AAF Players to Keep an Eye On
So you’ve heard about this upstart football league: The Alliance of American Football. You may have watched a couple of series, maybe even a full game or two. You probably know that Johnny Football is now back on American soil playing for the Memphis Express, and he got more than a few snaps on Sunday. At this point, it’s clear that the AAF is a developmental league, not a competitor to the NFL. An official partnership could be coming before the end of the AAF’s season. So with that in mind, who are some guys that could wind up in the NFL next year? Don’t worry, I’ve done the legwork so you don’t have to. After watching 28 games of AAF action, I’m picking one guy from each team that you’ll see at a training camp near you this summer.
Atlanta Legends: Avery Gennesy – LT
A Texas A&M and EMCC product, Gennesy has made the most of his time in the AAF. He earned first team ALL-SEC honors in 2016, and has been a rare bright spot for the Legends (aside from their duo of safeties, Tyson Graham and Ed Reynolds, who both could have been mentioned here). His experience at guard could also be a plus for him. A mauler in the run game and improving as a pass protector, Gennesy could be a solid backup in the league if he keeps improving.
Arizona Hotshots: Rashad Ross – WR
With six touchdowns, Ross is currently the league’s most dynamic receiving threat. After playing his college ball at Arizona State, Ross went undrafted in 2013. He’s bounced around nine different teams since then, before landing in the Alliance. He’s made the most of this opportunity, hauling in 32 receptions for 505 yards (2nd in the league) and 6 touchdowns (1st in the league). He asserted his dominance in week one, going for 103 yards and two touchdowns against the Stallions (including a sick one hander!). A smooth route runner with fantastic hands, Ross is a threat at any position on the field. He’s consistently open, and he reminds me a little of Antonio Brown with his play (before I get any shit on Twitter, I said A LITTLE BIT. But the dude is ALWAYS OPEN.) If your team is looking for a third or fourth wide receiver, Ross is a guy you should be keeping an eye on.
Birmingham Iron: Jamar Summers – CB
Quite simply the best corner in the AAF, Summers unfortunately went down with an injury this weekend, and we’re all wishing him a speedy recovery. He’s made a third of the PFF’s team of the week, and as PFF themselves noted: “If one person has made a name for themselves this season on defense, arguably the loudest of those names being shouted is Jamar Summers.” He was first team All All-American Athletic Conference pick at UConn, and has made a convincing case of why he should be playing in the NFL next year. He allowed a 0.0 passer rating through the first three games of the season on fifteen targets. That is just absurd. In addition to being a lockdown corner, PFF has graded Summers as the best special teams player in the AAF so far. Expect to hear his name a lot come August.
Memphis Express: Johnny Manziel – QB
After getting kicked out of Canada, can Johnny Football get back in the league? We shall see, but he had a decent debut, going three for five with sixty yards. The electricity felt through the stadium when Manziel was in was palpable, and I don’t know how much longer he will be the backup. If he plays well in the final couple games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in training camp. THAT being said, don’t count out Brandon Silvers, the 67th quarterback the Express has had under center this year
Orlando Apollos: Garrett Gilbert – QB
and Charles Johnson – WR
Ok I know I said one player per team, but these two have been so dominant I couldn’t decide which one to pick. Gilbert leads the league in passing yards (and it’s not close), while Johnson leads the league in receiving yards. Gilbert, the former Texas and SMU product, has been a revelation this season. One of the first stars in the AAF, he has cemented himself as the league’s best quarterback this season. His touchdown to interception ratio is absolutely insane (11/1 for those keeping score at home), and the Apollos are the best team in the league largely as a result of his efforts. Johnson is another big reason Spurrier’s squad is the top team. A former 2013 seventh round pick out of Grand Valley State, Johnson is a burner with sub 4.4 speed. That speed shows up a lot, as he often just runs by slower defensive backs. Him and Gilbert are the AAF’s deadliest combination, and both have earned another shot in the NFL.
Salt Lake City Stallions: Karter Schult – DE
Karter Schult is a guy that should still be in the NFL, in my humble opinion. Everywhere he’s been, he’s been a sack machine. The Northern Iowa product led all of division 1 football in sacks his senior year. Currently the AAF’s sack leader with 7, Karter just moves at a different speed then everyone else on the line. He’s not just a one trick pony either, he is second in total tackles by a defensive lineman with 22. I don’t really know what else to say about him, as his stats and on field play speak for themselves. If you want a little more insight on Karter, the All Aboard AAF podcast has a fantastic interview with him as well. Of course as a host of the show, I’m not biased in any way. If I had to pick one guy to be a starter in the NFL from the AAF, Karter might be it for me. I am officially the founding member of the Karter Schult 2019 NFL hive, feel free to join me at any point.
San Antonio Commanders:
Logan Woodside – QB
No player in the AAF has improved more from week three on than Woodside. When Manziel joined the AAF, there were a lot of rumors of him playing for the Commanders, given his college stardom at Texas A&M. Woodside stayed silent during this time but the Commanders stuck by him by waiving their rights to Manziel. Woodside has repaid them by playing the best ball of his career. While he still needs to be more careful with the ball, Woodside is a tough player that can spread the ball around the field. His 7/7 touchdown/interception ratio doesn’t look great, but in the last 3 weeks it is 5/2. The Commanders are the hottest team in the AAF right now, and Woodside is a major reason why.
San Diego Fleet: Terrell Watson – RB
Terrell is just huge. No other way around it. Standing at six foot one, 245 pounds, Watson is a human battering ram. A team in need of a short yardage back should be signing this man in the summer. Not really much else to say except guys this big that run 4.5 forties and leap eleven feet in the broad jump are in short supply. Dude’s a freak and he should be in the league next year.