Several Former Gators in XFL Top 50 Free Agents for NFL Teams
While the second attempt at an XFL got off to a successful start, the novel coronavirus pandemic quickly put an end to the promising developmental football league.
With that, all XFL players are immediately eligible to sign with NFL teams as free agents. That has already begun happening, in fact. Notably, Jacques Patrick signed a three year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals after ranking third in the league in rushing yards, with 254 and two touchdowns in five games while splitting carries.
Accordingly, the XFL's former Director of Player Personnel, Eric Galko, compiled a list of the top 50 XFL free agents for the NFL to take a look at as teams fill out their rosters this offseason. After strong performances throughout the shortened season, Galko views three former Florida Gators as intriguing prospects that NFL teams should take a look at.
It should be noted, in an unconventional offseason for NFL teams to put together their rosters, that teams could elect to bring in experienced players over undrafted free agents following the NFL Draft, which could boost the chances of XFL players signing contracts.
RB Matt Jones, St. Louis Battlehawks
"Matt Jones and Lance Dunbar may be a bit older with history pasts, but they proved to be NFL-quality three-down backs and played with great patience and efficiency." - Galko
Posting 314 rushing yards and a touchdown over 80 carries, while also catching two passes for 25 yards and a score. the XFL served as a resurgence for Jones' football career.
After spending three years at Florida from 2012-14, Jones seemed to peak in his first two professional seasons with Washington, rushing for 964 yards and six touchdowns on 248 carries. He also added 27 receptions for 377 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Washington released Jones before the start of his third season, though, and he proceeded to bounce around the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. He sat out of football for a year before the XFL kicked off, and it is believed that he showed enough in the developmental league to earn another shot at only 27 years old.
OT Martez Ivey, Tampa Bay Vipers
"Martez Ivey started for the Florida Gators a year and a half before this, and after not getting a great NFL chance, he proved to be one of the league's best offensive tackles. He deserves teams to adjust their college evaluation of him in an NFL training camp." - Galko
Ivey possesses the ideal size to play offensive tackle in the NFL, at 6-5, 312 lbs., with 36 1/4" arms. While Ivey wasn't consistent in his play at Florida, he offers positional versatility after spending time at both offensive tackle and guard.
Given his size and experience, it was surprising that Ivey didn't at least make an NFL practice squad following going undrafted in 2019. Though, the XFL gave Ivey a starting opportunity and it appears to have paid off, as he's put enough on tape for teams to consider reevaluating him as a prospect.
XFL beat writer Brian Lombardo wrote at the end of the season that he believes Ivey has earned an NFL opportunity after a successful five games with the Vipers.
Safety Will Hill, St. Louis Battlehawks
"Will Hill, may have had multiple NFL chances in the past, but he's proved to still be an NFL-quality safety." - Galko
Ever since Hill contributed to Florida's 2008-09 BCS National Championship team, his career has been all over the place. He went undrafted in 2011, and has bounced around the NFL, AFL, CFL, AAF, and now the XFL.
Yet, Hill finally seemed to find his footing in the XFL. Starting in all five games, Hill produced 27 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, and two defended passes for the Battlehawks.
The 6-0, 202 lb. safety is now on the wrong side of 30 and has had previous legal and suspension issues for substance abuse and failure to pay child support, but he appears to have changed his life as no incidents have occurred since 2014. Hill can provide an NFL team with ample football experience and some playmaking ability as a depth piece at this point in his career.