Weekly Five – Combine Snubs and XFL Fun
Welcome to the second edition of my Weekly Five. Each Wednesday, I’ll take a look at some of the biggest storylines in the football world, prospects I’ve been scouting, and much more. This week I’ll go over some of the NFL Combine snubs that have me scratching my head, a few polarizing 2020 Draft prospects, and the thrilling debut of XFL 2.0. Let’s hop in!
Combine Snubs – Offense
Every single player that was invited to Indy and will suit up at Lucas Oil Stadium has earned this opportunity, but there are several players we won’t be talking about in a couple weeks that more than deserved their shot. I’ll start on offense. A few productive Power 5 quarterbacks in Tyler Huntley and Bryce Perkins would have had some fun test results, and Shrine Bowl invite Mason Fine from North Texas was also left out. At running back, I am a huge fan of Tavien Feaster’s athleticism and 3-down ability coming out of South Carolina after transferring from Clemson, and he would have had a week that really helped his stock. Adrian Killins from UCF would have been one of the fastest backs in Indy but didn’t receive an invite. Illinois’ Reggie Corbin is also a fun player. Arguably the biggest snub of all is ULL lineman Kevin Dotson. He received a second round grade from me and was an AP All-American, yet was left out. He’s super powerful and also moves really well in space, and a strong Combine showing would have really put him on the map in this IOL class.
Combine Snubs – Defense
Auburn safety Daniel Thomas was invited to the Combine, but his partner in crime Jeremiah Dinson (the team leader in tackles) was not. Thomas is a good player, but I ended up with a fourth round grade on Dinson and think he’s one of the most reliable tacklers in this draft. He is excellent in run support but can also cover underneath areas well. I don’t think he’s an overly dynamic athlete, but it still would have been nice to see him in Indy. I’ve also been a fan of Memphis EDGE Bryce Huff (friend of the site) for a while because of his tremendous first step explosiveness as a pass rusher, and I have a feeling he would have tested extremely well. Baylor DT Bravvion Roy was also snubbed, which has been drawing comparisons to Poona Ford also being left out two years ago; athletic players on the interior but on the smaller side with shorter arms. It’s a shame the league hasn’t valued Roy more after seeing the success of Ford in Seattle, but he has the talent to win them over eventually. Parnell Motley took a big leap and was by far Oklahoma’s best defensive back, but was also left out, along with two other secondary players I like in Arizona’s Jace Whittaker and Minnesota’s Chris Williamson.
In the past week I completed evaluations for three consensus first or second round Draft picks: Javon Kinlaw, CJ Henderson, and Grant Delpit. All three clearly have incredible talent but with one huge flaw in their game that could end up sending their careers down the wrong path. I’ll start with Kinlaw. The consensus does seem to have him as a top 10-15 player, so not as polarizing as the other two, but I will be a bit lower on him. The first step explosiveness, power and punch, and crazy flexibility pop off the screen. I’m just concerned with his current play style. He’s overly aggressive and shows little to no patience, especially in the run. In turn, his pad level struggles to stay low and he gets washed out of too many plays, much more than you’d want to see. I have no doubt he has the talent to be a quality NFL player, and this can be overcome, but for now he’s a late first round grade for me. With Henderson and Delpit, the issue is tackling. This one is much more agreed upon among evaluators. Henderson has incredible fluidity in man coverage and Delpit has elite athleticism and instincts from the safety position, and both have top 15 talent potential. It’s just so frustrating to watch some of the angles they both take and the missed tackles in space are maddening. I believe both can be productive at the next level, but they get fringe first round grades for me. If someone can light a fire underneath them, though, look out.
The XFL is Fun!
I was able to catch the season opener between DC and Seattle as well as bits and pieces of the other games and man, I’m in on this league. The product on the field is obviously middling, but everything from live TV F-bombs to interviewing kickers fresh off of a missed field goal to listening in to play calls from the sideline is as immersive as you could ask for from a football game. Everyone and their brother has shared their thoughts on the debut of XFL 2.0 so I’ll keep this one brief, but it’s clear that the league has a vision for the near future. The AAF tried too hard to rush in as a feeder league and in the end crashed and burned. The XFL has taken its time and has had plenty of money put into it, and has a vision to be purely the XFL, nothing more. Hopefully this means the league lasts more than a couple years, because the entertainment value is next level. As of now, I’m sold, and I’m pledging my allegiance to…
DC Defenders = America’s Team
…the DC Defenders! This has been a popular choice, but there is so much to like about this team from a narrative standpoint and from my own personal standpoint. Cardale Jones and Tyree Jackson gives us about 500 pounds of pure gunslinger at the quarterback position. Give me this 2 QB system every day of the week. The NCAA’s leading career rusher in Donnell Pumphrey in the backfield with them? Even better. The personal ties run even deeper for me with this team. Wide receiver Tyler Palka is a graduate of Gannon University, a hometown school. Matt Elam has had his troubles but was always a joy to watch play for my Florida Gators. And of course, his safety partner and former Bronco Rahim Moore, who broke my heart on the Jacoby Jones play in the divisional round, but came away with an interception against the Dragons this week. Not to mention listening to Pep Hamilton’s 28 word west coast playcalls. I’m officially a DC Defenders fan, and I can’t wait to see them win the 2020 XFL title in a few months.