5 XFL Stars Who Would Make Sense for the Jaguars in 2020
One of the results of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has been the indefinite closures or suspensions of seasons in several sports leagues. One league who closed its doors for the rest of its season due to the pandemic has been the reborn XFL, which was in the midst of the first season of its renewal.
Due to the shortened XFL season, players throughout the league will now be eligible to sign with NFL teams earlier than originally scheduled. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, XFL players can begin signing with NFL clubs for the 2020 season beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday.
This gives teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars another talent pool to consider adding from, in addition to the current crop of NFL free agents. Each of the eight XFL teams played five games, giving NFL clubs a decent sample size to evaluate and consider.
With XFL players soon to be eligible to sign with teams, it would make sense for most NFL organizations to at least consider signing players from the league. Each team has different needs and fits, of course, making it anyone's guess as to who could earn an NFL contract after the first season of the new XFL.
Which players could make sense for the Jaguars to at least ponder pursuing? We picked five who makes sense as a result of the Jaguars' needs and the performance of each player in the XFL's shortened season.
WR Cam Phillips
The XFL's most productive wide receiver by a wide margin, it shouldn't take long for Cam Phillips to find a home in the NFL this offseason. Phillips (6-foot-0, 201-pounds) was a dominant force all season long for the Houston Roughnecks, becoming P.J. Walker's favorite target and earning multiple 'Star of the Week' honors. Phillips caught 31 receptions for 455 yards and nine touchdowns, leading all XFL wide receivers in every category.
No other wide receiver caught more than four touchdown passes, making Phillips the most dangerous offensive skill player in the entire league. Considering the Jaguars' need for a wide receiver with size who can win on the outside, the 24-year-old Phillips is a perfect fit.
DT Cavon Walker
Despite being a slightly undersized defensive tackle, Cavon Walker (6-foot-2, 284-pounds) was one of the most disruptive players in the entire XFL. Placed in the middle of the New York Guardians' defense, Walker was the driving force behind New York's 13 sacks through five games, which was second amongst XFL teams. Walker recorded a league-leading 4.5 sacks through five games, the only XFL defender to record more than three sacks and one of only three to record more than two sacks.
Walker was also tied for the second-most tackles for loss in the league with five and led the league in quarterback hits with nine. With the Jaguars losing the heart and soul of their interior pass-rush unit due to the trade of Calais Campbell, the Jaguars should be in the market for an interior disruptor, meaning Walker should be high on their radar.
QB P.J. Walker
Gardner Minshew II was essentially handed the Jaguars' starting quarterback position once the team traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears on Wednesday, but the Jaguars could still be in the market to add another signal-caller to their quarterback room. The team traded a fifth-round pick for Josh Dobbs last fall, and the front office and coaching staff are high on Dobbs, but it would be almost negligence for a team without a bonafide long-term starter to not inquire into Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker. According to Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston, the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Broncos have all shown interest in Walker, and these three teams have No. 1 passers already. So why shouldn't the Jaguars follow suit?
Walker likely would have been the XFL's most valuable player if he continued his trajectory through the final half of the season. The 25-year-old passer led the XFL in passing yards (1,338), passing touchdowns (15), and total touchdowns (16). He was a big-play threat waiting to happen, and he frequently beat defenses with both his legs and his ability to push the ball downfield. The Jaguars could realistically add Walker to compete with Dobbs. If wins the backup job, he would be one of the highest-ceiling backups in the NFL, a valuable thing to have when there is long-term uncertainty at the position.
TE Donald Parham
The Jaguars' need at tight end is obvious and hasn't gone ignored by those on the outside, but Jacksonville has so far stayed silent while the tight end market moves along. Historically, general manager Dave Caldwell opts for bargains at tight end instead of diverting a lot of financial or draft capital into the positions, and with that mindset considered, it would make sense for the Jaguars to strongly consider Dallas Renegades tight end Donald Parham.
The former Stetson University tight end is a towering figure every time he steps onto the field thanks to his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame, something that served him well in the XFL. Combine this with better than expected long speed for his size, and Parham is an intriguing talent who should be able to land with an NFL team thanks to his skills and XFL production. He caught 24 receptions for 307 yards and four touchdowns, making him fifth in the league in catches, third in receiving yards, and tied for second in touchdowns.
CB Ajene Harris
With the Jaguars having a big need at cornerback due to the lack of depth at the position, the team needs to explore all possibilities when it comes to adding talent to the position. Darqueze Dennard, Tre Herndon, and D.J. Hayden is a solid group, but the Jaguars need to fill out the rest of the cornerback room to compete with players such as Brandon Watson and Parry Nickerson.
The third Houston Roughnecks player on this list, Ajene Harris is a former USC Trojan who had solid production in his five games for Houston. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Harris has experience in the slot and has the ball production to indicate he could matchup versus smaller wide receivers on the outside. In five games, Harris recorded seven pass deflections, the second-most in the XFL. He could be a cost-effective option who gets a shot in training camp to earn a spot on the opening day roster.