A few notable names not on the roster: QB Geremy Hickbottom, WR CJ Johnson, DB KJ Sails, DB Nydair Rouse. These players still have the possibility of returning to DC in phase two of dispersal drafts or in free agency.
Let’s take a look at the DC Defenders phase one draft picks.
QB Deondre Francois, Orlando Guardians
What better way to start than with the man of the hour, Deondre Francois.
Francois finished this past season 20/39, with 140 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Quinten Dormady, who is still available, was Orlando’s starter for most of the season while Francois played a situational QB role, similar to D’Eriq King’s role in DC.
Francois currently sits as the only QB on DC’s roster, setting up an interesting next few weeks with phase two of the dispersal drafts on the horizon, along with free agency immediately following phase two.
It is currently unknown whether Jordan Ta’amu or D’Eriq King will be returning to DC in 2024.
EDGE’s Trent Harris & Tim Ward, Houston Roughnecks
The DC Defenders first round selection, Trent Harris, is coming off a stellar 2023 XFL season where he led the league with 9.5 sacks in ten games. The former Roughneck began his 2023 campaign with a four-sack game against the Guardians, setting the tone for the rest of his season. Additionally, fellow Defenders draftee Tim Ward also contributed with two sacks of his own in the same game, combining for six total. Ward finished his season with 5.0 sacks in just six games played.
Ward and Harris will bring speed to the edge, which DC lacked at times in 2023. Davin Bellamy totaled 5.5 sacks last season, bringing power to that position. While the team seemed to underutilize edge rusher Andre Mintze, who finished with 4.5 sacks in limited action. A conversation for another day.
Harris and Ward should expect to start week one, barring anything significant.
Sidenote on Davin Bellamy, recent rumors have indicated he may take his talents to the CFL. Sources can confirm the CFL interest, mentioning a six figure contract offer in the CFL.
Developing: The Toronto Argonauts are showing heavy interest in DE Davin Bellamy, per source.
Bellamy is the only athlete to earn First Team Defense honors in both the #USFL & #XFL, most recently with the @XFLDefenders.
Tisdale comes from a loaded Seattle defensive line where he played in just the final two games of the regular season, contributing two sacks. Tisdale also played in the North Division Championship game against DC.
At 6 ‘5, 285 lbs, Tisdale has the ability to be used all along the defensive line for Gregg Williams.
DL Donovan Jeter, Houston Roughnecks
True nose tackle, Donovan Jeter, played his college ball at Michigan where he played twelve games in his senior season, racking up 24 total tackles (2 TFL). With the current roster, Jeter (6 ‘3) would walk into camp as the second-biggest nose tackle, slightly shorter than Fadol Brown (6’ 4). Fans must keep in mind that these rosters will fluctuate tremendously between now and March 30th.
LB Jordan Evans, Seattle Sea Dragons
Jordan Evans fits the lean, athletic archetype of linebackers that the Defenders staff continues to pursue. The DC inside linebackers group currently includes Francis Bernard, Reggie Northrup, and Momo Sanogo. Which suggests Evans must find a way to stand out in order to see the field.
All-XFL safety Deontay Anderson checks all the boxes when it comes down to size and ability for your last line of defense.
Anderson, who played all ten games for Vegas in 2023, finished with 52 total tackles, along with an interception, and a forced fumble. Listed 6 ‘1, 218 lbs, Anderson’s broad range and length jump off the tape immediately.
Sparks joins as another piece of the substantial secondary overhaul in DC. After giving up the most passing yards in 2023, DC was in desperate need of a change on the backend and Sparks will look to play a key part in the change.
Last season, Sparks played in seven games producing 31 tackles (3 TFL), and an interception in his limited time. Sparks joins former secondary mate, Deontay Anderson, as the newest Vegas to DC additions.
DB Elijah Blades, Houston Roughnecks
Blades is an interesting case, as he was only recently introduced to the XFL when the Roughnecks selected him during the XFL Combine rights draft this past August. Blades is a JUCO product that finished his career at Buffalo, where he had 27 total tackles and four pass breakups in his final year.
OL George Moore, Arlington Renegades
Moore was drafted in last year’s XFL supplemental draft by Arlington, and went on to start five games for the Renegades in 2023. Moore’s championship background will provide even more depth to a stout DC offensive line that gave up the least amount of sacks last season, with only ten total.
OL Jean Delance, Houston Roughnecks
The DC Defenders are expected to acquire Renegades OT Jean Delance via trade, per @uflsifn. The trade is expected to involve a pick swap.
Delance was selected in the dispersal draft by Arlington, after being a Roughnecks LOI earlier this offseason.#UFL
Delance enters as another LOI player with no prior experience in either the XFL or USFL. Delance was selected by Arlington on dispersal draft day, who then traded Delance to DC.
Delance will have his work cut out for him with the current offensive lineman group including names like D’Marcus Hayes, Matt Carrick, Liam Fornadel, Lamont Gaillard, and Michael Maietti.
Looking at this draft in a preliminary way, the Defenders seem to have done an impressive job filling holes from last season, while also bolstering already loaded positional groups. Overall, they followed their draft model from 2022/23 and will look to expand on that in phase two when USFL players become available to draft.
What are your thoughts on this UFL Dispersal Draft process? Which players do you expect to see get picked up by the DC Defenders? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!