The USFL’s inaugural draft is in the books, and the league’s initial rosters have taken shape.
The league hosted its inaugural draft on February 22nd and 23rd, featuring its 8 franchises drafting in 35 position-specific rounds. Coaches selected players in a modified snake format, with each team having the first selection at 2 different position groups.
As expected, opinions of these teams have changed quite drastically since my pre-draft coach rankings. Now that rosters have come together, let’s look at how these teams are beginning to measure up against each other on paper.
1. Tampa Bay Bandits (Pre-Draft: 7)
Well, my opinion on Todd Haley coaching in the USFL has taken a complete 180 since the pre-draft rankings. Haley seems to have brought his A-game to the USFL draft and secured what could end up as the league’s best draft class.
Former St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu will be leading the Bandits’ offense and reunites with former Battlehawks center, Bruno Reagan. Tampa Bay appears to have one of the more talented offensive lines in the league and has plenty of offensive weapons to support their quarterback, including wide receivers Eli Rogers, John Franklin III, Jordan Lasley, and running backs Juwan Washington and BJ Emmons.
Defensively, the Bandits have some impressive pass rushers in Daylon Mack and Mekhi Brown, but it’s their secondary that really gives them an advantage. Safety Obi Melifonwu is a former 2nd round NFL draft pick and is joined by cornerbacks Delrick Abrams, Davante Davis, and Christian Campbell in the coverage unit.
With what could be one of the USFL’s most high-powered offenses and stout defenses, Todd Haley’s Bandits will be tough to beat.
- QB – Jordan Ta’amu, Brady White
- RB – Juwan Washington, BJ Emmons
- WR – Eli Rogers, John Franklin III, Jordan Lasley, Derrick Dillon, Vinny Papale
- TE – Cheyenna O’Grady, De’Quan Hampton
- OL – Bruno Reagan, Damien Mama, Tyler Catalina
- DE/Edge – Mekhi Brown, Daylon Mack
- CB – Delrick Abrams, Davante Davis, Christian Campbell
- S – Obi Melifonwu
2. Pittsburgh Maulers (Pre-Draft: 3)
I expected head coach Kirby Wilson to put together one of the league’s best rushing attacks, and while it’s still a bit early, it’s looking like he may have done just that.
Former 4th round NFL draft pick, quarterback Kyle Lauletta, will be under center for the Maulers. While he may not be seen as one of the top quarterbacks in the USFL, he may not have to be. The Maulers have put together what could be one of the league’s best offensive lines and a running back tandem in De’Veon Smith and Garret Grosheck that should be an excellent 1-2 punch. Additionally, Pittsburgh’s locked up some quality receivers in the speedster Jeffery Thomas, along with the bigger-bodied Bailey Gaither and Branden Mack.
Defensively, the Maulers’ strength appears to be on the interior defensive line, with defensive tackle Boogie Roberts as the squad’s anchor. While this team’s strength will likely be on offense, Linebacker Kyahva Tezino, cornerback Jaylon McClain-Sapp, and safety Bryce Tornaden will also be players to watch on the defensive side of the ball.
Overall, coach Kirby Wilson and the Pittsburg Maulers put together what should be one of the more exciting teams to watch in the USFL.
- QB – Kyle Lauletta, Josh Love
- RB – De’Veon Smith, Garret Groshek
- WR – Jeffrey Thomas, Branden Mack, Tre Walker, Delvon Hardaway
- DT – Boogie Roberts
- DE/Edge – Carlo Kemp
- LB – Kyavha Tezino
- CB – Jaylon McClain-Sapp
- S – Bryce Torneden
3. New Orleans Breakers (Pre-Draft: 6)
Coach Larry Fedora and the New Orleans Breakers put together what could shape up to be one of the USFL’s best passing attacks.
Quarterback Kyle Sloter joins coach Larry Fedora on the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers after spending the last 5 seasons with various NFL teams. While it may not be the best in the league, their offensive line appears to be a very strong one. Additionally, the Breakers secured a quality pass-catching running back in Larry Rose III, and should have one of the league’s better receiving cores, featuring wide receivers Johnnie Dixon, Taywan Taylor, and Jonathan Adams, along with the big-bodied tight end Sal Cannella.
