The Seattle Dragons might not have the best roster in the XFL, but they’re likely going to have the best home field advantage in the league. It’s not going to be like anything experienced at a Seahawks game, of course, but in terms of other teams in the XFL, the Dragons are likely going to have a nice crowd on hand for their contests at CenturyLink Field. Whether that’s enough to carry the Dragons deep into the playoffs remains to be seen, though. Unlikely, but the XFL is a wide open field that could result in some surprises. Home field advantage in the playoffs will be imperative for the Dragons, though. The Dragons do have a quarterback on their side that did pretty well in the AAF. That’s a positive in a league that has a lot of players from the AAF.
Jim Zorn signed on to be the head coach of the Dragons, which gives the team a coach with NFL head coaching experience. It’s not a lot of experience, but Zorn did coach the Washington Redskins from 2008 to 2009. He was fired in 2019 following a slow start with the Redskins. The Redskins are still trying to figure things out to this day. That’s not to say Zorn was a good head coach.
The responsibilities of the job looked way over his head, and he hasn’t coached much at all since Washington. He was the quarterback’s coach the Baltimore Ravens and KC Chiefs from 2010 to 2012 then disappeared. The Dragons are his first coaching job, which includes the high school level, since he was with the Chiefs in 2012. Zorn’s speciality is quarterbacks. He spent the majority of his career in the NFL as a quarterback’s coach, so we’ll have to see if his advice helps elevate Silver’s game under center. Get our Seattle Dragons’ roster breakdown and key players to look out for in 2020.
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) February 19, 2020
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Brandon Silvers is unlikely to be good enough to lead the Dragons to a championship, but he’s a serviceable option. Out of the quarterbacks available in the XFL pool, there were worse options than Silvers out there. Silvers played his college ball at Troy and had a tryout with the New Orleans Saints in minicamp. That didn’t go well and Silvers didn’t get to training camp.
He joined Johnny Manziel in Memphis with the Express of the AAF and got some play after Manziel was injured. Silvers played reasonably well with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for a 64% completion percentage. He’s not expected to get further than Tier-2 football and reach an NFL roster, but could make an okay living in the XFL if it is a successful league.
Former South Florida Bull, B.J. Daniels, will serve as the Dragons’ backup quarterback in 2020. It feels like just yesterday he was with South Florida creating big plays, but he’s already 30 and has already been in the NFL, CFL, and AAF. The 49ers used a seventh round pick on Daniels in 2013, but was waived and ended up on his feet with the Seahawks until 2015 when he was waived in December.
His NFL numbers include 1-for-2 passing with 7 yards and 2 receptions for 18 yards. He attempted to keep the NFL dream alive after a stint with the Seahawks, though Daniels bounced around five different teams, even trying to give it a go at running back, before getting drafted in the second round by the Salt Lake Stallions in the AAF last year. He was a good quarterback in college, but his game has not translated to the professional level.
The Dragons are going to employ a three pronged attack in the backfield. It’s running back by committee in Seattle, with all three of their running backs on the depth chart fairly even. If somebody emerges as the clear No. 1, then of course the Dragons will be more open to giving one of them a heavier workload. Ja’Quan Gardner is a little known running back out of Humboldt State who broke rushing records in college. He got no attention in the 2018 draft, but the 49ers gave him a look as an undrafted rookie. Gardner was released after failing to impress the coaching staff and landed with the San Diego Fleet of the AAF.
Kenneth Farrow went the undrafted route as well, being signed to the Chargers in 2016, but actually made the 53-man roster as the No. 3 running back. He even got a couple of starts in late 2016 because of a Melvin Gordon injury. Farrow was ultimately released in 2018, finishing with 192 rushing yards and 13 receptions for 70 yards. He found his way back to the NFL this past preseason after playing well in the AAF, but was cut by the Dolphins after failing to impress in the preseason.
Then there’s another running back with a little NFL experience under his belt on the Dragons. Trey Williams has been with six different NFL teams, including two spots in Dallas to tryout for the Cowboys. Between practice squads and training camps, the former Texas A&M Aggie appeared in two regular season games for 12 rushing yards. This should be a fairly consistent position for the Dragons. There’s depth and they have three reliable running backs to use in the backfield. Seattle may not have the best rushing game in the XFL this season, but
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
It’s good to see former standout Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds, still finding jobs as a football player. Reynolds is one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen at Navy in years, as he broke records as a Midshipmen. The program continues to look for his replacement after he graduated after the 2015 season. His No. 19 has since been retired at Navy. Reynolds finished his collegiate career with 4,001 passing yards with 31 touchdowns and 8 interceptions to go along with 4,559 rushing yards and 88 touchdowns on the ground.
Reynolds failed to get past final cuts with the Ravens, Redskins, and Seahawks, but did reach practice squads. Reynolds is a wide receiver and emergency quarterback for the Dragons. He is a versatile weapon that can be used as a kick and punt returner as well. With a big season for the Dragons, Reynolds may catch the attention of NFL scouts again. At only 25 years of age, Reynolds is still young enough to contribute in the NFL. Reynolds along with UNC Tarheel, Austin Proehl, should combine for a tough duo in the secondary.
