XFL stars that could help the Bears defense
|Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 9:25 AM- -|
With yesterday being the first day XFL players could sign with the NFL, we focused on the offensive side of the ball as to who could potentially help the Bears. As expected, both P.J. Walker and Jordan Ta’Amu inked deals yesterday with Walker going to Carolina and Ta’Amu heading to KC. Later, that day, one of the best defensive players in the game signed with the Saints as the XFL leader in interceptions Deatrick Nichols is now in the Big Easy.
There is still plenty of players from the XFL left that deserve a chance, but outside of Nichols, there is not a whole lot to chose from in terms of defensive players. With that being said, here are a few of the XFL stars on the defensive side that could help the Bears in 2020.
DERRON SMITH S (Dallas Renegades): With Ha-Ha Clinton Dix now with the Cowboys and Eddie Jackson fresh into a new three-year extension, Jackson will be searching for his third running mate in as many seasons at the safety position. That is where Smith could come in handy. Smith is no stranger to the NFL, getting drafted in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2015.
Since then, Smith has bounced around the league a ton, while also playing in the AAF in 2018 before joining the Renegades this season. His 16 tackles and one interception are certainly not going to wow you in the numbers game, but he is a nice depth piece to have on your roster. He comes with NFL experience and would come at a cheap price, which would help the Bears add depth without crippling the cap.
JAMAR SUMMERS CB (NY Guardians): The remaking of the Bears defense continued this offseason when they cut ties with long time corner Prince Amukamara. That leaves a void on one side of the secondary. Yes, the Bears still have Kyle Fuller and brought in the CFL’s leader in interception Tre Roberson this offseason, but they still need more depth at that position.
Summers has come close to making an NFL roster in the past, spending training camps with both the Lions and the Steelers. The result was never an NFL spot, but Summers was able to go to the AAF and XFL the past two seasons to showcase what he can do. His 16 tackles and one interception are decent numbers, but his ability to play solid in the coverage side of things stood out the most. He can also be a core special teams player which is something not enough teams have.
KENNY ROBINSON S (St. Louis Battlehawks): As mentioned above with Smith, Jackson will need a new running mate at safety this season, and Robinson would be a perfect choice as he could even start. The biggest snag regarding him, as opposed to any XFL player, is that Robinson would need to be drafted by Chicago instead of flat out signed.
In a league of second chances, Robinson was given a second chance of a much different degree as he was the only college eligible player on an XFL roster. Dismissed from West Virginia University because of team violations, Robinson elected to join the XFL instead of sitting out an entire football season to transfer to another school.
Robinson led the Battlehawks with two interceptions on the season and showed tons of promise in terms of adjusting to the speed of play. He could be the first of many to follow in this direction instead of players waiting for the transfer protocol to kick. Given that he does still have college eligibility left, Robinson is not eligible to sign as a Free Agent, but he is likely to attend the draft and get selected. Lots of projections have him as a mid-round or day two pick, which is where the Bears could steal him.
CAVON WALKER DT (NY Guardians): Speaking of adding depth, the Bears will continue searching for defensive line help now that Robert Quinn was signed as the new starter in town. Could Walker be on that list of options? Somewhat undersized for a lineman at 284 pounds, it didn’t stop Walker from having an impressive season for the Guardians this spring.
He was part of a New York defense that kept them in most games this season. Even with his lack of size, not only did Walker always find ways to get into the backfield, but he led the XFL in sacks with 4.5 and at least .5 sacks every game. Add that to his five tackles for loss and nine QB hits, and he was a nightmare to contain.
Should the Bears or anyone else take a flyer on him, it will be interesting to see if he remains at DT or moves to DE, given his lack of size. Either way, he was disruptive enough this season to earn some sort of camp tryout in the summer.
DEMARQUIS GATES LB (Houston Roughnecks): With Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith anchoring the LB position, the Bears are set in terms of talent, but that doesn’t mean they are set on depth. With Nick Kwiatkowski going to the Raiders, the Bears will need to replace there most valuable defensive reserve and would like to do so on the cheap for now.
Gates is a familiar name in the NFC as he signed with the Washington Redskins last season after dominating in the AAF. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t stick, finding himself a free agent once again and landing in the XFL. Once the season started, Gates proved to be a star once again, filling up the box score weekly.
His 32 tackles ranked tops on his team, while his two sacks, one interception, and three fumble recoveries put his overall skills on full display as he had a knack for finding the football. While he couldn’t breakthrough with the Redskins last year, don’t be surprised to see Gates earn another tryout this season. Paid with Mack and company, I think Gates could be a steal.
Other possible names to keep an eye on are Steven Johnson (LB), Anthony Johnson (DT), and Will Hill (S). Steven Johnson led the XFL with 49 total tackles, including six for a loss. Anthony Johnson finished the season with 2.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss and four QB hits. Hill finished out the season with two interceptions, two pass deflections, three QB hits, and 33 tackles. All of them would be low-risk depth options that the Bears could make work.