The Breakers’ strength on defense appears to be their defensive ends/edge rushers in Davin Bellamy and Anree Saint-Amour. Another player to watch on New Orleans’ defense will be cornerback Adonis Alexander. While the Breakers appear to have one of the league’s better defenses on paper, they may end up needing some help on the interior defensive line.
Ultimately, the New Orleans Breakers should be a fun team to watch with one of the league’s better passing attacks and lots of potential for a solid defense.
- QB – Kyle Sloter, Zach Smith
- RB – Larry Rose III
- WR – Taywan Taylor, Jonathan Adams, Johnnie Dixon
- TE – Sal Cannela
- OL – Marquis Lucas, Liam Dobson
- DE/Edge – Davin Bellamy, Anree Saint-Amour
- CB – Adonis Alexander
- K – Austin MacGinnis
4. Philadelphia Stars (Pre-Draft: 5)
Coach Bart Andrus and the Philadelphia Stars put together one of the league’s more underrated rosters that I believe could surprise a lot of people.
Quarterback Bryan Scott will be working in a very familiar offensive system as he reunites with coach Andrus following their 2020 championship win in ‘The Spring League.’ While with ‘The Spring League,’ Scott also earned 2 league MVP awards (2018, 2020) and MVP of the 2020 Championship game. Scott will have some talented weapons in wide receivers Brennon Eagles and Diondre Overton, along with versatile running backs Matt Colburn II and Darnell Holland. Philly’s offensive line has the potential to be good but raises a few questions in terms of consistency.
On the defensive side, the Stars have a very talented core led by defensive end/edge rushers Freedom Akinmoladun and Gus Cumberlander. The team’s secondary has the potential to rival the best in the league and is anchored by cornerbacks Mazzi Wilkins and Channing Stribling, along with safety Jack Tocho.
The Philadelphia Stars have one of the more underrated rosters in the USFL, and the fact that both the Starting and backup quarterback already know coach Andrus’ offensive system should give them a leg up on the other teams in some areas. This team should be a fun one to watch.
- QB – Bryan Scott, Case Cookus
- RB – Matt Colburn II, Darnell Holland
- WR – Brennon Eagles, Diondre Overton
- TE – Bug Howard
- DT – Jerome Johnson
- LB – Te’Von Coney
- CB – Channing Stribling
- K – Matt Mengal
5. Birmingham Stallions (Pre-Draft: 4)
Coach Skip Holtz and the Birmingham Stallions had a solid draft, finding some quality skill positions on both sides of the ball.
Former 7th round draft pick quarterback Alex McGough will be under center for the Stallions after spending the last 4 seasons with various NFL franchises. The team’s running back room may be one of the best in the USFL, featuring Tony Brooks-James and CJ Marable. The wide receiver room also looks like a good one, with Emanuel Hall, Osirus Mitchell, and Victor Bolden as their top options.
While the Stallions do have some talented pieces on offense, their strength will likely be on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive ends/edge rushers Seth Thomas and Jonathan Newsome have found success in both the NFL and CFL and look to keep it rolling in the USFL. Additionally, Birmingham’s secondary will be one of their strong points, with one of the USFL’s better cornerback combinations in Brian Allen and Lorenzo Burns, along with safety Tyree Robinson.
The Birmingham Stallions have great potential in the USFL and should be a fun team to watch, assuming they get some quality play out of their quarterback.
- QB – Alex McGough, J’Mar Davis-Smith
- RB – CJ Marable, Tony Brooks-James
- WR – Emanuel Hall, Osirus Mitchell, Victor Bolden
- DT – Willie Yarbary
- DE/Edge – Seth Thomas, Jonathan Newsome
- LB – Scooby Wright, Terrill Hanks
- CB – Brian Allen, Lorenzo Burns
- S – Tyree Robinson
6. Michigan Panthers (Pre-Draft: 1)
Coach Jeff Fisher and the Michigan Panthers left many fans scratching their heads after the draft, as their picks did not seem to stand out in a positive way for really any position group.
