Last week I embarked on the controversial journey of naming Ten USFL Players deserving of an NFL opportunity (the list could have been over 45 minimum) and for the sake of this article I only listed Two Michigan Panthers player. While Levi Bell and Frank Ginda are extremely deserving of an NFL opportunity in an effort to continue to give more players exposure, they will not be included on our list specifically highlighting different members of the Michigan Panthers who are chasing their NFL dream. Unlike my original list this list will include players who have played in an NFL game.
Levonta Taylor Cornerback
Stats: 40 Tackles
While Taylor did not record an interception, the former 5-Star recruit could of been equated to Darrelle Revis of the USFL, not allowing a Touchdown throughout the 2023 season. While Taylor according to PFF did give up the 2nd most yards allowed of the 24 starting Cornerbacks (I include Nickel CBs), the FSU alum did a great job of keeping receivers of out the endzone earning a PFF Grade of just under 70. With age on his side and taking advantage of his first full season of Pro Football, Taylor could find his way into an NFL camp this August.
Breeland Speaks Defensive Line
Stats: 53 Tackles 9.0 Sacks
Too easy for this one. Speaks was an absolute monster in the USFL, earning All-USFL honors and Player of the Week honors Twice. Speaks was a second-round pick in the NFL during the 2018 Draft, and found his way out of football since 2021. With a dominating resurgence in 2023 with the Panthers, Speaks is primed for a dominate return to an NFL team this year.
Trey Quinn Wide Receiver
Stats: 37 Receptions 438 Receiving Yards 4 TDs
Another NFL vet, Quinn cemented himself as one of the USFL’s most consistent and efficient Receivers, utilizing his skillset as a security blanket for Panthers Quarterbacks. Quinn was deadly being able to attack the seams of opposing Defenses, while also being able to play both the inside and outside Receiver positions. Even though he was once labeled as Mr. Irrelevant by the NFL several years later Quinn is anything but, after his performance in the USFL this past season.
E.J. Perry Quarterback
Stats: 12/23 121 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 10 Rushing Attempts 48 Rushing Yards 1 TD 3 Fumbles
With only Two starts (1 Regular Season, 1 Playoff), many could argue Perry’s appearance on the list may be a bit premature, however 392 total yards with 3 TDs in the playoffs definitely turned some heads for the former Ivy-League QB. Perry’s athleticism and ability to improv are key factors that NFL scouts look for in the modern game. Despite limited time with the Panthers, Perry put together some of the best playmaking in the whole USFL in a short sample size. With Perry’s recent NFL experience with the Jaguars and Texans look for him to remain on the “short-list” of NFL teams looking for an addition to their QB room after an injury or two.
Kai Nacua Free Safety
Stats: 31 Tackles 1.0 Sack
A late season pickup by the Panthers, Nacua transformed the Panthers star studded Defense into one of the USFL’s strongest unit in the second half of the season. Nacua versatility in both the front seven and the secondary, transformed the Panthers defense and Defensive Coordinator Steve Brown to allow the Panthers an extra man pressuring the Quarterback or providing coverage. Nacua who was most recently with the New York Jets on their Practice Squad in late 2022 could impact a contender with his ability to play tough in the box, and play on multiple units of Special Teams.
With the USFL seeing both Josh Pederson (Jaguars), and Brandon Aubrey (Cowboys), depart for NFL camps the figurative “flood gates” for more USFL talent to join NFL squads is only inevitable. With the USFL providing over 60 players opportunities in the NFL, look for NFL teams to heavily scout the Panthers in hopes of making a championship themselves this fall.