The United States Football League is returning for its second season this year after an exciting and impressive debut during which the Birmingham Stallions were crowned champions.
Last season, the USFL Draft was primarily used to build the entire league, which is why you saw mainly experienced guys with various professional experiences filter their way to the USFL in season one.
This year, the USFL took a proactive approach with its roster construction and held a College Draft, which essentially is a futures draft of prospects who are in the current 2023 draft class. What makes this unique is that the league is focusing on primarily the players who would be considered Day 3-to-UDFA in the 2023 NFL Draft for this draft.
If a player doesn't get drafted or ends up getting cut from an NFL roster this season or in the future, they will revert to the roster of the USFL team that selected them.
This year's inaugural USFL College Draft was 10-rounds long with 80 selections. Let's see who stood out amongst the newly drafted USFL prospects.
- Round 1: Kadeem Telfort, OT, UAB
- Round 2: Quinton Barrow, OT, Grand Valley State
- Round 3: Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville
- Round 4: Derius Davis, WR, TCU
- Round 5: Zeke Vandenburgh, DE, Illinois State
- Round 6: Colby Sorsdal, OT, William & Mary
- Round 7: Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte
- Round 8: Mark Evans II, OL, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
- Round 9: BJ Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin
- Round 10: Starling Thomas, DB, UAB
The Stallions did a really good job in attacking the small-college prospects, landing really good point of attack players in both OL Colby Sorsdal and Mark Evans II, as well as DE Zeke Vandenburg from Illinois State.
What I liked most
QB Malik Cunningham: 6-0 187, Louisville
Landing a true dual-threat like Cunningham just enhances the Stallions offense. Last season, they were markedly better when QB J'Mar Smith took over the job, but he's still unclear if he is going to return to the league, so the Stallions had to look toward the future with the fleet-footed, deep ball throwing Cunningham. I caught up with him back in January after one of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practices.
OT Quinton Barrow: 6-5 322, Grand Valley State
Barrow more than held his own at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, and he will give the Stallions a significant presence up front. He is a prospect who is equally as good in pass pro as he is in the run game, and coming out of a system similar to what he'll see here with the Stallions, the learning curve is much shorter and puts him into the "plug-and-play" territory.
EDGE BJ Thompson: 6-5 238, Stephen F. Austin
Thompson was the talk of East-West Shrine Bowl week because of the tremendous athleticism he possessed. That was practice; in the game, he finished with two QB sacks and a couple of pressures. When I tell you he is equally as athletic going backwards as he is going forward, the Stallions will have themselves a guy who could potentially be defensive player of the year when it is all said and done.
- Round 1: Chase Brice, QB, Appalachian State
- Round 2: Justin Ford, DB, Montana
- Round 3: Joseph Fisher, G, Shepherd
- Round 4: Scott Matlock, DT, Boise State
- Round 5: Jeffery Johnson, DT, Oklahoma
- Round 6: Keenan Isaac, DB, Alabama State
- Round 7: Alex Jensen, OT, South Dakota
- Round 8: Brady Russell, TE, Colorado
- Round 9: Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State
- Round 10: Colby Reeder, LB, Iowa State
If you remember last season, the Gamblers, under then head coach Kevin Sumlin, just couldn't finish games. Mainly because they got worn down toward the backend of contests. Newly hired coach Curtis Johnson wanted to put an emphasis on improving the talent on defense, especially at linebacker with Colby Reeder out of Iowa State, to help eradicate that issue heading into 2023.
What I liked most
DB Keenan Issac: 6-2 188, Alabama State
Issac was one of the stars of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, showcasing the length and athleticism to make things difficult for receivers and quarterbacks as well. Because of the two aforementioned elite traits he has, he's able to shrink space between he and the football, while also being able to close potentially open windows for the quarterback in the passing game.
