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AAF Players with NFL Futures: Week 1 Edition

A few noteworthy takeaways from the newest football league

QB John Wolford, Arizona Hotshots

The 23-year-old quarterback took the nation by storm with a tremendous four-touchdown, zero-interception performance in his AAF debut. For those not familiar with Wolford, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent just a week before the start of the 2018 season. After participating in a rookie camp with the Jets, Wolford’s football career had seemingly come to end. After being rostered for just 10 days and playing your Philadelphia Eagles, he was released and never picked back up by an NFL team.

Wolford finished his final year in college with a PFF passing grade of 90.5, which was second to only to future-rookie-phenom Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma. When given 2.5 seconds or more, Wolford was one of the most accurate QBs in the nation throwing for a completion percentage of 57.8,% a mark that ranked 4th among draft eligible QBs. When facing pressure, Wolford threw for a passer rating of 99.5, which, again, was second to just Mayfield.

In his only NFL action which came in week 4 of the preseason, Wolford had a pretty pitiful game. He threw for just 8 completions on 20 attempts for 89 yards and an interception. To be fair, most rookie QBs with just a few days of NFL practice would also struggle when facing NFL talent for the first time. For what its worth, Wolford had a higher PFF grade in the preseason than Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, Josh Rosen, and Kyle Lauletta.

While Wolford is likely not as bad as he showed in his only NFL game, he is just as likely not as good as he showed in his AAF debut. Judging by his promising senior year at Wake Forest, I am pretty surprised Wolford wasn’t given more of an opportunity in the NFL but that will almost certainly change come summer 2019.

WR Alonzo Moore, San Diego Fleet

Moore, who was signed as an UDFA by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, demonstrated his deep threat ability with an impressive 26.0 yards per reception. All three of his completions went for first downs and he had no drops in his debut. Moore was quickly cut by the Chiefs just a few months later The Chiefs were keen on Moore’s big play ability, specifically when it came to returns. After being cut by KC, Moore was not given another shot in the NFL.

When looking back at his college career, Moore’s numbers leave a lot to be desired. In his final year at Nebraska, while he was employed primarily as a deep threat, Moore was on a run first offense led by a lackluster quarterback. Tommy Armstrong Jr. had one of the worst Accuracy percentages (per PFF) in the country and was only able to get three catchable deep passes to Moore. Moore did his best, however, catching all three for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Depending on who quarterback’s the Fleet moving forward, Moore could get plenty of deep attempts. Phillip Nelson, who took over for the rocked Mike Bercovici, led the AAF by throwing almost a third of his passing attempts 20 or more yards down the field. Bercovici, however, was last in the league among the nine qualified quarterbacks with just 3 of 25 attempts going deep. With the recent announcement that Phillip Nelson will start week 2, Moore could really get a chance to shine in the San Diego home opener. If he can continue down the path he started on in his AAF debut, Moore could find himself on an NFL roster before training camp begins.

C JC Hassenauer, Birmingham Iron

After one week of AAF action, JC Hassenauer has played like he has something to prove. With 0 pressures allowed, the 23-year-old center was dominant in the passing game. He also demonstrated quickness and strength in the running game which, unfortunately for the Iron, wasn’t a trait that was very present along the Birmingham offensive line.

In college Hassenauer, who played both guard spots in addition to center, won the 2018 National Championship with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Per PFF, he had the 16th best pass blocking grade among interior lineman available in the 2018 draft with a grade of 85.1. Through 450 NCAA snaps, he allowed just 1 QB pressure, which is pretty incredible considering he played in such a prominent program.

After playing a key role in the dominant 2017 Alabama offensive line, Hassenauer went undrafted and signed with the Falcons. The center was waived in the final roster cuts and was not signed again throughout the 2018 season. With the great Jason Kelce approaching his 32nd birthday, Hassenauer could be a guy to keep an eye on for the Eagles in the future.

DI Trenton Thompson, Arizona Hotshots

The 22-year-old defensive lineman was downright dominant in week 1. With 2 QB pressures, 2 tackles, and 2 assists, Thompson finished the week with an elite PFF grade of 90.2. This should be no surprise, however, as PFF has been high on Thompson since his freshman year in college.

Thompson has always drawn favorable comparisons including being Philadelphia’s own Timmy Jernigan and soon-to-be free agent Ndamukong Suh. Obviously the NFL didn’t see this type of player as Thompson went undrafted in the 2018 draft and spent just a few months with the Cleveland Browns.

After seeing such a dominant performance out of the Georgia Alumnus, I would not be surprised one bit to see Thompson get another shot in the NFL. If he keeps this kind of production up for a few more games, that possibility will become even more probable. With the Eagles always looking for depth along the defensive line, it’d be nice to see the Eagles give Thompson a camp this summer.

S Orion Stewart, San Antonio Commanders

Stewart had quite the line last weekend. With only one target thrown into his coverage, Stewart recorded both a pass break up and an interception. He also had four tackles, two of which were stops.

For those unfamiliar with Stewart, he spent his college years at Baylor before going undrafted in 2017. After failing to make it on the Broncos, Washington, the Bills and, most recently, the Giants, Stewart was signed by the Commanders. Stewart is a self proclaimed ball-hawk who plays with a lot of energy. At just 25 years old, it’d be nice to see him be given a shot to compete within the young secondary of the Eagles.

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