Watching some of the Scouting Combine and the XFL this weekend made me wonder what, if anything, can you learn about a player in the XFL when they are basically playing against practice squad players at best? If you see a defensive lineman who dominates, how do you decide if that may translate to playing against NFL offensive linemen? – Ed Thomas/Washington, IA
Nick:It's not that difficult at all. You bring that "defensive linemen" in for a workout or even sign him to the training camp roster. If he continues to dominate against the guys you've got, you either worry about the players on your roster that are getting beat, or feel like you've stolen a good player. It's no different than signing the MVP of the league last year and putting him on the roster to return punts and play receiver. Two preseason games later, he's taking his pads off at halftime because he's already made the roster and ends up making the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. I'm not saying they're all going to be like KaVontae Turpin, but he's a great example that there is some talent in that league.
Kurt: I would think scouting the XFL is a bit similar to scouting prospects from smaller colleges. Guys may light it up at schools in non-Power Five conferences, but how do you know they can make the significant jump to the NFL? Tyler Smith (2022) and Reggie Robinson (2020) were both drafted out of the University of Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference. One was able to take the next step. One couldn't. But that's the job of the team's scouts, to find these diamonds in the rough. Just look at last year and KaVontae Turpin. Here's a guy who went from actually playing football in Poland in August of 2021, to attending Dallas' training camp in August of 2022, to playing in the Pro Bowl just this past February. Amazing. So while the odds of something like that happening again are pretty low, you can bet the Cowboys' scouting department will still be keeping an eye on what talent might be available in the XFL. As they say, no stone unturned.