With the merger of the XFL and USFL complete, the next step is to get the eight surviving teams ready for camp which starts on February 23rd. For the San Antonio Brahmas, that process started with getting a new coaching staff as their head coach from the 2023 season, Hines Ward, is out. The coach of the original Houston Roughnecks (not to be confused with the current Houston Roughnecks that played as the Houston Gamblers last year), Wade Philips; with his offensive coordinator AJ Smith, and his director of player personnel Mark Lillibridge, took over.
Next step was protecting 42 players from their current roster which will be covered in-depth after the Super Draft that will take place on January 15th here on Pro Football Newsroom. Today we look at the players they selected in the dispersal draft that took place last Friday where the Brahmas could take players currently on the XFL teams not surviving the merger which are the Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, Vegas Vipers, and Seattle Sea Dragons. Here’s the players fans can look forward to for 2024.
Starting on the offensive side of the ball and you’ll notice an immediate tread form. 18 of the 20 picks from the draft were Houston players although only 6 played a snap for them in 2023. The first name is Jaylen Samuels who was a 5th round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 and also spent time with the Texans and Cardinals and can double as a fullback if need be. He signed a letter of intent with the Roughnecks on December 8th of last year. The other running back was Brycen Alleyne who was the RB2 in Houston behind Max Borghi last season where he showed big play ability. Wouldn’t shock me at all if these were the top 2 backs in an already stacked backfield.
Free Agent Watch: RB Brycen Alleyne | @XFLRoughnecks@_ockb6 consistently made quality plays for Houston throughout the #XFL season. Averaged 4.5YPC in nine games, also making an impact through the air and on special teams.
WR Justin Smith (Houston) WR Kade Warner (Houston) WR Diuely Aristilde (Houston) TE Cody Latimer (Orlando)
At pass catcher, San Antonio added 3 wide receivers and a tight end. Justin Smith finished last season with the 5th most receiving yards on the pass happy Roughnecks with 232 but interestingly had the 2nd most snaps at outside receiver which might be the reason for bringing him on. They added Kade Warner who was a perimeter receiver for the Big 12 champion Kansas State Wildcats in 2022 before spending camp with the Buccaneers last season and signing a letter of intent on December 8th with Houston. Notably his dad is NFL hall of famer Kurt Warner. The last wide receiver is Dieuly Aristilde who’s had short stints in the CFL and with the Guardians before signing with Houston last summer. The most notable name in this list though is Cody Latimer – who years ago won a super bowl with Coach Phillips with the Broncos – but last year, he was the top tight end in the XFL. As a big slot style tight end, he will fit in perfectly in this new look San Antonio team.
WILD. The first touchdown for the Orlando Guardians comes on a pass from Paxton Lynch to Cody Latimer. Sean Davis fought for the pick, but it was ultimately ruled a touchdown.
The Brahmas added 2 offensive linemen to the mix which is surprisingly low for a team that had a below average offensive line last season but both of these additions could be notable impacts. Rashaad Coward is an interesting case as he joined the NFL in 2017 as a defensive end but switched positions in the league and bounced around 6 different franchises before signing with the Roughnecks on December 8th. The other offensive lineman is a know quantity in Alex Mollette as he was an All-XFL center last season for the Roughnecks. It will be interesting to see if he switches to guard with a center in Luke Juriga already in place.
DL Austin Edwards (Houston) DL Jalen Dalton (Seattle) DL Taron Vincent (Houston) EDGE Wyatt Ray (Houston)
Getting to the defensive side of the ball, the Brahmas added 3 Defensive Linemen and an Edge Rusher to this great defense. First is Austin Edwards who was on the Roughnecks reserve list all of 2023, Edwards was 5th round pick in the front seven phase of the 2023 XFL Draft. Next is Jalen Dalton whose NFL prospects were derailed with multiple season-ending injuries and a failed physical, Dalton signed with the Sea Dragons on October 30th. Taron Vincent is next, and he declared for the draft after 5 years at Ohio State and spent camp with the Rams before signing with Houston on December 12th, He is also the son of NFL executive Troy Vincent. The edge rusher they picked up is Wyatt Ray who has spent time on 8 different NFL teams over the past 5 years and signed with the Roughnecks on October 20th. A lot of NFL experience is being added to this defensive line.
They went heavy at linebacker and was able to add one of the most important Houston players from last season in Tavante Beckett. Beckett had the 2nd most tackles in the league (Only player better is current Brahmas linebacker Jordan Williams) and was a leader of a very solid Roughneck defense, he looks to do the same in 2024. They also added Nate Wieland who played in the first 2 games before having a season ending injury. Marvin Pierre was a Roughneck draft pick in the 2023 XFL Rookie Draft and spent some time with the Cardinals and Packers this offseason before signing with them on October 19th. Lastly, there is Omari Cobb who was actually drafted by the Brahmas last year but didn’t report and was added by the Roughnecks roster on October 20th, so he’ll get another opportunity to play in San Antonio.
CB Teez Tabor (Houston) CB Quincy Wilson (Houston) CB Kevin Tolliver II (Houston) S Jordan Mosely (Houston)
Finally, we have the secondary which includes 3 corners and a safety. The first corner is Teez Tabor who was a 2nd round pick by the Lions in 2017 before bouncing around to 6 other teams before signing with the Roughnecks on December 15th. Next is Quincy Wilson who was similar to Tabor, was a 2017 2nd round pick out of Florida, after being selected by the Colts, Wilson hit 4 other spots before signing with Houston on December 18th. The last corner is Kevin Tolliver II, who is another NFL journeyman with stints in 4 different cities since going undrafted in 2018. Tolliver was signed by the Roughnecks on October 18th. The only safety added to their roster was Jordan Mosely who unlike most of these additions, played for the Roughnecks in 2023. He saw 477 snaps last season and graded out well as a true box safety. Should expect Mosely to take over in that same role for the Brahmas this year.
Overall, it’s easy to see this list and think that the Brahmas are just going to be the Roughnecks in San Antonio but as we’ve detailed, a lot of these Houston additions were just the guys that were added in the offseason and very few ever played for the Roughnecks. They were able to add a lot of NFL journeyman types that gives San Antonio upside that they might not have had before. The Brahmas will be looking a lot different in 2024. Currently, they only have 12 players who played a snap for them in 2023 on the roster which shows how many changes were already made. With this draft the Brahmas certainly got better but so did everyone else so time will tell if they made the right decisions in this process.
What are your thoughts on these pickups for the San Antonio Brahmas? Will they be a Championship contender in the UFL? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!