The Seattle Sea Dragons are breathing fire once again. This time, the XFL franchise is under the leadership of coach Jim Haslett. On February 19th, the Sea Dragons will kick off their XFL season against the DC Defenders.
Now that both drafts are behind us, the Seattle Sea Dragons have hit the ground running in training camp. Talent certainly abounds in Seattle’s lair. Let’s take a look at who the team drafted, and which players should make an impact in 2023.
Ben DiNucci is one of the more intriguing names in the XFL. DiNucci spent the last few years with the Dallas Cowboys, as a backup/practice squad QB. While he’s flashed signs of talent in the big leagues, Ben hasn’t had his opportunity to lead a professional team.
That could all change now, with the Sea Dragons. DiNucci showcased his talents in college year after year. He was spectacular at James Madison, throwing for over 5,700 yards and 45 touchdowns in just two seasons. If DiNucci is handed the keys to June Jones’ offense, watch out.
Steven Montez is back with the Sea Dragons. He was called up to the Detroit Lions practice squad, but has since returned to the XFL. Montez did spend a couple of years in the NFL with Washington, but never saw any meaningful minutes.
With the right development, Montez is someone who can elevate any XFL offense. At Colorado, he was very inconsistent. At times, he was unstoppable – but in other moments, he struggled. He’s at his best when he scrambles – his elusiveness and mobility make him very valuable. We’ll have to wait and see how the XFL best suits Steven.
Brian Lewerke is another candidate. Lewerke played for Michigan State, and similar to Montez, has been quite inconsistent. Turnovers are an issue for Brian. Regardless, he has plenty of arm talent. He played in The Spring League in 2021, for the Alphas. Again, it was a mixed bag of good and bad. Heading into the season, it’d be expected for Brian to begin as a second or third string QB.
Brendan Knox is a name many will recognize. After a sensational career at Marshall, Knox spent some time with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, but ultimately failed to make the regular season roster. Knox will have an excellent opportunity to revive his career with the Sea Dragons.
Morgan Ellison, T.J. Hammonds, and Scottie Phillips make up the rest of the backfield. Ellison certainly has potential, performing quite well at both Southeastern Louisiana and Independence CC. If all goes well for Morgan in training camp, expect him to make an impact come February.
Independence RB Morgan Ellison is the KJCCC Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Hammonds has played as both a WR and RB in college, most recently at Arkansas. According to coach Jim Haslett, he will shift focus more to a role as a receiver. Phillips has NFL experience, spending time with the Houston Texans before injury effectively removed him from the team.
Without a doubt, Josh Gordon joining the XFL is huge. Gordon has been widely speculated by fans for years. Whether you like him or not, there’s no denying the absolute raw talent Gordon possesses. Josh has a knack for getting to the football, especially with his size. The XFL is a perfect landing spot for Gordon to revive his professional career.
Kevin Shaa, a WR out of Liberty University, was Seattle’s first pick in the draft. Shaa is a smaller receiver, so it makes sense that he hasn’t landed an NFL gig yet. That being said, Kevin is extremely talented. He averaged over 18 yards per reception in his final two years at Liberty, showcasing his 4.3 speed. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Shaa involved as a specialist, due to his quickness.
Blake Jackson is a name XFL fans will recognize. He played for the Houston Roughnecks in 2020, and put up solid numbers in June Jones’ system. Interestingly enough, he is being reunited with Jones in Seattle.
Currently, the Sea Dragons have a lot of receivers on the roster. Some will be cut before the season begins. With that in mind, every prospect they drafted has a lot of potential. Juwan Green, for example, has spent time with multiple NFL organizations – but has never made it past the practice squad stage.
Damion Willis is another NFL alumni who is now searching for footing in a professional setting. Willis signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019, and did get a bit of action during the regular season. Since then, he’s been on a few practice squads, but hasn’t cracked a 53 man roster.
The rest of the WR room is made up of: Tayvian Cunningham, Imoni Donadelle, McLane Mannix, Kelvin Mcknight, Jahcour Pearson, Jaylon Redd, Jamar Washington, and Jordan Veasy.
The Sea Dragons have two tight ends on the roster right now: Ben Beise and Joshua Perkins. Perkins is a big name for the XFL to grab, formerly playing for the Atlanta Falcons. While Joshua was undrafted coming out of college, the Falcons snagged Perkins, who ended up being part of the team that made it to the super bowl.
Beise is coming off an excellent season in Wisconsin-River Falls. He racked up 358 yards in 2021, averaging almost 10YPC. Between Perkins and Beise, the Sea Dragons have plenty of talent at the TE position.
The Seattle Sea Dragons have 13 offensive linemen currently on the roster:
The Sea Dragons picked up two of the USFL’s best offensive linemen. Ryan Pope won the Championship this season with the Birmingham Stallions. Meanwhile, Jared Thomas was an All-USFL center for the New Orleans Breakers. Both should perform well for Seattle, if they stick with the team.
