The XFL Draft was divided into 5 phases, each comprised of separate position groups. Phase 1 featured offensive skill position players, phase 2 contained offensive linemen, phase 3 consisted of defensive front seven, and phase 4 included defensive backs. The final phase was open for any players not drafted in the first four rounds, as well as special teams players who did not have a separate phase. Additionally, each team was assigned a single “tier one” quarterback by the league administrators.
Phases 1-4 included ten rounds each, while phase 5 included 30 rounds. In total, each team drafted 71 players, which will be shaved to 52 by the start of the season in February. Phases 1, 2, and 3 took place on Tuesday, October 15 and Phases 4 and 5 took place on Wednesday, October 16.
The Wolverines were well represented in the inaugural draft. Running back De’Veon Smith was drafted in the third round of Phase 1 by the Tampa Bay Vipers. The Vipers also drafted fellow Wolverine William Campbell in the tenth round of phase 2. The St. Louis Battlehawks selected guard Juwann Bushell-Beatty in the ninth round of phase 2 and the Seattle Dragons drafted cornerback Channing Stribling in the fifth round of phase 4.
In addition to the six Wolverines selected in the draft, two other Michigan alumni were included in the XFL’s 1000 player draft pool. Running backs Berkley Edwards and Ty Isaac appeared in the draft pool but were not drafted by any XFL team.
The Big Ten conference was well represented in the draft. All Big Ten schools had at least one alumni drafted by an XFL franchise. Michigan and Maryland led the conference, each with six representatives in the fledgeling league. Notably, two of the eight “tier one” quarterbacks, Cardale Jones of Ohio State and Matt McGloin of Penn State, hail from the Big Ten. Additionally, former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook was selected by the Houston Roughnecks in the first round of phase 1.
This is not Vince McMahon’s first attempt at creating a spring football league. In 2001, McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment partnered with NBC Sports to create the original XFL, a flashier, yet less polished alternative to the NFL. Due to poor viewership, the league folded after only a single season. The 2020 reboot of the XFL is entirely owned by McMahon. The only Wolverine to play in the 2001 iteration of the XFL was offensive tackle Trezelle Jenkins.
Although there is uncertainty about the long term success of the XFL, for now, the league will provide Michigan alumni with a second chance at playing professional football and allow Wolverine fans to watch old favorites.