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XFL organizing series of Combine-style workouts for prospective players

NFL Combine - Day 5

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Defensive back Saivion Smith of Alabama works out during day five of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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As the XFL continues to move toward its inaugural season in 2020, the league has planned a series of “summer showcase” workouts that will help them identify prospective players.

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told PFT that each of the eight XFL cities will host a summer showcase where the league will invite about 100 players -- mostly former NFL, CFL or AAF players -- to work out. A handful of current college players will be there as well, and Luck said those players will be allowed to show the XFL what they can do this summer, and then potentially sign with the XFL after their college seasons end.

“We’re targeting about 100 players per showcase,” Luck said. “We think about 90, maybe even 95 of those are going to be guys with prior experience, and the remainder, a relatively small group, would be current college football players. . . . A college kid could come to our showcase, get all the testing, and not in any way put his eligibility in jeopardy.”

Luck said the XFL will begin signing players after the last summer showcase, which is on July 13. He said the XFL should have a good idea of which players are in its player pool by the time the NFL trims its rosters to 53 players at the end of the preseason, and those players will be distributed among the XFL’s eight teams at a draft that will take place in late September or early October. The XFL showcases are by invitation only and the league is not planning any open tryouts.

Although the XFL is willing to let the players who sign this summer leave for the NFL, once they’re drafted they’ll be expected to commit to the XFL. Last year the AAF allowed its top quarterback draft pick, Josh Johnson, to leave for the NFL, but Luck said the XFL wouldn’t do that.

“If a guy signs with us and then three weeks later, prior to our draft, has an opportunity to go to an NFL team, we’ll say, Take the opportunity,” Luck said. “After the draft, we’ll expect those players to stay. If they think they have an opportunity in the NFL they have to do that before the draft.”

Luck knows from his experience as the president of NFL Europe that there’s talent in professional football beyond the players on NFL 53-man rosters.

“No. 54 on down is going to be the heart of our draft,” Luck said. “I do think there are guys who have been in NFL camps, maybe are unlucky, maybe got hurt, maybe went to the wrong system, maybe they just were playing behind a couple All-Pro guys.”

The XFL’s summer showcases will include both Combine-style workouts and 7-on-7 work, and Luck said the XFL will be more interested in players who can play the fast-paced style the XFL wants than in players whose college experience makes them well known to local fan bases.

“We’re going to focus on the best players we believe are suitable for the kind of league we want to play, which is up-tempo, fast-paced,” he said. “I’m not sure we’re going to sign guys just because they have a big name. . . . We are not having any sort of geographical allocation.”

The first XFL game takes place the Saturday after the Super Bowl, February 8.