After going 9-1 and winning the championship in the inaugural USFL season last year, the Birmingham Stallions looked to reload its roster in the USFL College Draft on Tuesday.
The Stallions’ plan in the draft was clear: upgrade at nearly every position on offense, as seven of their 10 picks were on that side of the ball, including four on the offensive line.
As the defending champs, the Stallions were slotted near the end of each round. Here is a breakdown of the 10 players taken by Birmingham in the 2023 USFL Draft.
Round 1, Pick 7: Kadeem Telfort, OT, UAB
Birmingham was running rather thin on the offensive line and made it a priority to add some stability up front. Right out of the gates, the Stallions took Kadeem Telfort from UAB in the first round. At 6-foot-8 and a wingspan of over eight feet, Telfort is one of the tallest and longest lineman in the 2023 class, allowing him to overpower defenders at the point of attack.
Telfort is one of the most reliable and consistent left tackles in the draft, as he allowed just one sack and seven hurries across 353 pass-blocking snaps in 2022. Not only is he’s strong in pass protection but he’s an excellent run blocker, as he and his fellow linemen paved the way for running back DeWayne McBride to lead the nation in rushing yards. The Stallions should see Telfort making an immediate impact on the offensive line.
Round 2, Pick 7: Quinton Barrow, OT, Grand Valley State
The Stallions followed up Telfort by taking another offensive tackle in Quinton Barrow. Barrow, a three-year starter at Grand Valley State, was a highly decorated tackle at the Division II level, as he was a consensus First-Team All-American and was the GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year. Barrow earned an invitation to the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl after playing a key role in the Laker offense that led the conference in points, rushing and total offense this past season.
Round 3, Pick 7: Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville
Malik Cunningham was the fifth quarterback taken in the USFL draft but is arguably the most experienced in the group. He was a four-year starter at Louisville and became the all-time leader in touchdowns with 120. He threw for 9,660 passing yards and rushed for 3,179 yards.
Cunningham is an insane athlete with an excellent deep ball. It will be tough for Cunningham to see playing time with three quarterbacks already on the roster, including J’Mar Smith who led the Stallions to a 9-1 record and a championship last season. Nevertheless, Cunningham will be suiting up for Birmingham, just 85 miles from his hometown in Montgomery, Alabama.
Round 4, Pick 7: Derius Davis, WR, TCU
Derius Davis wasn’t the biggest receiver on the TCU squad that made the national championship in 2022, but he still played a massive part in the Horned Frogs’ offensive success. He finished second on the team in receptions with 42 for 531 yards and five touchdowns.
Davis could be especially useful as a return specialist. He returned five punts and one kickoff for a touchdown while averaging 15 and 22 yards per return, respectively.
Round 5, Pick 7: Zeke Vandenburgh, LB, Illinois State
Zeke Vandenburgh was the heart and soul of the Illinois State defense and has a nose for making plays at every level. He led the team in tackles (100), tackles for loss (21) and sacks (14). He also recorded one interception, four pass breakups, four quarterback hits and two forced fumbles on his way to being named FCS Defensive Player of the Year. With only five other linebackers on the Stallions roster, Vandenburgh could be a key piece on defense in 2023.
Round 6, Pick 8: Colby Sorsdal, OT, William & Mary
Colby Sorsdal was a four-year starter at William & Mary and played a crucial role to the Tribe’s offensive success in 2022. He blocked for a rushing attack that ranked third nationally (265.8) while finishing with the fourth fewest sacks allowed per game (0.77). Sorsdal was the second-highest graded offensive lineman at the FCS level in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a strong addition to a much-improved offensive line.
Round 7, Pick 8: Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte
Grant DuBose has come a long way in a short amount of time. Less than three years ago, DuBose was working at Walmart in online grocery pickup after his season got cancelled at Division II Miles College. He joined Charlotte in the summer of 2021 and made an immediate impact, catching four passes for a season-high 118 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Duke, helping the program achieve its first win against a Power 5 opponent.
DuBose’s collegiate career only went up from there. He totaled 1,684 yards and 15 touchdowns across his two seasons at Charlotte and was named to the 2022 Second Team All-Conference USA. Coming off a 2022-23 Reese’s Senior Bowl appearance and an upcoming 2023 NFL Combine invite, DuBose now has the opportunity to continue his football career.
Round 8, Pick 8: Mark Evans II, OG, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Mark Evans II is the fourth offensive lineman taken by the Stallions and provides plenty of physicality in the trenches. He lined up at left tackle at Arkansas-Pine Bluff but due to his relatively short arm length, a transition to guard or center could be in the works. Regardless, he allowed just seven quarterback hits and five sacks across his five-year career.
Round 9, Pick 8: B.J. Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin
B.J. Thompson suited up for Baylor his freshman year before transferring to Stephen F. Austin, where he became an explosive and effective pass rusher. He totaled at least 24 pressures in four consecutive seasons, including 66 pressures and 14 sacks the past two seasons.
Thompson really showcased his talents at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas earlier this month. He impressed against better competition in practice and even logged four tackles and 1.5 sacks in the all-star game.
Thompson can get after the quarterback in multiple ways. He has the frame, speed and length to be successful at the next level.
Round 10, Pick 8: Starling Thomas V, CB, UAB
UAB maintained one of the best defenses in the Group of 5 in 2022, mostly due to the immense effort in coverage that Starling Thomas V contributed to.
While Thomas didn’t record an interception this past season, he allowed just a 62.9 passer rating when targeted while totaling 15 pass breakups in 12 games. He was named a First-Team All-Conference USA selection this past season. In 2021, he tallied 41 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups.
Thomas is a speedy, versatile corner that is fully capable of playing out wide or in the slot. He even made Bruce Feldman’s Freak List after clocking in at 24.6 mph on the GPS.