When the XFL season launched, Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker was just a 5-foot-11 inch quarterback who few football even knew about.
Now just three weeks after making his debut, he’s the league’s MVP frontrunner and is a fan-favorite across the country. It might be time to start talking about his NFL future, too.
The backstory: Phillip “P.J.” Walker first made his mark with the Temple Owls and head coach Matt Rhule, who became one of the NFL’s highest-paid coaches this offseason.
- Walker racked up 2,084 passing yards with 23 total touchdowns as a freshman at Temple.
- After winning eight combined games in their first two seasons, Rhule and Walker racked up consecutive 10-win seasons.
- Walker finished as Temple’s all-time leader in passing yards (10,669), passing touchdowns (74) and wins by a quarterback (28).
Walker signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He spent the next two seasons on the team’s practice squad, learning from Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett.
- In eight preseason games, Walker completed 62-of-113 attempts (54.8%), with 795 passing yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
The 24-year-old signed with the XFL in 2019, recognizing the opportunity to prove himself. After the XFL blocked the Pittsburgh Steelers from signing Walker in December, he went to training camp and won Houston’s starting gig.
The undeniable talent: While Walker took the field on Feb. 8 as an unknown, he quickly captured the spotlight as one of the XFL’s best talents.
- In his first start, Walker threw for 272 yards with four touchdowns and a 106.5 quarterback rating.
- It didn’t take long for people to recognize his mobility, instincts and the absolute cannon he can unleash at any moment.
Of course, some might have been concerned that it was just a one-game sample. Walker heard the doubt about his abilities and his height, then delivered another strong performance in Week 2.
- Walker racked up his second consecutive three-touchdown game, while accounting for 27 yards on the ground and made this Patrick Mahomes-like sidearm touchdown dart.
- The win came against the St. Louis BattleHawks, who boast one of the XFL’s most talented defenses.
Walker saved his best performance to date for Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Vipers. Between the gaudy numbers and the jaw-dropping throws, he was utterly unstoppable.
- Walker’s ability to evade pressure and make pinpoint throws on the run is truly remarkable. It’s the kind of ability that we only see in the NFL.
- He recorded his first 300-yard game and his second four-touchdown performance, picking apart Tampa Bay’s secondary like a seasoned veteran.
Walker is running away with the XFL MVP honors at this point. The Roughnecks are 3-0 and their quarterback is completing 64% of his passes with 748 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns and a lone Week 1 interception.
At a time when NFL teams are looking for quarterbacks with game-changing athleticism and playmaking ability, Walker fits that to a T. In fact, his first rushing touchdown of the year reminded us a little of the NFL MVP.
- While Walker doesn’t run the ball very often, he’s racked up 87 yards on 12 carries for an outstanding 7.2 yards per carry.
Walker is exactly the kind of quarterback the NFL needs. While teams keep giving opportunities to the likes of David Fales, Matt Barkley, Matt Schaub and Trevor Siemian, the Roughnecks have a player who actually brings something to the table.
The bottom line: Walker will turn 25 on Feb. 26, so we’re not even talking about a quarterback who is finished developing.
While he might be undersized for a quarterback, Walker keeps proving he is an excellent quarterback. We see it every single week when he does something new that leaves every football fan in utter shock.
Walker is well on his way to winning the XFL MVP award and the Roughnecks look like a team ready to win a championship. When the season ends, Walker’s phone needs to be ringing nonstop from NFL teams ready to give him a shot in 2020.