Piper | March 22nd, 2020

As with most sports leagues in the United States, and throughout many leagues across the world for that matter, COVID-19 has ended the inaugural season of the XFL. Because of the early end to the season, XFL players are also able to begin signing with NFL franchises sooner.

According to ESPN’s Keven Seifert, XFL players can begin signing with NFL teams tomorrow morning, March 23rd at 9 a.m. ET. As much of the NFL’s top free agents have already been taken off the market, the XFL will insert some new exciting options to the market.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 XFL players who could be joining NFL rosters soon.

1. Donald Parham, TE, Dallas Renegades

Parham wasn’t the face of the XFL by any means, but he could very well be the most likely XFL player to find success at the next level. At just 22 years of age, the 6’8″ 257 lb tight end has a lot of football ahead of him and likely hasn’t even come close to reaching his full potential and that’s the scary part about him. Parham dominated the XFL leading all tight ends in receiving yards (third overall) and in touchdowns (tied-second overall). He finished the season with 307 yards and four touchdowns. He put up some solid traditional stats, but we haven’t even gotten to his best stat.

During a week three win over the Seattle Dragons, Parham hit 21.1 MPH on a 65-yard touchdown catch and run. For comparison’s sake, the NFL’s fastest player Tyreek Hill hit a top speed of 22.64 MPH last season. In other words, with that size and that speed, Parham could be a matchup nightmare in the NFL.

2. P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks

Now Parham may have been first on this list, but Walker was the face of the league. Walker took the XFL by storm and will assuredly win the XFL’s first MVP award assuming they give one out amid the suspension of the season. Walker finished the season with 1,338 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 104.4 passer rating. He also added 99 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The only reason he isn’t number one on this list is that he’s likely only a backup quarterback in the NFL and with guys like Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton looking for work still it may make it difficult for Walker to find a market. Nevertheless, Walker has a ton of talent and deserves to at least be a backup in the NFL, so he is a player to keep your eye on as free agency continues.

3. Kenny Robinson, SAF, St. Louis BattleHawks

Robinson was somewhat of a trailblazer in the XFL becoming the first player to forgo his remaining college eligibility to jump into the XFL. Robinson is a little different than the rest of the players on this list as he is draft-eligible and has a good shot at being drafted. Had he been able to play out this college football season without any hiccups, Robinson would likely be one of the top safety options. His last college season he allowed the lowest passer rating of all Big 12 safeties.

He has some off the field concerns with his dismissal from West Virginia and he also showed some slight attitude problems with a couple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in week four of the XFL, but if he can prove that he is maturing his talent could outweigh those concerns and should be drafted.

4. Cam Phillips, WR, Houston Roughnecks

Phillips was an absolute monster in the XFL. He finished the season leading all receivers in receiving yards and touchdowns and it wasn’t particularly close. Philips had 455 yards receiving, which was more than 100 more than the next closest receiver, and nine touchdowns, five more than the next closest. Phillips doesn’t have blazing speed, but he is a crisp route runner with great hands and is just 24 so he has the upside to potentially make it in the NFL.

5. James Butler, RB, Houston Roughnecks

Our third Houston Roughneck on the list didn’t get here by leading the league in rush attempts or yards, but he was extremely efficient when given the ball especially in the red zone. Butler led the league in rushing touchdowns with four and was sixth on the rushing yards list despite having just half of the attempts of rushing leader DeVeon Smith. He also was near the top with 4.8 yards per carry and top four in running back receptions while adding one touchdown through the air. Butler is just 25, so he has plenty of youth left in his tank to have a chance of making an NFL roster as an efficient physical runner with receiving abilities.

6. De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, St. Louis BattleHawks

Pierson-El is not an XFL stat leader, so his numbers probably won’t wow you, but he is on this list because of upside. He is one of the biggest after-the-catch threats in the XFL with great speed. He was used on a lot of screens and sweeps in the XFL and projects to be a player who could be used similarly to that of the 49ers versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Pierson-El would also be a valuable special teams player which is a great way to cling to an NFL team as a depth player.

7. Steven Johnson, LB, Seattle Dragons

Johnson led the XFL in tackles this year and is not only an excellent run stuffer but was all over the field. His upside would be limited in coverage at the next level, but he really has a knack for finding himself around the football and making plays. He also had two deflected passes and a league-leading six tackles for a loss.

8. Marquette King, P, St. Louis BattleHawks

King was once a premier punter in the NFL and after his performance in the XFL this season he could very well find himself back on an NFL roster. The former NFL Second-Team All-Pro lead the XFL in yards per punt this year showing he can still play and should be an NFL player.

9. Deatrick Nichols, CB, Houston Roughnecks

Nichols led the league in interceptions with three and was top three in passes defended. He had a brief stint with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and his performance in the XFL should put him back on NFL teams’ radars. He showed upside coverage abilities and great ball skills and speed. His ball skills and speed alone should warrant another shot in an NFL training camp.

10. Cavon Walker, DT, New York Guardians

We have talked about stat leaders in various categories, so we might as well talk about sacks. Walker not only led the league with 4.5 sacks in five games but also was the league leader in quarterback hits with nine and tied for second in tackles for a loss. Walker is likely too small to play defensive tackle at the next level, but could possibly kick it outside to defensive end and be a valuable signing for an NFL team looking for pass rusher depth.

Honorable Mentions: Anthony Johnson, Dan Williams, Jordan Ta’amu, DeVeon Smith

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