DC Defenders

Josh Johnson is one of many XFL standouts that should get a look by the NFL

DC Defenders

When the XFL decided on Thursday to cancel the remainder of the 2020 season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the league also allowed its players to seek NFL opportunities right away.

The timing is perfect for many of these XFL stars, as the NFL's free agency legal tampering period begins on Monday at 4 p.m. The new league year begins at that same time on March 18, where players are allowed to sign with NFL clubs. 

Although the XFL season lasted all of just five weeks, there are multiple players that proved more than enough to show they deserve NFL consideration. Here are five players that should get some NFL looks...

1. Josh Johnson, QB, Los Angeles Wildcats

The former Redskins quarterback played in just four games, but it didn't take long to notice Johnson's ability. The longtime NFL veteran threw for over 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions, posting the highest quarterback rating in the league.

When Johnson returned to Washington, D.C. in Week 3, the quarterback led the Wildcats to a blowout victory over the Defenders, 39-9. In that contest, he threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, including this dime to wide receiver Tre McBride. 

Johnson's been around the NFL for many years; he's been a part of nearly a dozen of the league's organizations. He turns 34 in May, so any NFL team that may bring him in is likely not expecting the Qb to compete for the starting gig. But Johnson proved he's a reliable signal-caller who can get the job done as a backup.

 

2. P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks

Through five weeks of the season, Walker was the runaway XFL MVP. The signal-caller led Houston to an undefeated 5-0 record with a league-high 15 touchdowns and 1,338 passing yards. 

Prior to joining the XFL, Walkedspent two seasons on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, where he formed a solid relationship with former Colts QB Andrew Luck. Luck told his father and the XFL commissioner, Oliver Luck, about Walker's abilities, and the league signed him in September. The gamble paid off, as Walker became the league's biggest star.

Walker's 5-foot-11 frame may be his biggest downfall for any NFL team interested in his services. But the dynamic quarterback showcased his ability to be a threat with both his arm and his legs, something that has become the new norm at the NFL level.

At age 25, Walker still has plenty of football ahead of him. Now, it's up to an NFL team to give him the opportunity at the biggest stage fo the sport.

3. Cam Phillips, WR, Houston Roughnecks

Every QB needs their go-to wide receiver, and for Walker, that was Cam Phillips.

The former Virginia Tech star led the XFL in receptions (31), receiving yards (455) and touchdowns (9), forming the best one-two punch in the league. The XFL had a handful of former NFL wide receivers, and Phillips outplayed every single one of them.

Phillips, 24, is still young; there are a few wide receivers in this year's draft that are his age. At 6-foot, 200 lbs., he has a solid frame and can play both outside wide receiver positions.

After going undrafted in 2018, Phillips was signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad for much of the season. He never made it to the active roster, and was released during roster cuts in 2019. Signing Phillips would be a low risk-high reward move for many NFL teams.

4. Kenny Robinson Jr., Safety, St. Louis Battlehawks

Robinson's story is much different than many XFL stars; he's one of the few that still has NFL Draft eligibility. And he almost certainly will hear his name called during April's draft.

The safety was a star for the West Virginia Mountaineers in 2018, but was released from the program in June due to academic fraud. Since he was not in good standing with his former university, that prevented him from transferring to another Division I school. He joined the XFL, and became the first player in the league to have NFL Draft eligibility.

In five games with the Battlehawks, Robinson recorded two interceptions, including this fantastic grab against the Defenders. The XFL was either going to boost or lower his draft stock, and the safety took full advantage of his second opportunity.

5. Cavon Walker, DT, New York Guardians

 

Walker was a rare bright spot on a Guardians team that struggled for much of the XFL season.

The 284-pound defensive tackle is a little undersized to be a three-down player in the NFL, but he had no issues getting in the backfield in the XFL. Walker led the league in sacks (4.5) and quarterback hits (9) while finishing second in the league for tackles for loss (5). 

At age 25, Walker is still young and in great football shape. He won't be an every-down player in the NFL, but he sure could help many teams as a rotational piece on the inside.

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