The Philadelphia Stars have made a couple interesting moves to further solidify their offensive line, while shuffling some pieces in the secondary. The first move came when the Stars signed CB David Vereen, and DT Marvin Wilson. Then they traded Wilson, and S Cody Brown to Birmingham in exchange for offensive linemen Gray Davis, and Ryan Pope. Let’s unpack why the Stars made these moves, and what they added in each player.
First Let’s Examine the Signings
Vereen began his college career playing offense before making the move to defense in 2017. In the last game of his redshirt freshman season he intercepted a pass against Mars Hill In 2018 he had already played his way into a starting job. Starting 11 games, he had a solid season breaking up 15 passes, and intercepting two, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Unfortunately he suffered an injury in 2019 which ended his season before it began but he continued to progress on defense in 2020. Playing in just six games he matched his 2018 interception total, broke up another 8 passes, and logged two tackles for a loss. He returned for one more year in 2021, and had another great season.
Playing in 13 games he managed a career high 43 tackles, 3 for a loss and 12 pass break ups. At his pro-day he managed solid numbers across the board with a 4.44 40-yard dash, and 1.54 10-yard split. He would put up a 36 inch vertical, 12 reps in the bench press, but his 3-cone drill was a 7.45 which left something to be desired in terms of agility.
His added value on special teams, and truly even an emergency wide receiver if it came to it don’t hurt. He once said in an interview with NFL Draft Diamonds he would like to meet Darrelle Revis, to pick his brain and learn from one of the best to ever do it.
After falling un-drafted in 2022 he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Here he can be seen fighting to break up a pass against 6’4 Shemar Bridges. He wound up released by Baltimore after a preseason that saw him allow 6 receptions on 8 targets for 53 yards (28 yards came on 1 play) He was later signed late in 2022 by the Indianapolis Colts. He finished out the season on the practice squad before returning to compete for a spot in 2023’s training camp. He was released on May 2nd. By September 15th he was signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He would go on to start the only game he played in and collected 4 tackles.
Channing Stribling may not be Revis, but he’s arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the USFL. He also gets to learn from Martin Bayless who played 13 seasons in the NFL then went on to coach defensive backs for over a decade at every level including stops with the NFL, YCF, AAF, XFL, and now USFL. Vereen is a name to watch for potential NFL interest the rest of the season.
Former Eagle Ends Up in Birmingham
Marvin Wilson was the third former Eagles player to sign with the Stars the last two seasons. He began his career with the Browns before being released in final cuts, the Eagles saw an opportunity and claimed him off of waivers. He spent most of the 2021, and 2022 season with the Eagles practice squad. Appearing in 2 games he collected 7 tackles.
Wilson made it all the way up to final cuts in 2023 with the Eagles nearly making it three straight seasons with the team. Released on August 29th, he had only received one work out with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s telling that the Eagles traded away Kentavius Street one of the players that led to Wilson’s release, and did not opt to re-sign Wilson. After signing the young defensive tackle, the Stars immediately flipped him and Cody Brown to Birmingham.
The Trade Terms:
Stars Receive OT Ryan Pope, and OG Gray Davis
Stallions Receive DT Marvin Wilson, S Cody Brown
The Stars to their credit have already brought in multiple defensive backs this offseason, but they also have lost a couple players. They added Vereen, and earlier Daniel Isom another cornerback. They also re-signed Joshua Moon.
One thing is clear, the Stars have every intention of improving their offensive line in 2024. So far this offseason they re-signed one of their top rated linemen in Jacob Burton, then added Jacob Steckler via waivers from Houston. Now they’ve acquired Gray Davis, and Ryan Pope two veteran linemen to fill some needs across their offensive line.
Pope is a former NFL lineman having spent time with no less than six teams including the Lions, Rams, 49ers, Cardinals, Packers, and Jaguars. He’s also played with multiple USFL and XFL teams. Pope was with the Stallions in 2022 before deciding to jump to the XFL. He spent time with the Seattle Sea Dragons, and Houston Roughnecks. He was re-signed by the Stallions to finish out the 2023 season and traded to Philadelphia just months later.
Gray Davis played in 50 games between his time in Nevada, following Coach Bill Best to CSU in 2022. During his time at Nevada he was only a part time starter appearing in 40 games he started just 20. In his first and only season with CSU he started all 12 games he played. Working under Best for multiple seasons seemed like a good choice, to his credit he had 13 players signed to professional contracts before joining CSU for the 2022 season.
The former high-school basketball player put up solid numbers at his pro-day for a guy performing at 6’4 320 lbs. Ultimately was not signed by an NFL Team after participating in rookie minicamp with the Denver Broncos. He was signed by the Stallions in August 2023 shortly after he was not signed by Denver. Now they send him to Philly where they desperately need help.
The Stars have been relatively quiet, so for them overnight to complete three moves, including bringing in defensive end Trey Botts who they drafted last season, it’s like the floodgates suddenly opened. In the span of two days the Stars added to their offensive line, defensive line, and secondary with four players who look to have promising futures in professional football. The Stars have always valued continuity, that’s why Bart Andrus drafted so many players from his TSL team, but continuity, and complacency are two different things. The Stars are actively making moves, without blowing up their whole roster to improve it heading into 2024. We saw this same approach before last season, let’s hope 2024 brings better results.
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