XFL commissioner Oliver Luck expects that the fledgling professional football league’s inaugural draft on Tuesday and Wednesday will be marked by a lot of fans saying, “Oh, I remember that guy.”
“Maybe some of the guys will have faded from memory over the last couple of years, but you are going to be saying, ‘I remember that guy, and he was a pretty good player,” Luck said.
The league boasts a draft pool of 1,000 players, and Luck says “virtually all of them have NFL experience.”
“It’s really hard to make a 53-man NFL roster,” Luck said. “There’s 10,000 Division I players, not to mention Division II and III. The competition for a roster spot is incredibly intense. That’s one reason, along with the incredible physicality, that careers are so short.”
The first XFL draft will be held over two days with a 10 a.m. ET start time each day. Because the eight teams are filling 71-person rosters, teams only have 90 seconds to make a pick.
Each team will also be assigned a quarterback before the start of the draft.
DRAFT POOL: A look at every player available in the XFL draft
Another major difference in the XFL is that it will be split into five different phases. First, teams will draft skill players (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends). Then comes offensive lineman. The third phase allows for the drafting of defensive linemen and linebackers and will be followed by secondary players. The final phase will be the open draft, which includes specialty players, including kickers, punters and long snappers, plus remaining players from other categories.
“You could look at it as five separate drafts,” Luck said.
Teams will select 10 players in each of the first four phases, then fill out their roster in the last phase.
“Not every GM will draft a tight end or fullback. Some will. Some won’t,” Luck said. “So that fifth bucket has lots of flexibility.”
Name players who will be available include former wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who played parts of three seasons with the Detroit Lions; quarterback Connor Cook of the Oakland Raiders and NFL veteran running back Trent Richardson. Richardson played 46 NFL games and was in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football League several months ago.
The XFL has signed former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones. The best guess is Jones, who played at Oklahoma, would end up with his former college coach, Bob Stoops, the Dallas Renegades’ head coach and general manager.
Luck said the XFL considered several different draft formats, but decided on this current format because it offered a chance for parity and efficiency in the process and transparency for fans.
“These five groups, five phases … we thought that would lead to the best possible situation in terms of parity,” Luck said.
The XFL considered, then rejected, the idea of including a formal geographic element to the roster-building. In other words, no team is getting a player just because he is from the team’s area.
“The reason is that there is a lot more football players coming out of Florida and Texas than coming out of New Jersey and Washington state,” Luck said.
But Luck expects some GMs to factor in the idea of getting players familiar to the fan base. “Jim Zorn, as an example, has been up in Seattle forever,” Luck said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a pick or two for a kid from Washington State or University of Washington or Oregon. And he may just know some of the guys. He might have a relationship with them.”
Luck said he believes fans will be paying attention through social media, but no one knows for sure what the interest will be.
“I know at least,” Luck said, “that there will be 1,000 people in our draft pool following closely.”
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Is a national and foreign correspondent based in D.C. She files investigative reports and covers breaking news on a range of topics, including corruption, police shootings, etc. Before joining the TimWorld in 2018, she worked at the Miami Herald. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University.