- Keith Ford makes them miss: Despite low yardage totals, the Arlington Renegades RB made for tacklers miss on his way gaining 30 yards after contact.
- Jarrell Owens‘ effective performance: The DC Defenders EDGE came away with two run stops and a sack in Week 1.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Week 2 of the XFL is here, with the St. Louis Battlehawks and Seattle Sea Dragons having already squared off to open the slate. Here were PFF's highest-graded players from Week 1.
For more data and premium stats from the 2023 XFL season, check out PFF premium stats.
- Offense: RB Keith Ford (84.2)
- Defense: DI Tomasi Laulile (93.4)
Ford's best Week 1 play came on a second-and-9 scurry in the middle of the fourth quarter. He shed one tackle before spinning off another and powering his way forward for an eight-yard gain. He ended the week with four forced missed tackles and 30 yards after contact on the ground despite recording just 24 yards overall.
Laulile played 32 snaps in Week 1 and was consistent but largely held off the stat sheet. That is, until he picked off a Luis Perez pass and returned it for a score. In the end, he was downgraded on only one of his snaps and came away with a run stop.
- Offense: RB Ryquell Armstead (75.5)
- Defense: EDGE Jarrell Owens (89.9)
While Armstead received only eight carries and two targets in Week 1, he made the most of his touches. He finished as the second-highest-graded running back of the week, recording two rushing first downs and the highest receiving grade at the position.
Owens' grade would have been even higher were it not for a missed tackle. Only Arlington's Jamal Carter outperformed him in run defense for the week, as Owens forced a fumble and made two stops on just eight such snaps. He also recorded a sack.
- Offense: WR Deontay Burnett (73.2)
- Defense: LB Tavante Beckett (91.8)
Burnett's best Week 1 play began with the defense jumping offsides, propelling Houston quarterback Brandon Silvers to take a downfield shot. Burnett made the contested catch and broke away for a 46-yard score in the Roughnecks' eventual 33-12 win over Orlando. He was one of three receivers in Week 1 to make two contested grabs.
SPECTACULAR CATCH FROM DEONTAY BURNETT ????@XFLRoughnecks | @XFL2023 pic.twitter.com/1SJXtmwBt8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 19, 2023
Most of Beckett's work came in coverage, where he played 24 of his 37 snaps. There, he allowed two catches on three targets for just 17 yards — including only two after the catch. A third-quarter pick-six helped boost his grade to elite heights, too.
Las Vegas Vipers
- Offense: WR Cinque Sweeting (82.7)
- Defense: S C.J. Avery (84.2)
Despite seeing a meager three targets across 60 minutes of action, Sweeting hauled in all of them for 64 yards and a score. His two best plays came when the Vipers were attempting to mount a late comeback with less than a minute remaining in the game — one a contested catch while the other was a catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Avery was active in all facets, recording three stops, five tackles, one quarterback pressure and an interception. He finished Week 1 as the XFL's fifth-highest-graded safety and the highest-graded player in coverage.
- Offense: WR Cody Latimer (81.9)
- Defense: S Mike Lee (89.8)
A former Indiana standout and second-round pick in the NFL, Latimer opened Orlando's XFL account with a first-quarter touchdown reception, one of his two contested catches in Week 1. While the Guardians suffered a 33-12 defeat to Houston, Latimer's five grabs on six targets for 68 yards and the score made him a clear standout.
Lee showed out in coverage, recording an impressive pass breakup in the first quarter and allowing just three catches — two of which were screens — on five targets. He was the highest-graded safety of Week 1.
San Antonio Brahmas
- Offense: WR Fred Brown (88.6)
- Defense: CB Ranthony Texada (90.4)
Brown caught all four of his targets in Week 1, coming out of the game as the XFL's highest-graded wide receiver. His corner-of-the-endzone grab in the fourth quarter provided the game's first touchdown, albeit in an eventual 18-15 loss for the Brahmas.
On Texada's best play of the week, he dropped back 10 yards into coverage before racing to the line of scrimmage to tackle the scrambling Battlehawks quarterback and force a fumble. No cornerback topped his 90.4 overall grade in Week 1.
Seattle Sea Dragons
- Offense: T Colin Kelly (74.1)
- Defense: CB Bryce Thompson (90.2)
Solid offensive line play is hard to come by in the NFL, let alone the XFL, but Kelly held his own at right tackle in Week 1. He finished the week as the XFL's highest-graded offensive lineman after allowing no pressure on 62 pass-blocking snaps.
Thompson ended up the highest-graded cornerback in coverage after the first slate of games, thanks in large part to a fourth-quarter interception. The 2021 undrafted free agent surrendered just one catch for eight yards on the day.
Bryce Thompson picks of @JTaamu10 for the @XFLSeaDragons with 7 minutes left in game pic.twitter.com/8T5Z5f8Tn3
— All Access XFL (@All_Access_XFL) February 20, 2023
St. Louis Battlehawks
- Offense: WR Austin Proehl (77.2)
- Defense: LB Carson Wells (86.5)
With three defenders closing in, Proehl caught a dart from St. Louis quarterback A.J. McCarron late in the fourth quarter and improbably held on for the game-winning score. While Proehl managed only four catches for 49 yards on the day, that contested catch helped him earn the fifth-best receiving grade among wide receivers in Week 1.
No linebacker recorded more stops than Wells' six in Week 1, and he didn't miss a single tackle despite being so active in the run game. Wells, the No. 312 player on PFF's 2022 big board, went undrafted this past year but made a statement in his first XFL outing.