DB Justin Ford: 6-0 190, Montana
Ford has really good size and man-to-man skills. This was on display in every game at Montana, where he was matched up against a team's No. 1 wideout. Also, down at the Hula Bowl, I got an up close and personal look at the matchup skills and athleticism he brings to the table. He's got the right amount of aggressiveness and patience to make him a top-tier cover guy for the Gamblers.
- Round 1: Mason Brooks, OT, Ole Miss
- Round 2: Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State
- Round 3: Brevin Allen, DE, Campbell
- Round 4: Benny Sapp III, DB, Northern Iowa
- Round 5: Michael Ezeike, TE, UCLA
- Round 6: Jerome Carvin, OL, Tennessee
- Round 7: Nehemiah Shelton, CB, San Jose State
- Round 8: Trea Shropshire, WR, UAB
- Round 9: Silas Dzansi, OL, Virginia Tech
- Round 10: Antonio Fletcher, S, Southern Illinois
From the looks of it, the Showboats wanted to spotlight athleticism more than anything. That's evident by the selections of Benny Sapp III, Trea Shropshire and Nehemiah Shelton. Needless to say, there's an influx of talent and athleticism coming to Memphis in its inaugural season.
What I liked most
DE Brevin Allen: 6-3 262, Campbell
Allen had a great week of work at the East-West Shrine Bowl, coming off of a stellar career with the Camels. What is impressive is his heavy hands combined with his ball get off. He gets up on the offensive lineman so quickly and into his chest with those hands, and is able to get significant knockback. Camels coach Mike Minter did a fantastic job with his development.
TE Michael Ezeike: 6-5 245, UCLA
At the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Ezeike was showcasing wide receiver-like skills from the tight end position, so it is no surprise the Showboats snagged a potential matchup nightmare at the position. He spoke with us post-practice about his versatility.
DB Isaiah Bolden: 6-2 203, Jackson State
Grabbing Bolden when they did helps twofold for the Showboats. He gives them one of the more versatile defensive backs in the draft class while also bolstering their return units in the process. Bolden can play virtually anywhere in the secondary and has top-tier ball skills to match. I spoke with him at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl about his wide array of skills.
- Round 1: Jarrett Horst, OT, Michigan State
- Round 2: Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota
- Round 3: Santrell Latham, LB, Southern Miss
- Round 4: DJ Scaife Jr., OL, Miami
- Round 5: Dashaun White, LB, Oklahoma
- Round 6: Levi Bell, DT, Texas State
- Round 7: Gunnar Oakes, TE, Eastern Michigan
- Round 8: Andrew Farmer II, DE, Lane College
- Round 9: Chim Okorafor, OT, Benedictine
- Round 10: Sidy Sow, OT, Eastern Michigan
Breaking in a new head coach in Mike Nolan, the Panthers wanted to make sure they secured the line of scrimmage with seven of their 10 picks (if you include TE), going to the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage.
What I like most
QB Tanner Morgan: 6-0 200, Minnesota
Morgan's game is tailor made for the USFL, as I think he has a lot to prove. Two years ago, we were talking about him as a potential first-round NFL pick. So, he's got an opportunity here to show folks that what we saw a few years ago wasn't an aberration, and that he still has that potential as a passer within his game.
OT Sidy Sow: 6-4 329, Eastern Michigan
Sow was another of the offensive line standouts from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. During 1-on-1s, you rarely saw him take a loss or get pushed back into the QB's lap. He is also one of the top CFL Draft prospects in the draft class and could also hear his name called there as well. It wouldn't surprise me to see him drafted in the USFL, CFL and NFL drafts.
DE Andrew Farmer: 6-3 250, Lane College
As one of the top HBCU prospects in the draft class, Farmer has it all. He has the ability to be a strong, dependable run defender and an excellent pass-rusher coming off the edge. Primarily, he's played with his hand in the dirt in college, but during the two all-star games, the Hula Bowl and HBCU Legacy Bowl, he's more than equipped to be used as a SAM backer at the professional level.
