XFL 2023: D.C. Defenders roster breakdown
February 2, 2023 / By Brayden Nazarian
A quick look at the Defenders' roster and depth chart before the season kicks off.
With the 2023 XFL season kicking off in just a few weeks, it's time to get familiar with the D.C. Defenders.
The Defenders are led by Head Coach Reggie Barlow, who spent the last six years as the head coach at Virginia State University. Barlow ended his tenure at VSU with a 34-16 record, earning a Northern Division title and CIAA championship in 2017. He was also named coach of the year that season.
Barlow's coordinators consist of Fred Kaiss and Gregg Williams. Kaiss has had success as the offensive coordinator for a number of different college teams, while Williams has an impressive NFL resume.
On November 15th, 2022 the Defenders named Eric Dungey as their starting quarterback. Dungey played four seasons at Syracuse University, where he became the school's all-time leader in passing yards with 9,430. He also ranks second all-time in completions and third all-time in passing touchdowns. Behind him on the Defenders' depth chart are D'Eriq King and Jordan Ta'amu.
The workhorse of the team is running back Abram Smith, who D.C. selected with the first-overall pick in the draft. Smith left Baylor University for the pros after the 2021 season, where he set the school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,601. Alongside Smith in the backfield are Ryquell Armstead and Pooka Williams.
On the outside, the Defenders have big-play threats in Simmie Cobbs, Jequez Ezzard and K.D. Cannon. Cobbs racked up a combined 132 receptions for 1,876 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Indiana University before declaring for the NFL draft. Ezzard accumulated 1,465 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two seasons at Sam Houston State University, while Cannon put up 3,113 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns in three seasons at Baylor. Jazz Ferguson and Josh Hammond are expected to compete for starting receiver jobs. Also, Briley Moore-McKinney will be the Defenders' No. 1 tight end.
As for the offensive line, T.J. Storment and Cody Conway will likely be their starting tackles. Ty Clary, Greg Long and D'Marcus Hayes should man the interior.
D.C.'s strong defensive line is led by Niles Scott and Jacub Panasiuk, who each recorded 150+ tackles and 15+ sacks in their college careers. Fadol Brown, Dame Ndiaye, Davin Bellamy and Joseph Wallace will see playing time behind them in rotation, among others.
Andre Mintze is expected to be the true leader of this defense at linebacker. Mintze doesn't have much of a resume to back himself, but his large frame and high motor make him an intriguing prospect. He'll also have Anthony Hines, Jamal Brooks and Aaron Sterling by his side.
The top cornerbacks for the Defenders are Parnell Motley, DeJaun Neal and Anthoula Kelly. Motley and Neal have both played meaningful snaps in the NFL, while Kelly is looking to reestablish himself as a pro. At safety, Joshua Allen and Kentrell Brice will likely be the starters, closely followed by Santos Ramirez. Allen and Ramirez are exceptionally athletic, allowing for position flex out wide and in the slot. Brice is another veteran with some NFL experience.
The Defenders will have the newly-signed Matthew McCrane at kicker this year; he's made eight career field goals in the NFL.
There's also a punter battle in D.C. between Daniel Whelan and Jacob Schum. Both have solid career resumes, but Schum has some NFL experience that might give him the edge.
Featured image courtesy of the D.C. Defenders