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These 2023 XFL Players Deserve An NFL Roster Spot

While the NFL offseason is in full swing, approaching the draft full speed ahead, there is still live football going on. The XFL, while entertaining fans starved for more football, is also serving a secondary purpose – showcasing players that have either not successfully entered the NFL landscape or are a few years removed from NFL success. Here, I look at players who have shown the potential to take the next step and elevate to the next level.

AJ McCarron – QB, St Louis Battlehawks

This may seem like an obvious inclusion, considering McCarron was an NFL backup and himself chose to play in the XFL to get more playing time. However, AJ has turned this season into quite the statement about his caliber. Not only has he been the best QB in the league, but he also has that designation by a wide margin. He is tied for the best completion percentage in the league (68.9%) and has the league’s highest touchdown total (17) with just four interceptions.

He has shown the same traits that served him well at Alabama and in his NFL experience this season. He has a relaxed stance in the pocket and a quick, accurate release. He can complete passes at all lengths, read defenses and the field nicely, and construct drives. In the XFL, he has added the ability to take over games, has become even more decisive, and has become far more confident.

Even if this is at a lower level than the NFL, McCarron is on an improvement track that can get him to be worthy of a spot in the league and even compete for a starting spot.

Cody Latimer – TE, Orlando Guardians

Lattimer is a unique case. He’s had a sizeable amount of NFL experience, with both the Broncos and the Giants, and his most recent season in 2019 actually saw his best numbers, with 24 receptions, 300 yards, and two touchdowns. As an NFL player, he was actually a wide receiver, and despite his unique combination of size and speed, had trouble standing out with an NFL wide receiver group that is so explosive. At 6’2.5″, he has the size to be a tight end, and so far in the XFL, he has taken to that role well.

Latimer has been a revelation this year, being able to catch passes at all distances, running routes well, and being particularly useful on contested 50:50 balls. He’s an intimidating threat and is generally difficult to read. The production matches the skillset – he leads the XFL in receiving yards, yards per attempt, and catch percentage.

His play style is more of a hybrid WR/TE, but compared to the wide receiver group, the tight end group in the NFL is a little easier to stand out in. As more teams look towards sets with more pass catchers, particularly involving two TEs if they have the depth, Latimer can absolutely contend for an NFL roster spot, even some playing time.

Delontae Scott – DL, San Antonio Brahmas

Scott came into the XFL after a couple of seasons of bouncing around practice squads but has taken the league by storm. He has intimidated offenses with a great off-the-line burst, the ability to chase down the ball carrier and quarterback with his surprising speed, and clean, aggressive tackling. Most importantly, he can read the progression of the play and can shed blocks effectively using his speed, power, and athleticism.

In the age of the mobile NFL quarterback, the ability to construct a good pass rush is paramount. At the XFL level, Scott does it better than anyone. He is second among defensive linemen in terms of tackles with 34 and leads all DLs in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (7.5), and has forced two fumbles in addition to that. Scott deserves a chance to try to bring this form over to the NFL.

Brad Wing – P, San Antonio Brahmas

When first thinking of Brad Wing, my first thought was: wasn’t he already not only in the NFL, but also one of the better punters in the league? Wing did have a five-year career in the NFL, punting 325 times with an average nearing 45. Towards the end of his Giants tenure, an up-and-down stretch got him released from the team, and after a stint with the now-defunct AAF, he is looking to the XFL to revive his career.

This season, he’s punting at NFL-level numbers for the Brahmas. He not only leads the league in punt average, but he also leads considerably, with a whopping average of 47.7 yards per punt, one that would have put him at 14th in today’s NFL. He also is second in terms of punts downed inside the 20 and has done this all without having a single blocked punt. There are a number of teams that could use an improvement at punter, and Wing could absolutely by that guy.

Honorable mentions: Ben DiNucci, Abram Smith, Jahcour Pearson, Ajene Harris, Parker Romo

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