The Arlington Renegades are coming off of what I can only describe to be a “cinderella run.” If you would have told me before the playoffs that the Renegades were going to win the XFL championship, I would have called you crazy. A lot of fans were upset that the Renegades got into the playoffs despite the St. Louis Battlehawks having a 7-3 record in the north, while Arlington was only 4-6.
However, they really did prove everyone wrong. They made lightwork of Houston in the South Division Championship game, winning 26-11. They held the Roughnecks to only 236 yards of total offense, while Luis Perez had himself a field day. Perez finished that game with 289 yards and 3 touchdowns, and looked flawless. Following this dominant performance in the Divisional Championship, they went on to face the heavily favored D.C. Defenders for the XFL Championship.
D.C. was by far the heavy favorite, and rightfully so. Aside from one upset against the Guardians, they were flawless this past season, dominating their way to the championship game. Arlington seemed to play into being the underdogs, and they took care of D.C. 35-26. Arlington started off the game up 14-0, and they never looked back. Perez put on another masterclass performance, throwing for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. It’s really surprising that no NFL team picked up Perez after his dominance in the playoffs, but that is good news for the Arlington Renegades who are now set at QB for next season.
The biggest bright spot of this team was without a doubt the defense. As most of us expected with a Bob Stoops coached team. When looking at this defense, it was truly a collective effort, as the team only earned one All-XFL Defensive selection in Davonte Lambert. Quarterback play was a question mark all season long, up until the playoffs. Even after acquiring Luis Perez from the Vipers, Perez struggled up until the playoffs where he turned into the second coming of Tom Brady.
When it comes to skill positions, there wasn’t too much to be desired by the team. The Renegades leading receiver was tight end Sal Cannella, who just recently worked out for the Minnesota Vikings. De’Veon Smith scored seven touchdowns on the season, but only averaged 3.2 YPC. With all of that being said, let’s see how Arlington did in this year’s draft.
SY BARNETT | WIDE RECEIVER | DAVENPORT
Drafting a receiver makes complete sense for Arlington, who are lacking in that department. In 9 games last season, Barnett caught 53 passes for 694 yards and 4 touchdowns. Likely to line up in the slot, Barnett has the speed to bring some life to the Arlington offense as he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash.
CONNOR DEGENHARDT | QUARTERBACK | NEW HAVEN
While Luis Perez looked great in the playoffs for the Renegades, he still struggled during the regular season. With that being said, Arlington decided to bring in some depth at QB with Connor Degenhardt. I expect Degenhardt to backup Perez, but would not be surprised if he didn’t see some action at some point. At 6’6” 225 lbs, Degenhardt has an ideal frame for a quarterback. In 2022, Degenhardt threw for 2,251 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions through 11 games played.
AMI FINAU | DEFENSIVE LINE | MARYLAND
Finau played three seasons for the Terps, lining up at defensive tackle for the team. Across those three seasons Finau recorded three sacks, two forced fumbles, 87 tackles, and 13 tackles for loss. At 6’2” 320 lbs, Finau will be a solid piece in the middle of Arlington’s defensive line.
CHARLES HALL | WIDE RECEIVER | ARIZONA STATE
Hall played in 10 games last season for Arizona State, where he recorded 9 catches for 104 yards. Hall previously played both football and track and field with Virginia Union before joining ASU. Hall participated in the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp before ultimately being drafted by the Renegades.
JAMES JACKSON | OFFENSIVE LINE | SOUTH ALABAMA
James Jackson previously played for Mississippi State before transferring to South Alabama. Jackson played in the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate bowl. He would then go on to participate in the Buffalo Bills rookie minicamp. Jackson can line up primarily on the interior line, but he does have experience at center. He is going to add some much needed depth for Arlington.
Starting his collegiate career at South Carolina, he would join Ole Miss in 2021, and then finally Arkansas State in 2022. Lining up at right guard, he started all 11 games for Arkansas State last season. He participated in the New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp, and will add more depth on the interior line.
MERLIN ROBERTSON | LINEBACKER | ARIZONA STATE
Merlin Robertson played 5 seasons at Arizona State, and was an important piece of their defense. In 2022, Robertson recorded 83 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection. Robertson participated in both the Washington Commanders and Baltimore Ravens rookie minicamps. Robertson will likely compete for a starting job rather quick.
CHRIS WHITTAKER | LINEBACKER | INCARNATE WORD
In 2022, Whittaker appeared in 14 games for Incarnate Word. He would record 36 total tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss. He would also add 7.5 sacks, a pass deflection, and 2 forced fumbles on the season. Whittaker would participate in the Denver Broncos rookie minicamp before being drafted by the Renegades.
JORDAN WRIGHT | LINEBACKER | KENTUCKY
In 2022 for the Wildcats, Wright recorded 62 total tackles, 2 sacks, a fumble recovery, 3 pass deflections, and an interception. The third linebacker drafted by Arlington, it is clear that they wanted to make this position group a focal point of their draft.
Overall, the Arlington Renegades made some impressive moves to bolster the roster in hopes of repeating in 2024. Only time will tell, but this team is certainly not going away any time soon.
What are your thoughts on the Arlington Renegades XFL 2023 Rookie Draft selections? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!