• QB D'Eriq King emerges as Defenders' top offensive player: The former college standout has provided a spark to DC amid the team's 2-0 start to the season.
• Renegades CB Josh Hawkins remains stout in coverage: Hawkins sits alone as the only XFL cornerback with a 90.0-plus overall grade through two weeks.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Week 3 of the XFL is here, with the Seattle Sea Dragons and Las Vegas Vipers set to open the slate on Saturday. Here are PFF's highest-graded players through two weeks of action.
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- Offense: RB Keith Ford (73.7)
- Defense: CB Josh Hawkins (93.4)
Ford retains his spot as the Renegades' highest-graded offensive player, although his raw stat line remains underwhelming. He's recorded just 35 rushing yards on 14 carries, but the underlying metrics paint a brighter picture. Ford is responsible for 46 yards after contact and seven forced missed tackles on the ground — both top-three figures at the position in the XFL this season.
Hawkins sits alone as the only XFL cornerback with a 90.0-plus overall grade through two weeks. His best play in Week 2 was a forced fumble that he recovered to derail a promising Houston Roughnecks drive, but it wasn't enough to stave off the Renegades' first defeat of the season. Hawkins has allowed just four catches for 42 yards on nine targets in 2023.
- Offense: QB D'Eriq King (84.6)
- Defense: EDGE Jarrell Owens (83.7)
King, a former college standout at Houston and Miami, latched on with the DC Defenders ahead of the XFL season and has become something of a sparkplug for the team despite his situational usage. While he's attempted just three passes, his ground-game prowess has helped propel the Defenders to a 2-0 start, with King tying for the XFL lead in rushing scores (two) and ranking first in rushing grade (82.0).
Make it two weeks in a row of Owens taking the top spot defensively for the Defenders. He has underwhelmed as a pass rusher, posting only two pressures — although both were sacks — but has dominated in run defense. Owens is one of two edge defenders with a forced fumble in that facet, and the average depth of his three tackles in run defense is the line of scrimmage — the second-best depth at the position.
- Offense: RB Max Borghi (71.7)
- Defense: EDGE John Daka (92.2)
Borghi is yet another college standout who is excelling early on in the XFL, and his defensive counterpart in Daka is a similar story. Borghi is tied for the league lead in both rushing scores (two) and forced missed tackles on the ground (eight). This all comes after he was the 13th-highest-graded running back (88.0) in the Power Five in 2021 among 125 qualifying players.
The aforementioned Daka got off to a slow start across his first two seasons at James Madison from 2016 to 2017 before flashing in 2018 and exploding onto the scene in 2019. He finished the 2019 campaign as the fourth-highest-graded edge defender in college football. That success has translated to the XFL, where Daka ranks second in pressures at the position (eight) and places first in pass-rush win rate (26.2%).
Las Vegas Vipers
- Offense: WR Cinque Sweeting (77.5)
- Defense: EDGE Pita Taumoepenu (86.2)
The winless Vegas Vipers managed just six points against the Defenders in Week 2, and so while Sweeting's game stat line of two catches for 19 yards on three targets is hardly inspiring, he remains the team's highest-graded offensive player. For the season, Sweeting has hauled in five passes on six targets for 83 yards and a score.
Taumoepenu is proving to be a force off the edge for the Vipers, leading the XFL with 11 pressures. A 2017 sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Taumoepenu also paces the league in pass-rush grade (92.3), regardless of position.
- Offense: WR Cody Latimer (72.1)
- Defense: S Marcus Murphy (86.2)
Latimer is one of three XFL receivers with 10-plus receptions through two weeks of action. And he's the only one with four contested catches. After spending six seasons in the NFL, the former second-round pick has hauled in a touchdown in each of Orlando's first two games.
Murphy remained a consistent presence in the Guardians' secondary in Week 2 after securing an interception in Week 1. His best play from this past week was a clean tackle on a third-and-15 pass in the first quarter. The receiver hauled in a five-yard throw before Murphy forcefully took him to the ground and ended the drive.
San Antonio Brahmas
- Offense: G Maea Teuhema (85.2)
- Defense: CB Ranthony Texada (89.0)
Teuhema stands as the highest-graded guard in the XFL through two weeks. His 85.2 overall grade is more than 13 grading points better than the next best player. He began his XFL stint with the Arlington Renegades before joining the Brahmas ahead of Week 2, and he shined in his debut with only one pressure allowed on 33 pass-blocking snaps to go with an 80.0-plus run-blocking grade.
The Brahmas earned their first win of the 2023 XFL season, in no small part because of Texada's contributions in coverage. He followed up his 90.0-plus grade in Week 1 with a 76.0 mark in Week 2, surrendering just two catches on six targets for 10 yards while nabbing an interception on an overthrown pass.
Seattle Sea Dragons
- Offense: T Colin Kelly (76.3)
- Defense: EDGE Tuzar Skipper (88.3)
Kelly holds onto his top spot from Week 1 after another solid effort in pass protection. While he didn't let up any pressure in his first outing, he was credited with three hurries allowed in Week 2. Overall, he is one of two tackles to have played 100-plus pass-blocking snaps and surrendered no more than three pressures.
After a quiet XFL debut for which he earned an average 60.3 overall grade across 18 snaps, Skipper wreaked some havoc off the edge in Week 2. His efforts resulted in only one pressure — a sack — but he finished the week tied for the highest pass-rush grade (91.4) among edge defenders.
St. Louis Battlehawks
- Offense: WR Austin Proehl (79.1)
- Defense: S Ben DeLuca (77.2)
Proehl, along with Hakeem Butler, has been a top receiving threat for the Battlehawks thus far, bringing in four passes in each of his outings for 86 yards and a score. Only one of the grabs was a contested catch, but Proehl has yet to drop a pass for undefeated St. Louis.
DeLuca's best play of Week 2 was a pass breakup in the flat with the Seattle Sea Dragons driving deep into Battlehawks territory. While he ended the day with just a 66.9 grade due to a missed tackle and lackluster run defense, DeLuca remains one of the XFL's top coverage safeties through two weeks.