The Orlando Guardians ended their XFL season with concerns all around the team, but with some hope. Orlando finished 1-9 and fourth in the South. Many find the season failures coming from the Coaching staff, and also the offensive line struggles through the first few weeks.
The season began with QB Paxton Lynch at the helm. For the four games Lynch started he finished 0-4. The Orlando Guardians knew they needed a change and brought in QB Quinton Flowers, who was with the Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020.
Amidst of all of this, QB Quinten Dormady was accused of sharing the playbook with opposing teams. He was released, and the organization was surrounded by a hot mess of PR issues and headaches. After the Claims were ruled false, they allowed Dormady to return, as they faced off against the 0-4 Vegas Vipers.
Although Vegas pulled away with it, this game looked more promising as they scored a season high of 32 points and Dormady finished with 22-25 attempts, 256 yards and 2 passing touchdowns. Things looked up from there. Week 7 was approaching and the Guardians were 0-6 – while they were scheduled to face the DC Defenders who were the hottest team in the XFL with the record of 6-0.
The Orlando Guardians ended up winning the first game of their season, the score being 37-36. This was easily the game of the year, at least for fans of the Guardians. The sky seemed to be the limit as, Dormady had six total touchdowns. Unfortunately, this would be their only win. Despite finishing with such a poor record, we saw a different version of Orlando down the stretch – one that gave fans hope.
XFL 2023 Rookie Draft
As the team is looking forward to season two, the Guardians are searching for the right guys to replace those lost. There are many holes to fill, as WR Charelston Rambo was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Additionally, TE Jordan Thomas signed to the Carolina Panthers. Let’s take a closer look at what the Orlando Guardians did with the 2023 XFL Rookie Draft.
Jermey Cooper | Offensive Linemen | Cincinnati
Cooper brings a lot to the table. Going into this draft it was almost guaranteed that Orlando would go heavy around the offensive line, and they did exactly that. Cooper is a 2023 NFLPA Bowl Participant. In 2022 he made eight straight starts and appeared in 12 games. In 2021 with Cincinnati’s infamous playoff run he started every game at left guard. He was a standout on the offensive line that helped Cincinnati to average the ninth-most yards per play (6.71) in the country.
I like the pick here, as I find him to be an underrated prospect, and someone the team can build around on the offensive line. The OL’s play dramatically improved ever since the first few of weeks of the season. He is going to pair well with Guard Jordan Ighofose.
Kosi Eldridge | Linebacker | Texas Tech
Eldridge is easily one of the best picks of the Guardians draft. He brings toughness to the already loaded linebacker room with LB Terrance Plummer and Terrance Smith.
Eldridge in 2022 had over just 90 total tackles, with 60 being solo tackles. He also reeled in 1 interception and 2 pass deflections, alongside 4.5 tackles for loss. Kosi was one of Texas Tech’s most reliable defenders in 2022. He started in all 13 games, and also played over 130 snaps on special teams. There’s a lot to love about this pick.
Terry Hampton | Defensive Line | Arkansas
With the Orlando Guardians having an underwhelming pass rush, Head Coach Terrell Buckley knew he had to draft some power for the trenches. TerryHampton appeared in 13 games with Arkansas, starting 3 where he had 25 tackles, 7 being solo. He had 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. He also registered one pass deflection.
Hampton enrolled at Arkansas State University early on in his career, played through 2018-2022 which he ended up transferring to Arkansas for the 2022-2023 College football season. Terry brings size and strength to the table as he is listed as 6’1. Hampton in 2021 was selected to the Athlon Sports Preseason Fourth-Team All-Sun Belt conference.
KD Hill | Defensive Line | Mississippi
Hill was one of more sneaky players in this XFL Rookie Draft. In 2022 he was selected to the 2022 Wuerffel Trophy Watch List, which honors College Football’s most impactful players in the community. Hill had just under 60 total tackles with 15 being solo.
He had 4 tackles for losses and 1 career sack for 14 yards. Hill also registered 2 pass deflections in the 2022 season for the Ole Miss Rebels. Like I said, pass rush was a glaring need going into this draft, so this pick is great for Orlando if he signs.