Defensive linemen abound on Seattle’s roster at the moment. During both drafts, they signed:
Curtis Weaver was slated to play with Seattle as well, but signed a futures contract with Minnesota. With that in mind, there’s quite a few talented defensive linemen on this roster. Not all will stick for the regular season, but Seattle has a lot of options.
Niko Lalos is an exciting prospect for the team. Lalos has spent plenty of time in the NFL over the past few years. In fact, he was picked up by the New Orleans Saints after being drafted by Seattle. Now, he returns to the team with the NFL season complete. Lalos was a standout at Dartmouth College, getting better with each passing year.
Austin Faoliu and Daniel Joseph are potential stars. Both have been on NFL practice squads over the past couple of years, but haven’t gotten over that hump quite yet. Joseph was slated to play for the BC Lions of the CFL, but opted to pursue a gig with the Buffalo Bills. Now, Daniel looks to the XFL for the next chapter of his career.
Antwuan Jackson is a rookie out of Ohio State, with no professional experience quite yet. His raw skill set brings a lot to the table, if he can smoothly transition from college to the pros.
Emmanuel Smith is looking to regain his footing after a rough couple of years. Smith has played for multiple NFL teams – and won a super bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career in 2021. We’ll have to see if Smith can turn things around in the XFL, all he needs is the opportunity.
Hailing from Idaho, Tre Walker turns to the XFL for his next professional opportunity. Walker was unbelievable at Idaho, racking up 338 tackles through four seasons. He had a short preseason stint with the Washington Commanders in 2022, but was let go before the season began.
Similar to Smith, Jordan Evans simply needs a chance to jump start his professional career. Evans spent five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, and played quite well during that time. He ended up tearing his ACL in 2021, and hasn’t been the same since. Hopefully, the XFL can provide Evans footing to get back on track.
16 Flashback to 2016 when Jordan Evans picked off Skyler Howard for an 80 yard pick-six in the beat down of West Virginia. pic.twitter.com/4ns2zBvq1J
The rest of the LB core is comprised of: Joe Beckett, Clarence Hicks, Tuzar Skipper, and Jaylin Thomas. Skipper has NFL experience as well; playing for the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Chris Jones is the type of corner who could dominate in the XFL. Jones has been around the block in the NFL, playing for multiple organizations. He’s played in almost 30 NFL games, providing him with plenty of professional experience. In college, Jones racked up five interceptions in four seasons for Nebraska.
Jaguars have private workout with Nebraska CB Chris Jones. Sandalwood high school grad whose physical style reminds us a lot of Jalen Ramsey. @Joneschosen1 pic.twitter.com/AgXbvNFgJ7
Antoine Brooks, Linden Stephens, and Reggie Robinson are all prospects with a lot of promise. Each has spent time with NFL teams, and played at a high level during their college years. Brooks totaled 237 tackles in just 44 games for Maryland over four years.
Kareem Orr has a Super Bowl ring under his belt already, having been on the Los Angeles Rams roster when they won it all in 2022. While Orr didn’t see a ton of playing time during that run, his NFL tenure will most definitely have an impact in the XFL. If he sticks with the team, his leadership could prove to be very useful in the locker room.
Shabari Davis is capable of doing damage as well. In his career at Southwest Missouri State, he was phenomenal. Davis posted almost 100 tackles, alongside eight interceptions. Keep an eye on Davis as kickoff quickly approaches.
SEMO has under 200 yards of offense but took the lead on Murray State thanks to this pick six by Shabari Davis. Stay for the end to see Davis get leveled by a teammate in celebration. pic.twitter.com/qBBBmRXbYd
Qwynnterrio Cole, Roger Cray, Bryce Thompson, Rojesterman Farris, Alijah Holder, Kendall Karcz, Zafir Kelly, Alex Thomas, and Mykeal Wright make up the rest of the roster. As with every other position, some cuts will be made before the season begins. With that in mind, there is a lot of talent here. Seattle will have their work cut out for them in cutting down their DB’s.
The Sea Dragons will have Brandon Ruiz as their kicker. Ruiz hails from Mississippi State, with a long kick of 44 yards in college. His long snapper will be Thomas Fletcher, out of Alabama. Fletcher was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 2021 draft, but was later waived before the 2022 season.
Cameron Nizialek serves as the team’s punter. Nizialek is a name spring football fans will be familiar with, as he punted for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF.
The Seattle Sea Dragons are an interesting team heading into 2023. The roster itself is constructed quite well, with dynamic playmakers across the board. Ultimately, it will come down to whether or not Jim Haslett, June Jones, and the rest of the coaching staff can develop the right chemistry.
Whatever the final record may be, the Sea Dragons will no doubt be a fun team to watch. They will kick off their season on February 19th, in DC against the Defenders. We can hardly wait.