Check out our breakdown of the Houston Roughnecks front office and coaching staff here.
Who will spearhead the attack for this year’s offense?
Heading into any new football season, it is important to have a solid foundation on which to rest your offense. Everyone knows that the backfield is where the “flash” comes from, so that is where we will be starting today. There are some old faces (RB/WR Nick Holley), new faces, and a whole lot of talent to give offensive coordinator A.J. Smith plenty of options and firepower to compete right off the bat!
But is that how it will turn out? As we saw in the last iteration of the XFL, a season ended by the looming COVID-19 pandemic, offenses are typically the last thing to start firing on all cylinders for football teams. Luckily, the Houston Roughnecks didn’t have that issue then. Here’s hoping that the same rings true this season in the revamped XFL.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the quarterbacks and running backs on the 2023 Houston Roughnecks roster!
The quarterbacks room
#12 – Brandon Silvers
Yes. It’s THAT Brandon Silvers. The former starter of the Seattle Dragons in the 2020 XFL season is in the room and gunning for the starting position.
A four-year starter at Troy University, Silvers had a highly successful collegiate career. He threw for over 10.000 yards, a 64.4% completion percentage, and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of over 2-to-1. His stops in the AAF, XFL, and The Spring League combined, reflect the same type of numbers, granted his stay in The Spring League in 2021 saw him throw 9 touchdowns to just 1 interception.
If we’re honest, Silvers didn’t have a ton of help up in Seattle. Despite this, he was highly entertaining to watch and the Dragons were in striking range for most of the games they played simply because of him. He is not a runner, but rather a pocket passer with the ability to gain a few yards on the ground. The performance of the Roughnecks’ run game and wide receivers will determine his success because he clearly has leadership ability and the track record to back up his passing abilities.
#14 – Cole McDonald
Cole McDonald is a bit of an unknown. He played his college ball in Hawaii in the Mountain West Conference, and as a Redshirt Junior passed for over 4,000 yards, 33 TDs, and 14 interceptions. Just looking at those numbers, he seems like a gunslinger. Right? Right?!
Well, he can run too. FAST. He has a 4.5-second forty-yard dash speed and carries a 6’3″ and 215-pound frame. He is strong, can throw well on the run, and has a beautiful deep ball. Oh, and was it mentioned that the man throws absolutely frozen ropes? McDonald will look to push for the starting spot and has all the tools to run away with it.
#5 – Kaleb Eleby
Kaleb Eleby is a young gun, having declared for the 2022 NFL Draft but unfortunately being passed over. He played college at Western Michigan University, where he passed for over 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions during his one-and-a-half years as a starter. He also ran for another 6 touchdowns.
Eleby is similar in style to McDonald, but never really had the help to be as prolific. He prefers to be a pocket passer, but can absolutely run if there is space. The quarterback navigates the pocket well and has a lightning-fast release. He operates RPOs at a high level and loves the deep ball and the rollout high-low concept. He won’t be the starter in all likelihood, but if something happens to both Silvers and McDonald he can be more than serviceable as long as the offense is built to the strength of this group.
The running backs room
#26 – Brycen Alleyne
This young man certainly has a flair for playmaking. Having played both running back and slot receiver, he is a near-complete running back. He is a small-framed player, but don’t let that fool you. He has elite acceleration, good top-end speed, and good vision and catching ability. The one question that looms about his game is his ability to pass protect. With that said, it is doubtful that he finds himself in a position to need to do that.
He is also a return specialist. With the XFL being a much better product regarding special teams than any other professional league out there (because they have actual kickoff returns), Alleyne could be a huge weapon in the return game as well. He will be fun to watch in the rotation this season, and it will be interesting to see to what level he is utilized in A.J. Smith’s offensive scheme.
#22 – Max Borghi
An undrafted free agent in the 2022 NFL Draft, Max Borghi bounced around with NFL teams but couldn’t stick. That said, his talent is absolutely there. He is a true dual threat, as he is an explosive runner and apt pass catcher out of the backfield. Borghi is a tough runner, loves a good stiff arm, and has the speed to break big plays.
His time at Washington State university saw him gain over 2,000 yards on the ground on just 369 carries, and over 1,000 yards receiving on 156 receptions. Those are pretty high-average numbers in general, regardless of the system you are coming from. He adds tenacity and a bit of brute strength to the Houston backfield.
#16 – Nick Holley
Roughnecks fans from 2020 will be chomping at the bit to see Nick Holley back on the field! The rest of the XFL? Not so much. “Hollywood” absolutely torched the XFL in 2020 with his high-flying catches and adrenaline-laden runs. The man can absolutely ball! Instead of harping on how he will be a mainstay in the offense this year, why don’t we just reminisce?
#34 – Dejoun Lee
The first thing that jumps out at viewers when they watch film on Dejoun Lee is his big play ability and speed. The second (and more important) thing? The wonder that hits them when they try to formulate how anyone can tackle him.
He is a smaller frame back but is incredibly slippery in the open field. He has a lot of moves in his arsenal: an excellent spin, stiff arms, high stepping, and shoulder and hip feints. The guy just seems to be slathered in Vaseline. He is strong as an ox as well. Arm tackles do not bring him down. He thrives in a zone run scheme, which seems to be the direction that the Roughnecks’ offense will be heading with their run game.
The Houston Roughnecks are LOADED with talent at the quarterback and running back positions! Having guys like Nick Holley and Brycen Alleyne who can flex out as wide receivers as well really adds a dynamic and flexibility to what an offense could potentially scheme around guys like this. Exciting plays are definitely ahead for this offense, but are exciting TIMES ahead in terms of points and wins? The time is near!