XFL standouts to monitor for Bears
Laulile had a touchdown during the contest (Raymond Carlin - USA Today Sports)

XFL standouts to monitor for Bears

by - Correspondent -

ARLINGTON - NFL leagues have more avenues than ever before for scouting. While there is the traditional way of looking at college players, particularly from the most successful schools, the rise of the XFL and USFL creates another way of finding players that fit your team.

The added benefit of recruiting from these alternative leagues is that players get quality game film while NFL teams can get talented players for a lot less than they do in the NFL’s free agency since XFL and USFL salaries are so small compared to the NFL.

The USFL may not be starting up again until April, but the XFL kicked off on Saturday, February 18th, with the Vegas Vipers playing the Arlington Renegades. The Renegades won in the end in a 22-20 comeback. But, there were a number of standout players on both sides of the ball.

Arlington Renegades

The Bears need some people on the defensive line, and it turns out, that is what the Renegades needed to win. Defensive tackle Tomasi Laulile scored the first touchdown of the game for the Renegades with a pick-six; this play started the momentum turn that led to the victory. However, he did not make any other significant plays during the game but is someone to keep an eye on during the rest of the season. Someone who was a consistent presence, however, was linebacker Donald Payne.

Chicago needs a linebacker to step into Roquan Smith’s old position. Payne is someone that was all over the field for the Renegades in this game, leading the team in solo tackles (4), total tackles (5.5), and had shared a sack. In addition, he had another half-tackle for loss. It is the beginning of the season for the XFL, but he is someone to monitor for someone that the Bears could potentially look at picking up.

Realistically, the Bears need help at all levels of their defense. While the secondary performed better than the defensive line, Chicago struggled with injuries all of the 2022 season, capped off by losing All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson to a lisfranc injury. In addition, their rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon stepped up and proved himself as a player who can surely grow into a dominant starting cornerback. However, they still need some depth at that position. De’Vante Bausby had a solid performance today for the Renegades with a pick-six, as well as two solo tackles and one of them for loss. He showed himself as a presence not only in the secondary but in the backfield and who can make solid tackles. This is something that the Bears really need. As long as Bausby keeps up this level of consistency, he is someone the Bears can potentially pick up as well.

Vegas Vipers

Being truthful, the Vipers had a lot better of a day on offense than the Renegades did. Both touchdowns for the Renegades were scored by their defense, while all of the touchdowns for the Vipers were scored by their receivers. Despite having former NFL wide receivers, Martavius Bryant who primarily played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Geronimo Allison who spent a few seasons with the Green Bay Packers before spending his last NFL season with the Detroit Lions, the Vipers relied the most on receiver Jeff Badet who had six receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

Badet spent two seasons in the NFL, one with the Washington Football Team and the other with the Las Vegas Raiders. However, he never had a reception in an NFL game. Badet was the top receiver for the Vipers and helped them get a 14-3 lead going into halftime. All of his receptions were in the first half. In the second, he was only targeted once, which was probably part of why the Vipers had difficulty moving the ball. In fact, following Badet’s second touchdown, the Vipers would not score again until there were 12 seconds left in the game. It cannot be understated how much the Bears need a wide receiver, so if Badet is able to keep up what he did today, and have his quarterback throw him the ball in the second half, he is a player the Bears should surely look at acquiring during this offseason.

Despite giving up a lot of points in the second half, the Vipers still had some standout players on defense. Middle linebacker Maximilian Roberts had a perfectly-timed strip sack on Renegades’ quarterback Drew Plitt to give the Vipers back the ball. He finished the game with 2.5 total tackles.

The player who recovered the strip sack, linebacker DJ Calhoun, also had quite the day for the Vipers. On top of the fumble recovery, he led the team in total tackles with six and had half a tackle for loss.

It may still be the beginning of the season, but it is not too early for the Bears to start seeking out players that would fit with their team, particularly players that other NFL teams might want to go after.

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