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NFL Draft Hopefuls That Could Be Superstars in the XFL in 2021

| March 15, 2020 7:00 am PDT
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The NFL Draft gives college football prospects an opportunity to fulfill their dream every year.

Whether that is making serious coin or competing at the highest level of football — or both — getting drafted brings players one step closer to making their goals a reality.

For most, however, the draft is another painful reminder that the top decision-makers overlook some interesting talent. Some players will slide into the later rounds and won’t make NFL teams, while others won’t be drafted and may never be given a fair shake.

This is where the XFL comes in and quickly becomes a serious launchpad for many NFL hopefuls. Guys like Phillip Walker, Cam Phillips, Nick Holley, and others are showing that every week during the XFL season.

Walker has been so dominant, in fact, that he’s seemingly already a lock to win the 2020 XFL MVP.

Not everyone will enjoy the success Walker has, but anyone who fails to latch on with an NFL team following the 2020 NFL Draft could at least have the chance to do so.

With that, here’s a look at 9 2020 NFL Draft prospects that could play in the XFL next year.

Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

Speed kills at all levels of football, and Tate certainly has it at the quarterback position.

The Arizona star was a dual-threat menace for the past four years, as he dazzled as a runner with 1,411 rushing yards and 12 scores in 2017 before showcasing his upside as a passer in 2018 (26 touchdowns to just 8 picks).

Tate isn’t the most accurate passer and was not invited to this year’s NFL Combine, so there is reason to believe he will free fall in the draft.

That said, his skillset and upside are basically tailor-made for the XFL game. He can either try to make it as a dual-threat passer, or he could consider a position change to running back or wide receiver.

Rodney Smith, RB, Minnesota

Smith is old for an NFL Draft prospect, as he enjoyed an unreal six seasons in college thanks to injuries. That injury history will also understandably bog his draft stock down, but Smith’s talent and production when healthy are undeniable.

A big reason why the Golden Gophers had such a great year in 2019, Smith capped his lengthy NCAA career with 1,163 rushing yards and eight scores in 13 games.

Smith can do it all as a running back, but injuries and supposedly suspect pass-catching chops could have him slide down the draft. If so, he could seek work in the XFL, where his dynamic running ability could make him the best running back the league has seen yet.

Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

Wolverines fans will gripe over Patterson’s inaccuracy and poor showings in big moments, but there’s no denying his athleticism and general talent.

Patterson was a budding star at Ole Miss, where he showcases nice mobility and a penchant for the big play. His transfer to Michigan delivered more team success and better numbers, but accuracy issues and a general lack of size have scouts sour on his NFL prospects.

He wanted a shot to give it one more go at Michigan, but he opted to turn his sights to the pros.

You can debate if Patterson is ready for the next level, but he still has the mobility and aggressive nature to be a hit in the XFL. If he instantly flames out of the NFL, he could find himself earning a starting job for Vince McMahon’s league.

Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss

Easily one of the best prospects heading into the 2020 NFL Draft that few are even acknowledging, Watkins may have worked his way off of the XFL radar with a blazing 4.35 40-yard dash time.

Watkins really didn’t start turning heads until this past season, though, but 1,178 yards on 64 grabs will do that. The deep speed and playmaking ability are obvious, but Watkins could have his work cut out for him in terms of competition of play and general consistency.

Of everyone on this list of 2020 NFL Draft prospects headed for the XFL, he may be the one I’d fear will make it in the NFL immediately. If not, however, his blazing wheels could make him a superstar in the XFL.

Reggie Corbin, RB, Indiana

Corbin is another college football prospect who is a bit long in the tooth, having spent the last five years at Illinois. He also may have a tough trek to the NFL, seeing as he lacks ideal size and wasn’t insanely productive in college.

That said, Corbin is incredibly explosive and has the wiggle you like to see in next-level backs. He also was plenty productive when healthy and given the opportunity at Illinois.

If things don’t work out for Corbin in the NFL as a change-of-pace option, he could slide into a huge role and thrive in the XFL.

Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia

If you look at Perkins on paper, he screams NFL prospect. He has the size, athleticism, escapability, and arm strength to develop into something special at the next level.

The major issue, however, is a lack of consistency. Within the confines of one game, Perkins can work from flat-out magical to completely inept.

Accuracy, timing, and poise can all be in question, but you can’t teach his awareness and open-field rushing ability. His cons probably make an NFL future unlikely in 2021, but that could pave the way to XFL stardom.

Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming

Most of the star college football players gracing this list are standout offensive players, but Logan Wilson is a defensive prospect to watch.

The stud Wyoming linebacker looked terrific at the NFL Combine, posting strong individual athletic numbers. Combining that with his tape and college production (94+ tackles in four straight seasons), he just might have a chance to crack an NFL roster next year.

Quality linebackers often slip through the cracks, however. Should Wilson not latch on with an NFL team in his first try, he could showcase his ability with the XFL in 2021.

Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah

Another guy who didn’t even get a sniff from the 2020 NFL Combine, Huntley offers dual-threat upside thanks to nice size, a strong arm, and elite athleticism.

Huntley was never able to fully showcase how dynamic he can be as a runner, but he was highly accurate in his final season of college ball (73.1%) and has the skillset needed to mature into a quality player at the next level.

He’s already been woefully overlooked by the NFL, however, so it’d take a miracle to get him a real shot in 2021. Instead, he may be a top option for the 2020 XFL Draft.

Marquez Callaway, WR, Tennessee

Callaway is a classic example of the NFL Draft prospect that you can’t judge solely by their college numbers alone.

This is a guy who has never caught more than 37 balls or amassed more than 635 receiving yards in a single season, but he still flashes insane upside due to his big-play ability.

More than that, Callaway can high point the ball, offers a solid catch radius, and often makes the impossible grabs look routine. He still has some consistency issues to iron out, and his 40 time at the 2020 NFL Combine was a little disconcerting, but there is star potential here.

The size, speed, and playmaking are all there. Callaway may not turn it into an NFL job right away, but he could take his talents to the XFL to ensure he gets a second shot.


I’m sure there will be even more prospects that aren’t drafted or get drafted and end up being cut. Every single one of them flashed ability at the college level, and if things break just right, perhaps they have a chance to latch on with the XFL.

The XFL isn’t perfect, but it’s honestly a solid product, and it has the chance to benefit where the NFL gets things wrong.

The players listed above all have the talent to give the NFL a go, but if they can’t catch on with an NFL franchise, they just might have what it takes to develop into the next XFL star.

You can’t bet on that yet, but you sure can bet on the XFL. Just make sure you’re using the best XFL sportsbooks before placing any wagers.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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