New Jersey Generals
- Round 2: Adrian Martinez, QB, Kansas State
- Round 3: JJ Holloman, WR, Tennessee State
- Round 4: Victor Jones, DL, Akron
- Round 5: De'Jahn Warren, CB, Jackson State
- Round 6: Derrick Tucker, S, Texas Southern
- Round 7: Jermaine McDaniel Jr., North Carolina A&T
- Round 8: Adam Korsak, P, Rutgers
- Round 9: Jalen Holston, RB, Virginia Tech
- Round 10: Nick Zecchino, LS, Purdue
- Round 10: Rey Estes, DB, Grambling State
Coach Mike Riley knows what he wants for his system and doesn't shy away from selecting guys who fit that system perfectly, like RB Jalen Holson of Virginia Tech. I came away impressed with ability as a receiver out of the backfield at the Tropical Bowl back in January. Grambling State DB Rey Estes has terrific instincts, ball skills and the right attitude for the position as well. The Generals have also had a heavy presence at the HBCU Combine, so there is no surprise many of their selections are participating in this event and all-star game.
What I liked most:
QB Adrian Martinez: 6-1 219, Kansas State
He's got a lot of Dak Prescott-like qualities about his game, and he was one of the better, more consistent QBs at the Hula Bowl. He gives them the perfect dual-threat QB who's been battle tested and has shown improvement year over year, culminating in a solid stint at Kansas State. To me, he's the perfect General in Riley's system.
DB De'Jahn "Nugget" Warren: 5-10 174, Jackson State
Warren had himself an excellent showing at the HBCU Combine, and is primed for a stellar week during the HBCU Legacy Bowl practices. He was the No. 1 JUCO CB prospect in the country in 2020, and the skills he showed then definitely translated to what we've seen from him at Jackson State and currently at the HBCU Combine/Legacy Bowl. The sky's the limit for Warren, and he's going to be able to flourish under a coach like Riley.
EDGE Jermaine McDaniel: 6-2 239, North Carolina A&T
The Generals will have to be able to get to the QB this year if they want to make it back to the postseason. I feel like that was a missing element to their defense last year: a guy who can just go and get it. McDaniel can potentially provide that for them, as he's got excellent ball get off, ankle flexion and bend to be able to flatten and accelerate to the QB. He's been doing so at the HBCU Combine, showcasing that athleticism and potential.
New Orleans Breakers
- Round 1: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
- Round 2: Noah Taylor, LB, Virginia
- Round 3: DJ Ivey, CB, Miami
- Round 4: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
- Round 5: Isaiah Moore, LB, NC State
- Round 6: Dante Stills, DT, West Virginia
- Round 7: Darius Hagans, RB, Virginia State
- Round 8: Jake Bobo, WR, UCLA
- Round 9: Alex Palczewski, OL, Illinois
- Round 10: Tyler Baker-Williams, CB, NC State
The Breakers new coach John DiFilippo wants to play fast and be explosive on offense, which could explain why he doubled up on both wide receivers and running backs. Virginia State RB Darius Hagans has posted back-to-back solid postseason performances at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the HBCU Combine. With the latter being held in New Orleans, it doesn't shock me to see DiFilippo pull the trigger on someone who is performing well in his own backyard.
What I liked most
RB Keaton Mitchell: 5-9 195, East Carolina
Listen, when you talk about speed and explosiveness, you're talking about Mitchell. He is an instant offense type of guy and has the ability to ring that cash register pretty quickly as a runner, receiver and return specialist. If he's playing for the Breakers this season, just ride the wave along with the rest of us, as that offense will be exciting to watch. Mitchell is a legit gamebreaker and is a steal of a selection.
DT Dante Stills: 6-3 289, West Virginia
Stills is someone who is both versatile and a problem to deal with down after down. I saw this first hand at the East-West Shrine Bowl. He can rush over the guard, center and situationally the tackle. If you have someone as versatile as that up front, you will have yourself one hell of a defense.
