XFL Power Rankings: Preseason

By Gabe Salgado

Super Bowl LIV is in the books and now the NFL heads into its offseason, but there’s still more football to come. This weekend the relaunched XFL will finally begin it’s much talked about 2020 campaign. With the failures of both the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and the Arena Football League taking place in 2019, the XFL will be viewed under the thinnest of microscopes.

Until the league kicks off this weekend all we have to go on, for now, are training camp practices, personnel moves, and media coverage. But with that alone, we already have a slight idea of what we can expect at least during the opening week. Here are the early XFL power rankings.

Preseason XFL Power Rankings

1. Dallas Renegades

The Renegades have generated the most preseason hype over these last few months. It started when they hired Bob Stoops, the former Oklahoma Sooners head coach, to lead this franchise as head coach and general manager. This will be the first head coaching job at the pro level for Stoops, and his name was the first one to be announced when the league revealed its head coaches late last year. The hope is that the success he generated at Oklahoma will translate over to the XFL.

Stoops is the only one among the XFL’s eight coaches to win a college football national title (2000), and he has the most total championships among this group as well (12). In order to make this transition a smooth one, Stoops will have three former Sooners, including quarterback Landry Jones, on his roster. He also hired Hal Mumme, the godfather of the spread offense, as his offensive coordinator. The Renegades will make their home at Globe Life Stadium, the former home of MLB’s Texas Rangers, which has been renovated for this team. Stoops has a 14-8 record in the Dallas-Fort Worth area thanks to the Red River Showdown with Texas, which is played at the Cotton Bowl every year. Put all of this together and the Renegades have the most pressure on them this season.

2. Tampa Bay Vipers

Some oddsmakers are taking the over on the Vipers winning seven games this season, and for good reason. The team has acquired a total of 14 players from Florida colleges and has plenty of firepower on offense. Quarterback Aaron Murray, running back Quinton Flowers, wide receiver Antonio Callaway, and tight end DeAndre Goolsby headline a team full of playmakers. And with respected play-caller and quarterbacks coach Marc Trestman at the helm, it’s easy to see why Vegas is high on the Vipers.

3. DC Defenders

This is the first head coaching position for noted offensive mind Pep Hamilton. Hamilton brings more than 20 years of experience to the Defenders, and through the years he’s worked with quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, and Shea Patterson to name a few. Now he’ll have the chance to work with Ohio State legend Cardale Jones. DC also is stacked at the running back position, and when you mix Hamilton’s coaching acumen with a multi-talented roster, the Defenders — on paper at least — are already primed for success.

4. New York Guardians

It’s hard to count out a team that’s coached by a Super Bowl winner, and that’s exactly what the Guardians have in Kevin Gilbride. He won two Super Bowls (XLII and XLVI) as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, and now he’s tasked with making the Guardians New York’s next winning team. New York has been hungry for a winner for quite some time, but the biggest question that the Guardians will have to answer will be who starts at quarterback. Former Penn State signal-caller Matt McGloin was assigned to the team in the pre-draft phase, but within the last couple of weeks, Gilbride made a trade to land Luis Perez, who made a name for himself in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) last year. Whoever gets the nod will have plenty of playmakers to throw the ball to.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats

There’s no doubt that Winston Moss has put together quite a talented roster for the XFL’s second L.A. franchise. But as the league’s only defensive-minded head coach, he’ll have to win potential chess matches against seven of the top offensive minds in this game. During his final two seasons as the assistant head coach of the Green Bay Packers under Mike McCarthy, the Packers defense gave up 25.0 ppg in 2018, and 24.0 ppg in ’17. But with Los Angeles thriving as a football market again, the fan support should be there to ease the pressure.

6. Houston Roughnecks

Any team coached by June Jones is bound to put up a ton of points on offense. Defense, however, is usually the concern. During his last two seasons at SMU, Jones’ defensive units gave up 30 or more points in 11 of 22 games. Hopefully the roster he’s assembled with the Roughnecks can get the job done.

7. St. Louis BattleHawks

Head Coach Jonathan Hayes learned from one of the best in Marvin Lewis. Hayes was Lewis’ right-hand man with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003-18, but this won’t be an ordinary head coaching position. Hayes and the BattleHawks will be tasked with restoring and rallying a disenfranchised fan base that has seen their hearts get broken by two NFL franchises (Rams and Cardinals). They’ll also be tasked with assembling the city’s first winning football team since 2004. Hayes has quite the docket on his table.

8. Seattle Dragons

As Jim Zorn looks to give Seattle another successful pro football franchise, the odds aren’t in his favor. The Dragons are projected to win just three games this season with question marks surrounding the quarterback position. Brandon Silvers’ only pro experience came with the AAF’s Memphis Express in 2019 where he shared snaps with Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger. Despite Silvers throwing for 799 yards and four touchdowns, the Express collectively posted just a 2-6 record before the league folded.

Then there’s B.J. Daniels who threw for 8,433 yards with 52 touchdowns at South Florida from 2008-12. The NFL tried to convert Daniels into a running back, wide receiver, and kick returner with limited success. He bounced around from one practice squad to the next for the most part from 2013 to 2017, although he does have eight-regular season appearances (with Seahawks and Houston Texans in 2015) on his resume.

Daniels signed with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League in 2018 but was released after just one month. He then tried his hand in the AAF with the Salt Lake Stallions but wound up on injured reserve and didn’t play a game. With Silvers having limited pro experience and Daniels last throwing a meaningful pass in 2012, what Zorn is able to get from his quarterbacks will determine just how successful the Dragons’ initial season ends up being.

Click here to read the original article in Athlon Sports by Gabe Salgado.

— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He’s also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He’s a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.