Chicago is the sixth of eight cities we believe should obtain an XFL franchise. This is the final city picked solely because of its status as a major media market. It would have been in the East, but Philadelphia was too enticing to pass up. Chicago is the key that seemingly unlocks the Midwest for the XFL, giving the league access to an extraordinarily important base of fans and providing a home for numerous Midwestern players who would otherwise have awkward geographical fits on teams. Chicago is the second of four teams in the West Division.
This blog post is the sixth installment of an eight-part Nachmany Football series on our newly created XFL Blog in which we will try to create rosters for each team. The only way for the XFL to succeed is for its teams to bring in high-quality, marketable talent to play in the league.
In a recent long-form column, we laid out a roadmap to success for the XFL. If you want to read that piece, it provides an exhaustive analysis of the league’s potential pitfalls and opportunities for success, and you can check it out here. As it pertains to this series, we lay out eight cities in the United States where it would make sense to place a team, as well as identifying a talent pool that would make sense from the standpoint of recruiting.
Below is a roster from across the spectrum of recommended talent for the league: NFL free agents, star college football players who will not be eligible for the NFL (and therefore compensation), top-flight international and U.S. rugby players, and former service academy football players (Army, Navy, and Air Force). We tried to place players where they have some sort of tie to the geographic region, but if that was not possible, we looked for the best fit given their personality or background. For NCAA players, we list in parenthesis the class year they would forgo to prepare for XFL play during the fall of 2019.
Continuing on the topic of NCAA players, raiding the college ranks USFL-style is the perfect way to generate buzz and bring in some of the top talent in football – the fact that these college players are not paid, despite their play generating billions of dollars in broadcast revenue, is a significant market gap. Imagine if the XFL started poaching Heisman winners before the NFL even had a crack at them.
After looking at the roster, we will discuss the makeup of the team. Make sure to follow our parent Twitter account @NachFootball and our XFL blogging account @XFLBlog, where we will be posting this, so we can continue the conversation. Also, subscribe to our Nachmany Football YouTube channel for video content throughout the football year.
QB Hunter Johnson (NCAA Junior)
RB1 J.K. Dobbins (NCAA Junior)
RB2 Denard Robinson (NFL Free Agent)
WR1 A.J. Jenkins (NFL Free Agent)
WR2 Donovan Peoples-Jones (NCAA Junior)
WR3 Jordan Lynch (NFL Free Agent)
TE Tony Moeaki (NFL Free Agent)
LT Mike Adams (NFL Free Agent)
LG Garrett Gilkey (NFL Free Agent)
C Rashawn Slater (NCAA Junior)
RG Hugh Thornton (NFL Free Agent)
RT Kenyon Green (NCAA Freshman)
EDGE A.J. Epenesa (NCAA Junior)
DT Jerel Worthy (NFL Free Agent)
DT Ra’Shede Hageman (NFL Free Agent)
EDGE Zach Harrison (NCAA Freshman)
LB Garrett Bender (USA Rugby)
LB Andrew Jackson (NFL Free Agent)
LB Jacob Phillips (NCAA Junior)
CB Senquez Golson (NFL Free Agent)
FS Josh Furman (NFL Free Agent)
SS Jeffrey Okudah (NCAA Junior)
CB Josiah Scott (NCAA Junior)
Clemson’s Hunter Johnson is an Indiana native, and he comes home to cash in on XFL money while barred from compensation in the NCAA as a junior. He leads an offensive unit that includes Michigan legend Denard Robinson and Ohio State freshman extraordinaire J.K. Dobbins in the backfield. Another Michigan man, Donovan Peoples-Jones, puts this offense over the top. This is a dangerous unit chock full of explosive playmakers.
Defensively, the Chicago team boasts a few key NCAA players as well, from Kansas’ A.J. Epenesa to Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State. Andrew Jackson at middle linebacker will lay the wood and be an instant fan favorite, while the interior defensive line is among the best in the league with Jerel Worthy and Ra’Shede Hageman. This squad can run base 4-3 like no one else and will be tough to run against.