- Round 1: Alfred Edwards, OT, Utah State
- Round 2: Anderson Hardy, OT, Appalachian State
- Round 3: Isaac Moore, OT, Temple
- Round 4: Truman Jones, DE, Harvard
- Round 5: Earl Bostick Jr., OT, Kansas
- Round 6: Jose Ramirez, DE, Eastern Michigan
- Round 7: Demontrey Jacobs, OT, South Florida
- Round 8: Trey Botts, DL, Colorado State-Pueblo
- Round 9: Destin Mack, CB, Citadel
- Round 10: Dre Terry, LB, Alabama A&M
The biggest offseason acquisition for the Stars was bringing back both of their QBs in Case Cookus and KJ Costello. That at least gives them some semblance of continuity within their program, so now it's all about building from there with this rookie draft.
What I liked most
DE Truman Jones: 6-2 251, Harvard
Jones has the long arms and athleticism that'll make him a problem to deal with on the edge as a professional. I was the color analyst on his game last season vs. Georgetown, and he was impressive and disruptive in that game as well. At the East-West Shrine Bowl, you saw Patriots coach Bill Belichick spend a lot of time coaching up Jones after a rep or two, which tells you that if the greatest coach of all-time sees something in you enough to give you that one-on-one time, then you've got something good to work with.
- Round 1: Lindsey Scott Jr., QB, Incarnate Word
- Round 2: Malik Hamm, DE, Lafayette
- Round 3: Tre'Quan Dorsey, OT, St. Francis University
- Round 4: Ferlando Jordan, DB, Southeastern Louisiana
- Round 5: Isaiah Land, DE, Florida A&M
- Round 6: Nash Jensen, OL, North Dakota State
- Round 7: Taylor Grimes, WR, Incarnate Word
- Round 8: CJ Turner, WR, Southeastern Louisiana
- Round 9: Jacob Slade, DL, Michigan State
- Round 10: Ethan Evans, P, Wingate
New Maulers coach Ray Horton made a splash with his inaugural draft class, as the Maulers landed some potential Year 1 impact players with this class, all the way down to punter Ethan Evans out of Wingate, who is coming off of a stellar Hula Bowl performance.
What I liked most
QB Lindsey Scott Jr.: 5-10 215, Incarnate Word
If you've been following along here at CBS Sports, you've seen me talk about Lindsey Scott Jr. for the past two seasons. He is your classic point guard quarterback who can sling it around the yard. The Maulers revamped their QB room this offseason, clearing out an opportunity for Scott to step right into this role and thrive like he's done at every one of his collegiate stops. To me, this was the best pick of the draft, and should he play for the Maulers this season, they will reap immediate returns on their investment in the 2022 Walter Payton Award winner (FCS Player of the Year).
DE Malik Hamm: 6-2 251, Lafayette College
Hamm was someone who jumped on my radar two seasons ago after speaking with then head coach John Garrett. I was the color analyst for their game against Georgetown, and within the first drive I called his name twice. He's a true pass-rushing presence off the edge and could have an immediate impact as a rookie. Hamm is also coming off of a stellar week of work at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
DE Isaiah Land: 6-2 226, Florida A&M
Land is a unique talent. He's someone who has played on the line of scrimmage as an undersized defensive end, and played it so well that he became a two-time FCS All-American. At the Senior Bowl this year, he showed that playing in an off-ball linebacker role was not as big of an adjustment as many thought. He looked fluid, natural and most definitely athletic -- and capable of making that transition seamlessly as a pro player. This is the type of guy Ray Horton will turn into a superstar.
DB Ferlando Jordan: 5-10 187, Southeastern Louisiana
Jordan is one of my favorite corners in the draft class because he's so technically sound. Everything he does within his process has a purpose, and he executes at a particularly high level. I watched him compete at a high level this past January at the College Gridiron Showcase. During the season he had a solid game against the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns, and is coming from a program that has developed and produced a bevy of pro talent the past 3-4 seasons.