The AAF didn't last long, but these guys made the most of their opportunity
As the fallout over the demise of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) continues its course, the NFL has taken notice. Numerous former AAF players have signed with NFL teams in hopes of continuing their careers. But there are still some talented players out there looking for a new football home.
While it’s impossible to sign every player that’s out there, injuries and other factors can always change things. We’ve already profiled offensive players that are worthy of a long look, so here are some defenders that fit the bill as well.
Earl Okine, DE
With the NFL becoming even more of a passing league these days, a big premium has been placed on effective pass rushers. And effective is exactly what Okine was for the Orlando Apollos, as he recorded five sacks in just eight games, good for third in the AAF. He also finished in the top 25 in total tackles (25) and recorded an interception. At 6-foot-7 he has the length to fight off offensive tackles with big wingspans and long reaches. Okine does have previous NFL experience as he played in five games for the Indianapolis Colts back in 2015. He also posted 22 tackles and 5.5 sacks for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League the year before joining the Colts. Okine is a proven player and deserves another NFL opportunity.
Nyles Morgan, LB
He was underrated at Notre Dame, and he was underrated when he tried to grab an NFL spot in 2018. But after playing with the Arizona Hotshots for eight weeks, Morgan showcased his abilities and arguably did enough to merit another NFL invitation. He was the AAF’s fourth-leading tackler (58) and in the process, he displayed his ability to play the run, cover receivers downfield, and move sideline-to-sideline. He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, putting him on the small end for a linebacker, but his athleticism and nose for the ball could be just what some NFL team is looking for.
Tracy Sprinkle, DT
As one of the few bright spots for the 2-6 Atlanta Legends, Sprinkle’s impact wasn’t always noticed because of the team’s struggles as a whole. But Sprinkle led all AAF defensive tackles with 22 tackles and five sacks. Measuring at 6-foot-1 and 292 pounds, Sprinkle can play in both a 4-3 and 3-4 alignment. Depth on the defensive line is important in the NFL, especially during training camp and the preseason. Sprinkle can definitely provide that and make plays in the process.
Tyson Graham, DB
This 25-year-old was another positive development for an otherwise struggling Legends defense. He led all AAF players at his position in tackles (55), had one interception, forced a fumble, and basically showed up all over the field in an effort to make plays. He has speed, durability, and youth on his side. Let’s get him onto an NFL roster.
Ryan Moeller, DB
With Mike Martz as his head coach it was the offense that got most of the attention for the San Diego Fleet. But Moeller, who played collegiately at Colorado, was an unsung hero on the Fleet's defense. One of the AAF's top 10 tacklers with 37, Moeller also tied for the league lead in interceptions (four). The NFL is always looking for production from players in the secondary as the league becomes centered around the passing game. Moeller can be one of those players.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @aafhotshots)