XFL players are eligible to begin signing with NFL or CFL teams beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Monday. What many consider the “P.J. Walker Sweepstakes,” in honor of the league’s breakout star, is actually a much deeper conversation.
Close observers believe the XFL had 50 to 80 NFL-quality players on its rosters during the league’s inaugural season, which was cut short after five weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some players who will be part of most teams’ conversations, along with one who almost certainly will be selected next month in the NFL draft.
1. P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks
Key stat: Led XFL with 1,338 yards and 15 passing touchdowns.
Walker was the breakthrough star of the league, demonstrating an accurate arm and good mobility in coach June Jones’ spread offense. He spent 2017 and 2018 on the Indianapolis Colts‘ practice squad and ended up in the XFL in part based on the recommendation of retired Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the son of XFL commissioner Oliver Luck.
2. Cam Phillips, WR, Houston Roughnecks
Key stat: Led XFL with 455 receiving yards and nine touchdowns
Phillips has been highly productive wherever he has played. He caught 236 passes in four seasons at Virginia Tech but went undrafted in 2018. He is undersized at 6 feet tall, and he ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at his pro day, but he is clearly a player who shows up on game day.
3. Jordan Ta’amu, QB, St. Louis BattleHawks
Key stat: Led XFL quarterbacks with 72% completion rate and 217 rushing yards
Although he didn’t light up the passing lanes, Ta’amu performed efficiently in a run-based, short-range offense.
4. Josh Johnson, QB, Los Angeles Wildcats
Key stat: Led XFL quarterbacks with an average of 8.0 yards per attempt
Johnson missed one start, but his 11 touchdown passes in 135 attempts gave him the same touchdown rate as that of Walker. Multiple NFL teams, including the Detroit Lions, expressed interest in him last season after injuries at the position.
Key stat: Led XFL tight ends with 24 receptions for 307 yards and four touchdowns
The XFL was a perfect place for a 6-foot-8 tight end out of Stetson to demonstrate that he can play — and in some cases dominate — at a higher level.
Key stat: 16 tackles, one interception
A sixth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, Smith has bounced between three NFL teams, and he also played in the AAF.
7. Jamar Summers, CB, New York Guardians
Key stat: 16 tackles, one interception
Summers, who has spent time in training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Lions while also playing in the AAF, did a nice job in coverage and also can be a core special-teams player.
8. Martez Ivey, OT, Tampa Bay Vipers
Key stat: Helped the Vipers record a league-high 828 rushing yards and six touchdowns
Ivey more than did his part in manning what might have been the league’s best offensive line.
9. Dan Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Vipers
Key stat: 23 receptions for 338 yards and one touchdown
Williams is a big, 6-foot-3 target who produced impressive statistics for a team that mostly struggled to throw.
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Key stat: 2 interceptions
Robinson was dismissed from West Virginia University because of a team violation and decided to join the XFL rather than wait a year to transfer to another school. That means he isn’t eligible to sign as a free agent, but he can and will be drafted in April. He has a chance to be a Day 2 pick.
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NFL teams usually prefer young running backs, but three older tailbacks were impressive in the XFL and could earn an NFL gig.
Key stat: 47 carries for 241 yards
Artis-Payne, 29, is a 5-foot-9 wrecking ball whom defenders don’t like to tackle.
Matt Jones, RB, St. Louis BattleHawks
Key stat: Ranked second in the XFL with 314 rushing yards
Jones, 27, is a smart inside runner. Washington Redskins fans will remember his style. He combined for 950 rushing yards during two seasons with the team, from 2015 to 2016.
Key stat: 147 rushing yards and 26 receptions
Dunbar is 30, and he spent parts of six seasons with NFL teams. But he proved he can still be a versatile weapon out of the backfield.