The XFL kicked off today, and it showed us an incredible new side of spring football. Not only is the game more exciting with the tweaks in rule changes, but the talent performing in the league is also incredibly better than the players who performed in last years now-defunct AAF.
The Los Angeles Wildcats started the season on the road against the Houston Roughnecks in the league’s second game ever, aired on FOX. The Roughnecks defeated the Wildcats, 37-17, and the football world is buzzing with the leagues exciting new format.
Here at Draft Rite, we will be scouting players in the league looking for those who may get a chance at playing in the NFL in 2020. Here are the first scouting notes of the season.
Phillip Walker is exciting and explosive
With the exemplary performance this season, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray showed that small, explosive quarterbacks do work in the NFL and that people like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees aren’t just outliers. In the second game of the XFL’s history, Phillip Walker showed many of the same similarities. He’s an exciting, explosive quarterback with a good arm and great mobility and pocket awareness. Walker completed 23 of 39 passes for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns, currently an XFL record, and added 26 yards on 4 carries on the ground.
Walker was a third-string quarterback in Indianapolis for two seasons, behind Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. He’s a former college star from Temple and had yet to appear in an NFL game. If he plays the way he did tonight for the rest of the season, Walker could be looking at that second opportunity to play at the next level.
Cam Phillips and Nelson Spruce could earn second opportunities
Houston wide receiver Cam Phillips, the former star receiver from Virginia Tech, has gotten a lot of hype from his own coaches as the best receiver on this team. He’s got good size, standing at 6’0″ and 205 pounds. He’s more of a physical receiver, someone who isn’t going to create a lot of separation with his speed but can catch through contact. Phillips had a very nice 50-yard touchdown catch where he used subtlety to win the route.
Nelson Spruce was almost unstoppable for the Los Angeles Wildcats. He’s a route runner at it’s finest and has a reliable pair of hands that NFL teams crave. Spruce is the league’s first 100-yard receiver, catching 11 passes on 15 targets for 103 yards. His suddenness creates separation and space, and he’s deadly on timing routes.
- Wildcats defensive lineman Shaun Oakman is worth mentioning for his performance in this game. Oakman was a star at Baylor who was unable to convince NFL teams that he cared about football. Getting his second chance, he made the most of his opportunities without a start. He collected a sack, 2 hits on the quarterback, and a pass deflection off of the bench.
- If Shaun Oakman is being mentioned then we have to mention Roughnecks linebacker LaTroy Lewis. The Houston leader collected 2 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble.
- Los Angeles running back Elijah Hood made the leagues first highlight hurdle, but he was also a centerpiece in the Wildcats offense. Showing flashes of burst, athleticism, and contact balance, Hood ran for 43 yards and led all players (on both teams) in rushing yards.
- Roughnecks wide receiver Sam Mobley, from Catwaba, Canada, really had a good day and showed flashes of speed and excellent route running. He has an excellent release and can impact the game with his speed. Mobley had a single catch, a 39-yard score where he burned the coverage and was wide open in the end zone.