Note: The USFL college draft is for the rights to these players, should they choose the USFL barring they miss out on an NFL roster spot and there is no guarantee of these players suiting up for the Showboats.
In November of 2022, the USFL announced the Memphis Showboats would be back in 2023. On Tuesday, they continued building towards that monumental return with ten selections in the 2023 USFL College Draft.
With the fourth pick of the first round, Memphis announced the selection of Ole Miss OL Mason Brooks. Brooks was a two year starter at Western Kentucky and was named All-CUSA for the Hilltoppers before transferring to Ole Miss to compete in the big, bad SEC.
Brooks is listed as an OT but is a bit of a Swiss-army knife along the offensive line with experience at guard as well. Brooks, standing 6’6” 315 LBS, has the stature to be an anchor along the offensive line for Memphis.
In round two, the Showboats swung big with the selection of Isaiah Bolden, CB from Jackson State.
Bolden, another physically gifted player, measures in at 6’2” 205 LBS. He has the frame of a dominant outside corner. Out of Tampa, Bolden has always been a highly-touted athlete. He originally committed to Florida State as a four-star recruit. To pair with his ideal size, Bolden brings elite speed as he was a high school track star. These traits translated to the football field as he asserted himself as a dangerous kick returner for the Seminoles in 2021, returning two kicks for touchdowns. In 2022, as a cornerstone for a loaded Jackson State defense, Bolden posted 44 tackles and seven passes defended under the tutelage of, then head coach and NFL legend, Deion Sanders.
With the 19th overall pick, Memphis bet again on big time traits with the selection of Campbell EDGE Brevin Allen.
Allen, a fifth year senior and North Carolina native, checks in at 6’4”, 260 LBS. With sub-4.6 speed, Allen provides a lethal combination of size and speed off of the edge. This type of unique skill set propelled him to a total of six sacks and 14 QB hurries in 2022.
In round four, at pick number 27, Memphis selected a player from the defensive side of the ball for the third selection in a row. This time adding another physical DB in Northern Iowa star, Benny Sapp III.
Sapp, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was an FCS Third-Team All-American selection in his senior year at NIU with 53 tackles, four interceptions and two PBUs.
Sapp totes an NFL pedigree, as his father, Benny Sapp II, spent eight seasons in the NFL tallying 239 tackles and six interceptions.
In round five, the Showboats continued to target top-tier talent as they selected yet another former four-star recruit in TE Michael Ezeike out of UCLA. He easily passes the eye test for a tightend at 6’5”-250 — possessing the ideal frame for both blocking linebackers and out-bodying secondaries.
As a Senior in 2022, Ezeike caught 20 passes and scored four touchdowns.
With pick number 43, the Showboats added some additional OL support with the selection of Jerome Carvin from the University of Tennessee. Carvin is a product Memphis, Tennessee and now could have the opportunity to play in front of his hometown fans.
In five seasons with the Volunteers, Carvin started 42 games and played at least one snap in a remarkable 60 games. Carvin, another former four star recruit, did not allow a single sack in 2021 and was a veteran presence on the interior of an offensive line that helped Tennessee lead the country in scoring in 2022.
At pick 51 in the seventh round, the Memphis Showboats selected a third defensive back. This time CB Nehemiah Shelton out of San Jose State. At 6’2” and with a 77” wingspans, Shelton is another long DB added to the mix for the Showboats.
Shelton was named All-MWC Honorable mention in both 2021 and 2022. He plucked an impressive eight interceptions in his five-year college career, including two in his final season as a Spartan.
Out of UAB, the Memphis Showboats spent their eighth selection on WR Trae Shropshire. At 6’3”- 179, Shropshire possesses good height but a rather slender build. In 2022, he caught 41 balls for 923 yards as a Blazer.
The well-equipped Shropshire hails from Zachary, Louisiana. He has a good catch radius and a knack for finding open space in defenses. There are plenty of tools in his game that can make him a quality possession receiver at the pro level. While it’s not top-tier, he also possess enough speed to to make poor tacklers pay in the open field.
In the ninth round, Memphis continued to bolster their offensive line with the selection of OL Silas Dzansi out of Virginia Tech.
Dzansi check in at 6’5”- 335 LBS and started ten games at Left Tackle for the Hokies in 2022. Over the course of his college career, however, he also started at RT and at G. So again, another versatile chess piece added to the OL.
At pick number 75, the Showboats added yet another defensive back to what was a heavy DB/OL draft class for Memphis. This time selecting Antonio Fletcher out of Southern Illinois. Fletcher looks to add his name to the list of professional football players to come out of SIU’s secondary in recent years including Ryan Neal, Jeremy Chinn and Craig James, among others.
Fletcher spent four seasons at Arkansas State before transferring to SIU in 2022 where he recorded 38 tackles and four passes defended.