Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released a detailed player ranking for the 2023 United States Football League (USFL) regular season, grading every team’s top performers based on statistical analysis and performance metrics.
In a superb display of skill, the Birmingham Stallions’ defensive end, Dondrea Tillman, achieved the highest overall grade with a staggering 90.0, largely due to his 30 quarterback pressures during his final five games of the season. Stallions quarterback Alex McGough also shone, earning an 87.7 grade, owing to his exemplary turnover-worthy play rate (1.6%) and passing grade on 20-plus-yard throws (91.6) – second in the league. This performance marks McGough as the only USFL quarterback to achieve an 80.0-plus season grade in the past two seasons, according to PFF.
Houston Gamblers running back, Mark Thompson, earned an impressive 86.8 grade, forcing a league-high of 45 missed tackles and acquiring the second-highest yards after contact per carry figure (3.7). Meanwhile, safety Dayan Lake achieved a stellar 77.3 grade, allowing only two 15-yard completions into his coverage over the season’s last seven weeks.
Kyree Woods of the Memphis Showboats was declared the best coverage safety in the league, earning an unrivaled 92.0 overall grade despite battling injuries throughout the season. On the other side of the ball, wide receiver Vinny Papale made 33 catches, eight of which were contested — tied for second-most in the league — earning him a 76.7 grade.
The Michigan Panthers saw defensive interior Levi Bell achieve the highest grade, 91.8, for any USFL player at any position across his final three regular-season games. Tackle Josh Dunlop received a 76.4 grade, making him the only USFL tackle to earn 70.0-plus run-blocking and pass-blocking grades.
Hercules Mata’afa of the New Jersey Generals achieved a 90.4 grade, making him one of the four edge defenders in the league with a 90.0-plus pass-rush grade this season. The Generals’ running back, Darius Victor, was noted as the most efficient in the league, averaging .38 missed tackles per carry and 4.8 yards after contact per carry.
The New Orleans Breakers’ safety Adonis Alexander impressed with an 80.2 grade, making him one of only three at his position to face at least 20 targets in coverage and allow 10 or fewer catches. Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, who dropped only two of his 58 targets on the season, was recognized for his performance in Week 8 against the Panthers, when he achieved 135 receiving yards, two scores, and a season-high 88.7 game grade.
In the Philadelphia Stars camp, edge defender Adam Rodriguez and guard Shamarious Gilmore emerged as key performers, achieving grades of 77.2 and 74.5 respectively. Gilmore was noted as one of the USFL’s most well-rounded offensive linemen, having allowed only 10 quarterback pressures all year.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Maulers saw linebacker Reuben Foster record an outstanding 90.5 grade, making him the only linebacker in the league to play 150-plus snaps and earn a 90.0-plus overall grade. Interior defender Boogie Roberts also proved his mettle, ranking third in run stops and quarterback pressures among USFL interior defenders and earning 70.0-plus grades both as a pass rusher and a run defender.
This comprehensive analysis by Pro Football Focus underlines the extraordinary talent exhibited throughout the USFL’s 2023 regular season and sets the stage for what promises to be an intense and competitive postseason.
(All grading statistics and data sourced from Pro Football Focus).