Daryl “Moose” Johnston was a guest on The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young to talk about the USFL Draft. Johnston is the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the USFL. They talk about the night of the USFL draft. How playing for the USFL is better than playing in the CFL. A ton of behind-the-scenes stories on building the USFL and the 2022 draft.
Johnston was asked about what it was like putting the 2022 USFL Draft together and how challenging it was.
“Yeah, that was a big challenge. That first draft was going to be 280 guys drafted. And obviously, the most important thing for us is going to be the product on the field that the fans get to watch. So there was a lot of pressure on us to make sure we were getting the right people. Over the last two years, the pandemic has kind of muddied the waters a little bit. So many guys have gotten lost during this transition with extra time at College, bypassing draft skipping seasons.
So there’s some information and data that was a little bit challenging for us to kind of track down and really kind of connect. We use the networks of all the people who are part of the USFL family, and we’re blessed to have really good Scouts with us that then became team directors.
NFL experience, College experience, know the College game, know the NFL game. They shared information, and they worked together as a team. And that’s been for me, the most gratifying thing so far during this journey is to watch everybody work in unison as one team. So we hadn’t gotten to the part yet where we were competing against each other as franchises.”
He was asked about the eight QBs selected in the first round of the USFL draft. Some names fans are familiar with, some they are not.
“It was really just what you’re doing with every other position. Who are the best guys there? Who are some of the contacts that you have? I think the coaches were really helpful at that point, knowing the offensive system they were going to put in place and what quarterbacks would fit those systems the best, and I think you saw that with Brian Scott.
I think you see that with Ben Holmes when we talk to Mike Riley, Ben Holmes was high on his list from the very beginning, over 5000 yards, in his career. Brian Scott was very high on his list when you talk to Bart Andrews. When you talk to Brian Scott, I like that he’s got a little bit of that chip on his shoulder, but it’s a good chip.
Sometimes people wear that, and it has a negative component to it. Brian, wears his chip with a very positive component to that. I’ve always been a guy that was wired to prove people wrong.
Several years ago, I had a guy who just absolutely shifted my whole thought process in that situation to prove people who believed in you right instead of proving people who doubted you wrong.
It’s a real powerful shift, and Brian Scott has that he kind of comes from that background of proving those who believed him right as opposed to proving those who doubted him wrong. I’m excited to see both of those guys.”
He talks about how Shea Patterson was not the first choice of the Michigan Panthers and Jeff Fisher. But things worked out in the end.
“I think that Jeff Fisher and Steve Kazar had a guy picked out that they wanted to have in Michigan that was going to be one of their top people and things just didn’t work out there in that situation and Shea Patterson was exiting the CFL right at that exact same time for us to be able to start our first draft in the USFL with Shea Patterson from the University of Michigan going to the Michigan Panthers was just one of those things that you couldn’t script any better, and it got our evening off to a great start that night when we introduced the quarterbacks.”
Johnston talks about how the USFL and CFL compete for players and how the USFL is a better stop for players.
“A lot of great work by the people within our team. We do have some ties back into the CFL, so we have a lot of guys that are monitoring what’s happening there. That was really our competition for the players. If we were a little bit slow in making decisions or getting people to buy into what our vision was, there was a chance that they could leave for the CFL. And that was something that was going back and forth a little bit through that whole process. We lost some players to the CFL, the CFL lost some players to the USFL.
I think it was a pretty fair balance at the time, but as you pointed out, for us to be able to get two high profile quarterbacks like that and then to have Michigan book in the draft with Shea Patterson starting the night in Paxton Lynch ending the night again. Can you script that any better?
It’s something that I’m sure that we’ll continue to butt heads with a little bit as we move forward. We’re both competing for players, and our message to them is if you come to the USFL and play, you’re going to play ten regular-season games, hopefully, get into the playoffs and go to the Championship. That’ll be July 2nd. That gives you plenty of time to rest, recover, and then elevate your status as an NFL player and get into a camp. If you go to the CFL, you forfeit that whole cycle.
Again, you’re not getting into the NFL until at some point in 2023. So we think we have a lot more to offer than the CFL does in the hopes of getting back and chasing that NFL dream.”
They talk about Johnstons’ experience in the AAF, XFL, and now the USFL why he loves to be part of Spring Football. What Jeff Fisher brings to the USFL, working with Mike Reilly in the AAF, and a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff on the USFL draft. Also, who could be a top player in the USFL.
A great interview to have a full listen for any USFL fan.