Proehl is a speedy, small receiver that was attempting to make a team as a slot receiver in the NFL. He was drafted as flier in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills in 2018, but has already been on two NFL teams since then. With the Titans, Proehl was signed to the practice squad and got released the next day, so not a long stay in Nashville. He was released by the Rams during final roster cuts this past preseason. Proehl will likely find a way to contribute for the Dragons in the XFL, though. I’m not really high on the other receivers on this roster, which could hurt them badly if injuries arise to Reynolds or Proehl. Depth is a concern for the Dragons here.
The defense in Seattle is likely where the Dragons are going to win games. The home crowd at CenturyLink Field should provide a hostile environment for opposing quarterbacks. That likely will result in big plays for the defense. Jeremy Clark has a lot to gain by having a solid year in the XFL. The former standout at Michigan was drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 draft by the Jets.
Clark could have gone higher, but an ACL injury in college resulted in him getting off to a slow start in the NFL. Unable to fully get over his injury with the Jets, Clark was released this past September. Clark could develop into a playmaker for the Dragons at cornerback if he’s finally over his knee injury. Boom or bust type of player.
Clark and Channing Stribling are two players to be aware of in the secondary for the Dragons. Stribling was a teammate of Clark at Michigan, though Stribling’s expectations were lower. He went undrafted and initially found a way onto the Browns, but was released from the practice squad in September of 2017. Stribling also had appearances on the Colts, 49ers, and Chargers’ practice squad. The former Wolverines are the top two options on the Dragons’ depth chart, though Mohamad Seisay may be a sleeper to watch out for.
Seisay went the undrafted route out of Nebraska in 2014 and found regular season action with the Lions. He played in 13 games and recorded 5 tackles before the Lions traded him to the Seahawks for a sixth round pick. Not a bad deal for the Lions, as Seisay struggled to find playing time in Seattle until he became a Dragon in the XFL.
The Dragons’ defense should also get support deep from strong safety Godwin Igwebuike. Igwebuike appeared in six NFL games in 2018 with the 49ers and Buccaneers. He was able to registered just 2 tackles, but there are several guys in this secondary who have had at least some NFL experience. Cornerback Steve Williams is another Dragon with time playing in the NFL regular season. Williams was a contributor for the Chargers in 2014 and 2015. He has a total of 48 tackles with 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles in the NFL across three years.
The Dragons also have NFL experience at linebacker with Steven Johnson. The 31-year-old played six years in the NFL from 2012 to 2017 with the Broncos, Titans, Steelers, and Ravens. He recorded a total of 68 tackles with 2 forced fumbles. That should give him a serious advantage against some pretty bad offensive lines in the XFL. If he can last that long in the NFL, the XFL should come to him pretty easily. He along with Kyle Queiro and Nick Temple should be the biggest playmakers for the Dragons’ linebacking unit.
Queiro is a 25-year-old who played his collegiate ball at Northwestern as a defensive back. He was too slow to play in the secondary, so Queiro tried out at linebacker with the Cowboys. It was enough to reach the practice squad in 2018, but Queiro was unable to make the active roster and was cut in 2019 after playing in the preseason. Queiro had a productive college career, having recorded 132 tackles, 9 TFL’s, and 8 interceptions. We’ll see if all Queiro needed was some more experience at linebacker to reach his full potential in the pros.
The most experience Temple has had in the pros on an active roster is in the CFL with the Blue Bombers in 2016 and 2019. He was primarily used on special teams following a promising career at Cincinnati, where he had a total of 281 tackles, 32 for a loss, 11 sacks, and 3 interceptions. Temple could be a dark horse to look out for on the Dragons’ defense. He is a small linebacker at only 5’10”, which explains why he couldn’t find a spot on a 53-man roster in the NFL, but the XFL might be a perfect fit for him. Expect former Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Nyles Morgan, to be a key contributor for the Dragons as well.
Jacquies Smith and Stansly Maponga will be counted on to be important pass rushers on the edge for the Dragons. Smith has been on the 53-man roster of an NFL team for six years, as he compiled 43 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 13.5 sacks. He was a starter for 18 games in 2014 and 2015 with the Buccaneers, though his career tailed off thereafter. Smith was the Raiders in 2018, but was released after suffering an injury to his Achilles heel.
Stansly Maponga, who was a beast at TCU, has some NFL experience as well. The native of Zimbabwe was selected in the 2013 draft in the fifth round by the Falcons. He was ultimately signed to the practice squad, but was activated to the active roster. Mopanga played in 14 games between 2013 and 2014, as he accumulated 8 combined tackles and a sack. The Dragons will be dependent on Smith and Maponga to cause pressure off the edge in 2020.
Will Sutton will be responsible for providing a push in the middle of the line. Sutton should be a familiar name to Chicago Bear fans, as he spent three years from 2014 to 2016 on their 53-man roster. He started 18 games and was a decent contributor for the Bears. Sutton racked up 60 tackles and did enough to clog up the middle of the defensive line. The defensive line should be a fairly good unit for the Dragons, especially at home where they’ll get a big boost from the home crowd in Seattle.
The Seattle Dragons look awfully like a hit and miss team in the XFL. They may look like a contender one week and a pretender the next. It will be important not to get too excited by really good performances by the Dragons because there’s a good chance they could regress the next game. Expect plenty of inconsistent quarterback play by Brandon Silvers. He’s likely not going to be able to exploit the good defenses in the XFL, but should look good against the bad units. I think they have a better team than the LA Wildcats and maybe the Tampa Bay Vipers, but it’s going to be tough to compete against top contenders like the Houston Roughnecks and DC Defenders in 2020.
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