The XFL’s draft process began Tuesday morning, and there are plenty of former Mid-American Conference players wanting their shot in this league. You can watch the draft, which goes through Wednesday, on the XFL’s live stream of a very non-arousing YouTube live feed.
The draft consists of five rounds to make things a little more organized. The phases are broken up so teams are drafting against each other for their dibs on skilled players, offensive line, defensive front, defensive backs, then remaining players. The first four phases will last ten rounds each, and the fifth phase will be 30 rounds long.
All eight teams will be drafting until their 71-man rosters are completed.
Before the draft, the league announced initial quarterback assignments, giving all eight teams a QB to start out with. No MAC players involved here, but for the sake of having a reference:
- Cardale Jones to DC Defenders
- Landry Jones to Dallas Renegades
- Matt McGloin to New York Guardians
- Aaron Murray to Tampa Bay Vipers
- Luis Perez to LA Wildcats
- Brandon Silvers to Seattle Dragons
- Jordan Ta’amu to St. Louis BattleHawks
- Phillip Walker to Houston Roughnecks
This post will be updated. Here are the results so far as it pertains to the MAC:
Phase 1 (QB, RB, WR, TE)
Round 2, Pick 3 — Brogan Roback (EMU) to St. Louis BattleHawks
Former EMU Eagle Brogan Roback was the first MAC player to be drafted by an XFL team in its second first season. Since he graduated, Roback practiced with the Browns and Steelers in the NFL, but the real highlight of his career was being a crowd favorite on Hard Knocks.
Before the draft, QBs were assigned to each team. In the assignment, St. Louis received Jordan Ta’amu of Ole Miss.
Roback is the second QB taken in the XFL Draft with Connor Cook (Michigan State) as the second-overall pick to the Houston Roughnecks.
XFL’s analysis on Roback: “Before he was a key “character” on HBO’s Hard Knocks series, Brogan Roback went down as one of EMU’s most dynamic passers setting a number of school records, including TD passes. He has spent NFL offseasons with the Browns and Steelers where his whip-snap delivery allows him to get the ball out on time. He is a rhythm passer with good touch on his throws. He is slippery in the pocket and has continued to show progress in his ability to keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield.”
Round 2, Pick 5 — Tommylee Lewis (NIU) to Dallas Renegades
Lewis went undrafted after graduating from NIU, but immediately found playing time as a wide receiver and kick returner with the Saints.
In the NFL, Lewis played 34 games over three years, returned 36 punts for 335 yards (9.3 average), and 24 kickoffs for 528 yards (22.0). As a receiver, he caught 20 passes on 28 targets for 252 yards and two touchdowns.
Round 9, Pick 1 — Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) to DC Defenders
Jackson is the third skilled MAC player drafted into the XFL, and will be teammates with another noteworthy big quarterback, Cardale Jones (6-5, 250).
Jackson is the fourth QB taken during phase 1 of the draft after Cook, Roback, and Phillip Nelson (East Carolina).
Jackson left Buffalo after his redshirt-junior year and entered the NFL Draft, rather than returning or transferring as a graduate student. He went underafted, then signed with the Bills, made some preseason cameos, but never made the 53-man.
XFL’s analysis on Jackson: “The 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the year, Tyree Jackson signed with the Buffalo Bills after going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. He played in every preseason game and showed off his rangy arm strength and mobility as a passer. He possesses rare physical traits for a QB and offers considerable upside once he sharpens up his mechanics and game management skills. He is an aggressive downfield passer who gives his receivers the chance to convert big plays in one-on-one situations. His size, athleticism, and toughness also serve as a deadly combination near the goalline.”
Round 9, Pick 9 — Alonzo Russell (Toledo) to St. Louis BattleHawks
The former big receiver for Toledo has been drafted to St. Louis, the franchise’s second MACtion-sided selection. Russell was a 6-4 receiver who had one of the best freshman seasons in school history (56 catches, 960 yards, 5 TD in 2012).
After college, Russell practiced with the Bengals and Cardinals and finally made the 53-man roster for one game with the Giants in 2018.
Round 10, Pick 7 — Nick Holley (Kent State) to Houston Roughnecks
Holley played running back and receiver and quarterback and return guy and probably had to do his own laundry at Kent State because there was nothing he wasn’t asked to do for that team.
Holley practiced with the LA Rams for a year after college, but now he’s headed to Houston for XFL glory.
XFL on Holley: “The Dallas Renegades drafted five receivers all under 6-foot and all under 200 pounds, fitting the style head coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Hal Mumme have seen their teams utilize well in the past. Similarly, the Houston Roughnecks used six of their 10 draft picks in the initial phase on receivers, none on tight ends, and three on running backs — one of which has quality pass-catching experience and position versatility in Nick Holley.”
Phase 2 (OL)
Round 1, Pick 1 — Storm Norton (Toledo) to LA Wildcats
Storm Norton is the first overall pick in the O-line phase of the draft, and he’s headed to Los Angeles.
Norton was a standout tackle for Toledo, and made NFL rosters in Detroit and Minnesota, and played one game with Minnesota.
XFL on Norton: “The Los Angeles Wildcats selected OT Storm Norton (Toledo) with the first overall pick; he has been in camp or workouts with multiple NFL teams, including Minnesota and Miami. The Wildcats, led by offensive coordinator Norm Chow, want to win from the pocket and attack downfield, which is why they put a heavy emphasis on offensive tackles. To note, they selected three with their first four selections, including two over 6-7.”
Round 1, Pick 5 — Willie Beavers (WMU) to Dallas Renegades
Unlike the other MAC names who have been drafted to this point, Beavers is the first MAC player that was drafted into both the NFL and XFL. Beavers, formerly with WMU, was drafted in the fourth round by Minnesota in 2016, and made five practice squads over the three years that followed.
Round 3, Pick 4 — Isaiah Williams (Akron) to Tampa Bay Vipers
XFL’s analysis on Williams: Isaiah Williams originally enrolled at Akron as a defensive end, but made the full-time transition to the offensive line early on in his college career. In total, Williams has played with six NFL teams over four years as well as with Atlanta in the AAF. Quick to diagnose stunts and twists, the finisher also stalls bull rushes with ease.”
Round 5, Pick 6 — Zac Kerin (Toledo) to New York Guardians
Round 7, Pick 6 — John Kling (Buffalo) to New York Guardians
Round 8, Pick 1 — James O’Hagan (Buffalo) to DC Defenders
Round 9, Pick 5 — John Keenoy (WMU) to Houston Renegades
PHASE 3 (DL/LB)
Round 1, Pick 2 — Casey Sayles (Ohio) to St. Louis BattleHawks
Round 2, Pick 4 — Chuck Harris (Buffalo) to DC Defenders
Round 7, Pick 4 — Reggie Howard (Toledo) to LA Wildcats
Round 10, Pick 1 — Izzah Lunsford (BGSU) to Dallas Renegades
PHASE 4 (DB)
Round 4, Pick 1 — Jude Adjei-Barimah (BGSU) to Tampa Bay Vipers
Round 10, Pick 4 — Bryce Cheek (Akron) to LA Wildcats
PHASE 5 (special teams & all remaining players)
The fifth phase of the draft wasn’t live, and teams announced the collection of players drafted here at the completion of the draft. Here are the five MAC players picked during the open round to complete the 71-man rosters.
Asantay Brown (WMU) to Dallas Renegades
Tyree Holder (Ball State) to LA Wildcats
Jake Schum (Buffalo) to Tampa Bay Vipers
Kristjan Sokoli (Buffalo) to DC Defenders
Ike Spearman (EMU) to Tampa Bay Vipers