The 2020 XFL season is officially underway and by most metrics, things got off to a relatively hot start for the WWE product its second time around. Many fans who tune into the XFL aren’t just watching it for the sake of taking in more football, but also to see which players end up in the NFL. After all, that is the primary goal for most players in the league.
And the talent is there. The league features a plethora of fringe talent that may just need that one opportunity. So with that in mind, here’s a look at five XFL players who could resurrect their football careers.
5. Scooby Wright, LB, D.C. Defenders
In 2014 while at Arizona, Wright had a career season, being named a unanimous All-American and first-team All-Pac-12, while also winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Two years later, he was a seventh-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, and all career momentum seemed to come to an end. Wright bounced around the NFL for a couple of years before joining the AAF in 2019 and then landing back on an NFL roster, this time with the New England Patriots. Again, his professional career seemed to go nowhere, and he ended up joining the XFL. At 25 years old, Wright is still relatively young, healthy and riddled with potential. Receiving consistent playing time under NFL-level coaches might be just what the doctor ordered for Wright, but it may also be his last chance.
4. Marquette King, P, St. Louis Battlehawks
A punter? Really? Yes, really. There may be a large number of former NFL players looking to revitalize their careers in the XFL, but how many of them had previously been named an All-Pro? Marquette King qualifies. The fact that the eccentric King isn’t currently on an NFL roster is curious, but playing in the XFL will allow him to get back onto the league’s radar. And in Week 1, King reminded everyone just how talented he actually is by dropping a beautiful 54-yard punt at the opposing one-yard line before a clumsy play by his gunner knocked the ball into the end zone. As a punter, King won’t garner the same fanfare many of the other players will, but he has one of the better opportunities to earn his way back into the NFL.
3. Kony Ealy, DE, Houston Roughnecks
Kony Ealy is one of the most interesting names in the XFL because of how hot and fast his time in the NFL burned. A second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Ealy dominated out of the gate, earning a spot on the PFWA All-Rookie Team after 12 tackles and four sacks in his first season. He recorded 10 more sacks over the following two seasons before being traded to the New England Patriots and almost immediately waived. He went on to have a cup of coffee with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders, but was unable to rediscover that early-career success. Now 28 years old, Ealy has one final shot to piece together some quality film and find his way back to the NFL.
2. Elijah Hood, RB, Los Angeles Wildcats
A seventh-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 2017 NFL Draft, Elijah Hood had his NFL career hit an almost immediate snag due to injuries. In fact, over three seasons with three different teams, he managed to log just eight special teams snaps. Now in the XFL, Hood was among the first non-quarterback draft picks and subsequently earned a starting job in Los Angeles. If Hood can stay healthy, perhaps he can dial it back to his Charlotte Catholic High School days when he gained more than 8,900 yards, or his North Carolina days when he surpassed 2,500 yards rushing. Still just 23 years old, there’s a lot of tread left on Hood’s tires. NFL teams seem to have a consistent need for running backs, so this could be his pathway back to the pros.
1. Cardale Jones, QB, D.C. Defenders
Cardale Jones is one of the bigger names in the XFL after a relatively successful career at Ohio State led to him becoming a fourth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2016. However, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jones was never really given a legitimate opportunity at the NFL level, bouncing around between three teams and appearing in just one game. Now a starting quarterback for the Defenders, Jones will get to work with some quality offensive minds with a history of success in the NFL, while also compiling some very valuable game film. In Week 1, Jones completed 62 percent of his passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, adding an additional 28 yards rushing in a victory.
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