Jarrett Horst | Offensive Line | Michigan State
As we go down this list, you can see a pattern as the Guardians have selected a lot of Linemen. Horst is quite easily the best offensive linemen in this draft as he started 34/35 games for the Michigan State Spartans in his collegiate career. Horst is somewhat familiar to Orlando as he was invited to play in the 2023 Hula Bowl in Orlando.
In 2021 he earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades by both the coaches and media. Horst was also picked in the USFL Collegiate Draft by the Michigan Panthers as the first overall pick of the entire event. He provides versatility as he can play right and left tackle. He is also very lengthy as he is 6’6 and 300 pounds, which is exactly what Orlando ordered with this pick.
Darius Joiner | Defensive Back | Duke
Joiner is an electric corner. Coming out of Duke, he was considered a steal for anyone that landed him.
Joiner is a:
– 2022 Third Team All-ACC selection
– 2022 College Sports Communicators Academic All-American Second Team pick
– Academic All-ACC selection
– FCS All-America honoree in 2021.
Darius Joiner is one of the top defensive backs of this XFL Rookie Draft. At Duke in 2022, he had 97 total tackles, 62 of which were solo. He also compiled had 8 tackles for loss. Joiner wreaked havoc on opposing offenses with 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections and 2 forced fumbles with one recovered himself. He reminds me of current CB CJ Holmes, and the two will look outstanding on the field together in Guardian Green.
The Guardians went with another linebacker, snagging Jacquez Jones out of Kentucky. Jones played 52 career games and started 38 of them.
Jones totaled 305 total tackles in his career, alongside 17.5 tackles for loss, which is remarkable. On top of that, he added four sacks, six pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. That is an insane stat line. Jones was elected one of seven team captains in 2022. He was featured on Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List, and Preseason Third-Team All-SEC (Coaches).
Keyron Kinsler is an interesting prospect as he is 5’11, weighing in at 185lbs. Fun fact, Kinsler is also from Florida, as he grew up in Micanopy. Kinsler with the Alcorn State Braves had 75 tackles, with 41 being solo tackles.
In addition, Keyron racked up 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, one interception and 2 pass deflections. He improved tremendously ever since his first year at Alcorn State. Excited to see Kinsler suit up with a defense that needs assistance.
Brock Martin | Defensive Linemen | Oklahoma State
Martin had an impressive career at Oklahoma state as he had 146 total tackles, which included an impressive 39 TFL. On top of that, Brock posted 16 sacks, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble and 5 fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
His accolades include 4 First Team Academic All-Big 12, 2021 Honorable Mention Big 12 Defensive Linemen of the Year (Coaches), 2021 First Team All-Big 12 (Coaches), Second Team All-Big 12 (AP), 2022 Second Team All-Big 12 (Coaches), 2022 Season Team Captain (voted by teammates), & 2022 First Team Academic All-Big 12.
As you can see, Brock brings unreal football IQ to the table and overall is an excellent football player.
"He's a special Cowboy and he always will be."
Mike Gundy telling the story of Brock Martin missing only one game with a dislocated elbow that should've had him on the shelf for six weeks. pic.twitter.com/mYbtrUGdDt
LaQuinston Sharp | Offensive Linemen | Mississippi State
And last and but not least, the Orlando Guardians selected LaQuinston Sharp. Sharp is an intriguing prospect coming out of Mississippi State. In 2021 he was an All-SEC Honorable mention (PFF), 2021 SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (Kentucky), 2022 SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week (Memphis), 2022 SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week (Arizona), and 2022 SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (Ole Miss).
Those are major accomplishments to achieve in the SEC. In 2022, Sharp appeared in 12 games with 12 starts. Sharp joins the team as one of the many Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Generally speaking, the Orlando Guardians put together an impressive set of draft picks. They’ve filled multiple holes with some young athletes who will have a chance to prove themselves at the professional level.
Did you feel the Orlando Guardians had a successful XFL 2023 Rookie Draft? Let us hear your thoughts on the XFL Rookie Draft, by leaving a comment down below or joining the conversation on Discord!