The XFL was finally able to complete a full season after their re-boot attempt failed during the pandemic of 2020. Eight clubs competed this year. The XFL Championship Game will be played Saturday, May 13 at a neutral site.
With a league full of football players, this year has seen great development for these guys. Not only do they have more tape for NFL and CFL scouts to view, but stats that are more current.
There are many of these players who will become training camp members of numerous teams. Under XFL rules, athletes may be signed by NFL and CFL teams beginning May 15. The Cleveland Browns should take a hard look at some. Here are three to consider:
LB Pita Taumoepenu – Vegas Vipers
Taumoepenu (6’-1”, 245 pounds) is a menace in the pass rush. He tied for the lead in the XFL in sacks with 7.5 and had 8 tackles for loss along with 26 total tackles.
His Combine numbers were pretty good where he ran a 4.67 in the 40 and finished second in the 3-cone drill, had a 28.5” vertical jump and hit 9’4” in the broad jump.
After a stellar career at Utah and an appearance in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl All-Star game, he was drafted in the sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He signed a rookie deal for four years at $2.54 million with a $145,444 signing bonus. Taumoepenu played two seasons with San Fran and played in six games with zero starts. On the last cut down in 2019, he was released.
He then played for four NFL clubs with five game appearances mostly on special teams and several practice squad designations.
At the University of Utah he played two seasons with 45 total tackles, 16 starts, one fumble recovery, 15 tackles for loss and 13 sacks including nine in his senior year.
Taumoepenu was named the 2023 XFL Defensive Player of the Year. He would add to the competition in the linebacker group which appears to be Cleveland’s weakest position group.
DE Jordan Williams – San Antonio Brahmas
You want a player who seems to always be around the player with the ball. Then select Williams who is a tackling machine.
Williams (6’-4”, 276 pounds) led the league in total tackles with 89 in just 10 contests. He is not a huge sack guy and in fact, was called upon to blitz. But he is a run-stopper and a very good coverage backer. He also led the XFL in tackles for loss with 12.
He is a very intelligent player having made the SEC Academic Honor Roll two years while he was with the University of Tennessee. Williams played all four years with 29 starts. His stats included 84 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and four sacks. Except for a broken wrist in his senior year, Williams has been durable. He was invited to the NFL Combine.
Williams went undrafted in 2015 and then signed with the New York Jets and spent time on their practice squad before the Miami Dolphins picked him up where he played in one game before being placed on their practice squad. He then spent three seasons with the New York Football Giants plus one with the Tennessee Titans before the XFL.
He runs a 4.98 in the 40.
QB Jordan Ta’amu – DC Defenders
Yes, the Browns have four quarterbacks already under contract. But what if Deshaun Watson was to become injured this season?
Josh Dobbs has a total of two NFL starts with zero wins. He has only thrown 85 passes in real games. The third QB, Kellen Mond, has played in one NFL game with zero starts and has tossed three passes. And then the franchise drafted UCLA signal-caller Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
Last year, Dobbs was the starter for the Titans final two games. All they had to do was win one game, then lost the first. With a playoff berth on the line, Dobbs fumbled the season away in the final game.
Therefore, ask this question: if Watson was to become injured, which of these greenies do you want to step in and guide all this offensive talent?
Perhaps a veteran free agent? Injury-prone Teddy Bridgewater is available. C.J. Beathard? The well-traveled Josh Johnson perhaps? 38-year-old Joe Flacco remains unsigned. Nick Foles is looking for a gig.
By the Browns signing Ta’amu, at least he has been battle tested and played for the best team in the XFL so he is a winner.
Ta’amu would not be deer in headlights, but would simply slide into the role he spent all spring playing. Is he still a developmental quarterback? Of course. But so are the other three. Perhaps more so.
He does not make many mistakes. His stats include 143 completions on 229 passes for 1,894 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three picks.
Ta’amu’s interception total was the lowest among XFL quarterbacks which threw for more than 150 passing attempts. Ta’amu fits the Browns offense nicely in that he is a very good runner when flushed or on planned rushing plays. He had 298 rushing yards and scored three additional touchdowns.
He ranked seventh in the league in rushing, third in passing yards and second in total offense with 215.2 yards per game.
Plus, he was named the XFL Offensive Player of the Year and placed his team into the championship game with more stats to come.
Ta’amu went undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2019. He then spent time on the practice squad of five NFL clubs. He was also the starting QB for the St. Louis Battlehawks before the pandemic shut down their season. He played for the Tampa Bay Bandits last year. Both are XFL teams.
Cleveland needs a dependable backup going into Week 1. Ta’amu is exactly that. Nobody is saying he is the quarterback of the future for the Browns. He would become the safety net now.
Want to watch?
2023 XFL Championship Game
Saturday, May 13, 8:00 pm (Eastern)
DC Defenders 10-1-0 (#1 seed) vs. Arlington Renegades 5-6-0 (#4 seed)
Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas
ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, Sirius XM
Former Browns playing in the title game:
DC: K Matt McCrane, DT Gabe Wright, DC/secondary - Coach Gregg Williams