The Seattle Dragons began Tuesday by getting a quarterback, Brandon Silvers from Troy, then used their first two of 30 picks in the XFL draft to take running backs from the San Antonio Commanders of the short-lived Alliance of American Football that folded earlier this year.
Taking running backs with the top picks wasn’t necessarily the plan, nor was taking four former Seahawks (five if you count practice squad) in the draft of skill-position players, offensive linemen and defensive front seven.
“It wasn’t like they played for the Seahawks and we’ve got to get them,” said Jim Zorn, coach and general manager of the Dragons.
The biggest name, especially around here, was receiver Kasen Williams. The former Skyline High School of Sammamish star, who played at UW and then with the Seahawks, was taken in the seventh round of the skill-position phase.
Other former Seahawks taken were receiver Keenan Reynolds, the former Navy star QB who was taken in the fifth round of the skill-position phase; tackle Isaiah Battle, selected in the first round of the offensive-line phase; and defensive tackle Taniela Tupou, who went to Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett before playing at UW.
Williams caught 159 passes in four seasons with the Huskies, then played in two games for the Seahawks in 2015 (one reception for 8 yards and one rush for 5 yards) and one game with them in 2016. He played in seven games with Cleveland in 2017, starting twice and finished with nine catches for 84 yards.
He was watching the draft intently, as teams drafted 10 players in each of the three phases.
“I was paying attention from the start of the draft, and this was the spot I wanted to be at,” said Williams, who has known Zorn for a few years. “I was relieved, honestly.”
So was Zorn, that Williams was still available in the seventh round.
“You just see that he wants to be on the field, he wants to play and he wants to compete, that in itself helped me and then he’s a local guy,” Zorn said. “He’s interested in being here and being part of the program, and that’s a huge plus. He’s got the ability, plus he’s local.”
With Seattle’s first pick of the skill-position phase, it took Trey Williams from Texas A&M, then followed three picks later by taking his AAF teammate, Kenneth Farrow from Houston. Both played for Dragons offensive coordinator Mike Riley with the Commanders.
Dragons director of player personnel Tony Softli called them 1A and 1B when asked to assess them.
“We’re darn glad to have both of them,” Softli said. “Super dynamic players.”
Williams, who rushed for 1,343 yards at Texas A&M, was Farrow’s backup for the Commanders. Williams spent time on the regular-season roster of the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts during the 2015 season. He got into two games with the Colts, rushing for 12 yards on two carries.
Williams rushed for 205 yards on 40 carries for San Antonio.
Farrow rushed for 2,975 yards at Houston, fourth most in school history. He played in 13 games for the San Diego Chargers in 2016, starting twice. He rushed for 192 yards on 60 carries and caught 13 passes for 70 yards. He rushed for 372 yards on 106 carries with San Antonio. He was named the league’s offensive player of the week when he rushed for 142 yards against Birmingham.
“We felt getting the running backs that we did will complement Brandon (Silvers),” Zorn said.
After getting the running backs, Seattle took receiver Fred Ross from Mississippi State with its third pick in the phase, then former Texas Tech All-American tight end Jace Amaro with its fourth selection before taking Reynolds.
Ross has a school-record 88 receptions (for 1,007 yards) as junior at Mississippi State and is the school leader in career receptions with 199.
Amaro was a second-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 2014 after catching 106 passes for 1,352 yards as a senior at Texas Tech. He played 14 games for the New York Jets in 2014, starting four, and had 38 receptions for 345 yards.
Reynolds finished his Navy career with an FBS record 88 career touchdowns, and 4,559 rushing yards. He is one of four players at Navy to have his number retired, along with Heisman winners Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino, and Napoleon McCallum.
Reynolds spent time on the Baltimore Ravens roster in 2016 and had two stints on the Seahawks roster last season, but does not have an NFL reception. The Seahawks waived Reynolds at the end of August this year.
The Dragons used the second overall pick in the offensive-line portion to take Battle, who played at Clemson. Battle, 6-7 and 310 pounds, was a fifth-round supplemental NFL draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 2015. In 2017, the Seahawks traded for him and he spent the first couple of months of the season on the active roster.
In the eighth round, Seattle picked tackle Jordan Rose from Idaho, who played at Freeman High School in Rockford, southwest of Spokane. In the ninth round, the Dragons took guard Robert Myers from Tennessee State, who was with the Denver Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50 after the 2015 season and was on the Seahawks’ practice squad in 2016.
In the defensive front seven phase, Seattle used its first-round pick (No. 3 overall) to take defensive end Stansly Maponga from TCU. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and played two seasons for them. Tupou, who played in the Seahawks’ 2016 opener at fullback, was taken in the seventh round of the defensive front seven draft, and Zorn said he was pleasantly surprised Tupou was still available.
Former Seahawks running back Christine Michael was drafted in the second round by the St. Louis BattleHawks.
Cornelius Edison, an offensive lineman from Curtis High School in University Place who played at Portland State, was taken by the Houston Roughnecks with No. 7 overall pick in the offensive-line draft. Former UW Husky defensive lineman Elijah Qualls was taken in the third round of the defensive front seven draft by the DC Defenders.
The draft will continue Wednesday with teams drafting 10 defensive backfield players, then 30 players at any position.
Phase 1: Skill positions
Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy (assigned)
1. Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M (7)
2. Kenneth Farrow, RB, Houston (10)
3. Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State (23)
4. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech (26)
5. Keenan Reynolds, WR, Navy (39)
6. Evan Rodriguez, TE, Temple (42)
7. Kasen Williams, WR, Washington (55)
8. John Santiago, WR, North Dakota (58)
9. Cam Clear, TE, Texas A&M (71)
10. Malachi Jones, WR, Appalachian State (74)
Phase 2: Offensive line
1. Isaiah Battle, T, Clemson (2)
2. Venzell Boulware, G, Tennessee (15)
3. Dillon Day, C, Mississippi State (18)
4. Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor (31)
5. Quinterrius Eatmon, T, Florida (34)
6. Michael Dunn, T, Maryland (47)
7. Kirk Barron, C, Purdue (50)
8. Jordan Rose, T, Idaho (63)
9. Robert Myers, G, Tennessee State (66)
10. Craig McCorkle, T, California, Pa. (79)
Phase 3: Defensive front seven
1. Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU (3)
2. Nick Temple, LB, Cincinnati (14)
3. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State (19)
4. Tenny Palepoi, DE, Utah (30)
5. Jacquies Smith, DE, Missouri (35)
6. Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas (46)
7. Taniela Topou, DT, Washington (51)
8. Danny Ezechukwu, DE, Purdue (62)
9. Pasoni Tasini, DT, Utah (67)
10. Praise Martin-Oguike, DE (78)