While the 2020 XFL season lasted just a mere five weeks, we learned a lot about the league and its players during that short amount of time. And while the XFL was geared towards the passing game, there were some running backs who made the most of their opportunities in order to stand out. Now that XFL players are free to sign with other leagues, and with the NFL in free agency mode, it only seems right that some of these players get an NFL opportunity. NFL teams are always looking for depth in the backfield. Here are some players who've earned an NFL opportunity for 2020.
De'Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick, Tampa Bay Vipers
When the Vipers switched their offense from a pass-oriented playbook to a run-based attack, these two wound up becoming the faces of the Viper offense. Smith (365 rushing yards) and Patrick (254) finished first and third, respectively in rushing yards. They also averaged better than four yards per carry, Patrick ran for two touchdowns, and they combined for 111 receiving yards. Their collective efforts are the biggest reason why the Vipers would end up leading the league in both rushing offense (165.6 ypg), and total offense (391.8 ypg). Their combination of speed and power makes them difficult to tackle which would suit them well in the NFL.
Matt Jones, St. Louis BattleHawks
Jones is a versatile back who brought balance to the BattleHawks offense and was a solid complement to quarterback Jordan Ta'amu. When the five-week season was done Jones ranked second in rushing yards (319), averaged 3.9 yards per attempt, and added 25 receiving yards for good measure. His contributions played a significant role as the BattleHawks would go on to finish second in total offense (349.6 ypg) and rushing offense (155.8 ypg). Jones was Ta'amu's security blanket, and he can serve in the same capacity for any NFL quarterback.
Jhurell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey, DC Defenders
As the Defenders quarterbacks (Cardale Jones and Tyree Jackson) struggled down the stretch Pressley and Pumphrey kept this offense going. Over the final two weeks of the season, there were times where Pumphrey and Pressley were the only players moving the ball for DC. At season's end, they collectively posted 358 rushing yards, 108 receiving yards, and kept defenders on their toes in the process. They have proven that they can carry the load when needed.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Dallas Renegades
With Landry Jones dealing with injuries, and Philip Nelson dealing with inconsistency at times, the Renegades had to lean on Artis-Payne quite a bit this season. The former Auburn standout finished fourth in rushing yards (241), ranked third among running backs in yards per attempt (5.1), ran for two touchdowns, and tacked on 101 receiving yards. He would add quality depth to any NFL team.
— 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 XFL.com)