The biggest takeaway from this season for the Las Vegas Vipers is that they aren’t too far off of making the playoffs in the XFL. The team was in most of their games this season, with a majority of their losses within one possession. Vegas decided to part ways with head coach Rod Woodson once the off season began, which has left some mixed reviews. A lot of the players were fond of Coach Woodson, and I personally think that he should have been given at least another year. The team only lost one player to the NFL with Tight End Brandon Dillon signing with the Washington Commanders on a 1 year, $870,000 deal. The rest of the team will remain intact, aside from new acquisitions.
The biggest bright spot for the Vipers was clearly the defense, which featured XFL Defensive Player of the Year LB Pita Taumoepenu. Taumoepenu was a monster in the pass rush with 7.5 sacks on the season. Vegas had an impressive 18 takeaways on the season as a team. The team struggled a lot offensively at times, going through three quarterbacks in the 10 week season. After trial and error with now XFL Champion Luis Perez and former NFL quarterback Brett Hundley, they found their guy in Jalan McClendon. While he wasn’t perfect, McClendon did more than the previous two quarterbacks did and will likely be their guy for the 2024 season.
With offensive skill players like Jeff Badet, Geronimo Allison, and Martavius Bryant, it makes sense as to why the Vipers targeted the trenches in this draft. The team trusts their guys in the skill positions, and are hoping that with some more time they will perform to their standards. Six of their ten selections were on the offensive and defensive line.
NICHOLAS AMOAH | OFFENSIVE LINE | UC DAVIS
Amoah spent time with the Chicago Bears as an UDFA before ultimately joining the Vipers in the rookie draft. Nicholas earned first-team All-Big Sky honors in 2022, including the Big Sky Phil Steele Offensive Linemen of the Year award.
DESMOND BESSENT | OFFENSIVE LINE | BUFFALO
Bessent took part in the Chicago Bears rookie minicamp before joining the Vipers. Desmond earned third team All-MAC honors in 2022. At 6’7” 305 lbs, Bessent has a great frame to play tackle for the Vipers, which is where he started 13 games for Buffalo last season.
DWAYNE BOYLES | LINEBACKER | SOUTH FLORIDA
A surefire starter for multiple years with the Bulls, Boyles is a tackling machine. In 2022, Boyles accumulated 113 total tackles including 10 for a loss. He also had 3 forced fumbles, a sack, and an interception in 12 games for the team. Boyles would go on to participate in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp before ultimately being drafted by Vegas.
Chukwumezie played 5 seasons at Northern Arizona, accumulating a total of 96 receptions for 1,629 yards and 12 touchdowns in 28 games for the team. He participated in the New York Giants rookie minicamp before being drafted by the Vipers. For a team with as good of a wide receiver room as the Vipers, Chukwumezie will have to fight to earn his roster spot.
JAMARE EDWARDS | DEFENSIVE LINE | JAMES MADISON
In 2022 for JMU, Edwards accumulated 44 total tackles, including 12.5 for a loss in 11 games for the team. He also added 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Edwards earned second team All-Sun Belt honors. Before joining JMU in 2022, he had played 5 seasons with Marshall.
In 2022, Fauatea had 22 total tackles including 11 solo tackles. He also added 2.5 sacks on the season. Fauatea was a part of the Cougars defensive line for 5 seasons from 2017-2022.
T.J. GREEN | RUNNING BACK | LIBERTY
Green’s best season at Liberty came in 2021, where he had 477 rushing yards on 75 carries. While the stats took a dip in 2022, he still put up great numbers on a lesser workload. He had 232 yards on 44 carries for Liberty.
ROBERT MITCHELL | OFFENSIVE LINE | NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL
Mitchell played at North Carolina Central for three seasons, appearing in 26 games. He earned MEAC Offensive Linemen of the Year in 2022, and is sure to help boost the Vipers offensive line.
DARRIUS NASH | DEFENSIVE BACK | UTAH TECH
Nash had 46 total tackles last season for the Trailblazers, including 28 solo tackles. It’s always nice to have a cornerback who can tackle in open space, which is exactly what Nash can do. Nash also added 2 interceptions and 6 pass deflections as well as a touchdown in 2022.
NAASIR WATKINS | OFFENSIVE LINE | LIBERTY
Before transferring to Liberty, Watkins played 5 seasons at Kentucky. He helped lead the Wildcats to a single season rushing record in 2019. After transferring to Liberty, he started in 12 of the 13 games last season.