There may be a quarterback competition brewing in Michigan as the Panthers have both Shea Patterson and former 1st round NFL draft pick Paxton Lynch on the roster. However, Lynch was the last quarterback selected in the entire draft, and we don’t really know where he’s at in terms of skill, considering he was recently cut from the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and hasn’t played a snap of live football since 2017. That being said, Paxton Lynch is the only quarterback in the USFL to have started an NFL game.
Outside of quarterback, the Panthers secured a quality running back in Stevie Scott III and the shifty former NFL wide receiver Jeff Badet. Michigan’s best offensive player is likely offensive guard Marquell Harrell. Teton Saltes and Daishawn Dixon bring more potential to the Panthers’ offensive line, but only time will tell how well this unit holds up.
On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan lacks an edge rush and experienced defensive backs. Linebacker Frank Ginda will be another name to watch on the Panthers’ defense, although he’s considered to be a bit undersized for his position.
Overall this team had an underwhelming draft and seemed to miss out on quality players throughout the draft. They have some talented pieces and a bunch of experience but we’ll see how well it all comes together.
- QB – Shea Patterson, Paxton Lynch
- RB – Stevie Scott III, Reggie Coburn
- WR – Jeff Badet, Quincy Adeboyejo
- TE – Joey Magnifico
- OL – Marquell Harrell
- DT – Jaquan Bailey
- DE/Edge – Cavon Walker, Chase Demoor
- LB – Frank Ginda
7. New Jersey Generals (Pre-Draft: 2)
Coach Mike Riley’s New Jersey Generals are a team with potential, but their success will likely depend on how quarterbacks Ben Holmes and De’Andre Johnson handle the big moments.
The Generals have 2 quality running backs in Mike Weber and Trey Williams, and a receiving core that is great at gaining yards after the catch in KaVontae Turpin, J’Mon Moore, and Darrius Shepherd. The offensive line raises some questions, but has potential and could shape up to be a solid one.
New Jersey’s defense has some quality pieces but left us hoping they continue to address things in the supplemental draft. Highlights of the team’s defense include linebackers Chris Orr and D’Juan Hines, defensive end Kolin Hill and cornerback De’Vante Bausby.
Overall, The New Jersey Generals have some quality pieces but may have the most questions around their quarterback room out of any team in the USFL. If Ben Holmes or De’Andre Johnson can shine when the spotlight is brightest, this team could be an exciting one, but they’ll have a bit to prove going into the season.
- QB – Ben Holmes, De’Andre Johnson
- RB – Mike Weber, Trey Williams
- WR – KaVontae Turpin, J’Mon Moore, Darrius Shepherd
- DE/Edge – Malik Hamner, Kolin Hill
- LB – Chris Orr, D’Juan Hines
- CB – De’Vante Bausby
8. Houston Gamblers (Pre-Draft: 8)
Coach Kevin Sumlin and the Houston Gamblers selected a few nice pieces on both sides of the ball, but also made quite a few head-scratching decisions.
The Gamblers have a decent quarterback in Clayton Thorson, but they didn’t prioritize drafting many weapons for him to work with. The team’s top receivers are currently Isaiah Zuber, Jojo Ward, and Anthony Ratliff-Williams, along with tight end Brandon Barnes, but I’d expect them to add a few more pieces in the USFL’s supplemental draft on March 10th.
Linebackers Drew Lewis and Azeem Victor anchor the team’s defense, and cornerbacks Jamar Summers and Howard Wilson could end up being one of the best defensive back tandems in the USFL.
Ultimately, the Houston Gamblers’ have some nice pieces and a decent quarterback, but the team’s success will come down to if the offense can produce with what they have.
- QB – Clayton Thorson, Kenji Bahar
- RB – Dalyn Dawkins, Mark Thompson
- WR – Isaiah Zuber, Jojo Ward, Anthony Ratliff-Williams
- TE – Brandon Barnes
- OL – Avery Gennesy, Terronne Prescod
- DE/Edge – Chris Odom
- LB – Azeem Victor
- CB – Jamar Summers, Howard Wilson
Teams will fill their remaining roster spots during the USFL’s 10 round supplemental draft, scheduled for March 10th. With the number of talented players still available following last week’s draft, we could see a few more key players added to each of these rosters before the season kicks off.