Getting this far is a massive achievement for the USFL. The next challenge the league will face once the season is over is to organize its roster for 2023.
It seems very likely that the NFL will lose some of its current players to the NFL. These players aren’t sure what NFL stars will fire. They are more likely to fill strong roles. However, teams are always looking to go deep into a 90-player roster during the sabbatical, so capturing a few projects full of potential with modern on-field gaming experience should interest a handful of teams.
Who are the most likely NFL prospects? Here’s a look at some of the best bets for making the leap.
More: Explaining how the inaugural USFL Postason works
Players to watch in the 2022 USFL Playoffs
Here is a demo of the best players to watch for the USFL teams associated with the playoffs.
Kyle Slaughter, QB, Breaker
Sloter has the best skill set of any USFL quarterback. He finished second in the league by passing yards with 1798 and helped the Breakers become one of the league’s top offenses. Sloter had only nine touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions, but he was much more accurate to start the season before a groin injury troubled him. He should get a chance to compete for a backup job at an NFL camp after being named the quarterback for the All-USFL offensive team.
Case Cocos, QB, Stars
Cocos wasn’t the star starter early in the season, but once he took charge of Brian Scott, he showed his solid arms and excellent accuracy. Cookus completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,334 yards, 12 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He cut his stride late in the season and showed better mobility than expected. Like Sloter, Cookus has the potential to become an accurate, high-quality NFL backup.
Case Cookus ➡️ Devin Gray for 6!
The stars extend their lead to 10.
– NBC Sports May 7, 2022
J’Mar Smith, QB, Stallions
Smith doesn’t have the same pass cap as Sloter and Cookus, but he has good pocket mobility and generally avoids swings. He passed 1,573 yards and 10 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Smith should get a chance to compete for a place on the list and could be considered an evolutionary corridor.
MORE: The complete schedule for the USFL 2022 Qualifiers including dates, times and TV channels
Bo Scarborough, right back, Stallion
Stallions already had a good attack before they signed with Scarbro. After that, they were some of the most efficient units in the league. Scarbro averaged 4.2 yards per carry and used his large physical frame to weaken his defenses. It can be a powerful spinning force and a great goal line weapon at the NFL level.
Darius Victor, RB, The Generals
Victor is 28 years old, but he still has a lot of stomping on the tyres. He showed that while playing in the USFL, he was the driving force behind the top-ranked Generals’ rushing attack, collecting 577 rushing yards and nine rushing yards in the league. He is densely built at 5-8, 209 pounds and has enough power, turning and speed to be a decent NFL player.
Matt Colborne II, Right Back, Stars
Colburn improved as the season started, just like the star attack. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and made eight quick touchdowns as a Philadelphia fullback. He makes good passes and is the most explosive to come back in the playoffs.
KaVontae Turpin, WR, The Generals
Speaking of explosives, Turpin is a true playmaker and might be the best offensive weapon that generals have. The 25-year-old led the USFL in receiving 540 yards and the New Jersey used him in a variety of ways. Turpin, named USFL MVP and All-USFL Return Man, is a weapon with the ball in his hands and has potential as a tool weapon and return man in the NFL.
Maurice Alexander, WR/KR, STARZ
Speaking of returning men, Alexander has to draw attention from NFL teams looking to upgrade their kicks and kick-backs. Alexander averaged a league-high 31.5 yards per kick-back and 12.6 yards per kick-back. He has great vision and a quick ability to find open lanes. He’ll likely get a chance to prove himself at the NFL level, and some might see the former Florida International quarterback as a tool-type player when attacking as well.
Davin Bellamy, D, Breakers
Bellamy broke into the USFL scene by scoring three bags in the first Breakers game. He scored just 5.5 in the season, but generated a lot of pressure and pressure to open space for the breakers’ superb linebacker duo. He can be a great turning pass forward in any defense thanks to his 6-5 size.
DeMarquis Gates, LB, Stallions
Scooby Wright III got a lot of attention early on going into the Stallions, but Gates eventually established himself as the best midfielder in the team as he made 62 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss. Gates can play a variety of roles within the linebacker corps and has a solid 6-2, 221 pounds. His playmaking ability will make him an off-season look.
Fontay Diggs, LP, Crushers
Diggs Gates is similar in that he has good sportsmanship and can be a flashy playmaker. He had six USFL first picks and totaled 75 tackles and seven TFLs in The Breakers strong defense. Diggs is a great downhill hitter who has proven that he can hold on to the cover thanks to his sport. If things don’t work out in the NFL, Diggs can always return to the CFL, where he previously played for Edmonton.
New Orleans Breakers are back after a 38-year hiatus. Fontay Diggs with pickaxe six. 7-0 star crushers.
– Garland Gillen April 17 2022
Jerrod Fernandez, LB, Breaker
Fernandes has a slight advantage over the Diggs when discussing New Orleans’ best player. With 86 passes, nine TFLs and 1.5 sacks as a key, he’s the glue player into the middle of the Breakers defense. He doesn’t do as well in coverage as Diggs – or at least doesn’t make as many plays – but at 6-1, 226 pounds, he can be a strong, downhill player and a contributor to special teams.
Shalom Lawani, S, Generals
Luani’s playing throughout the 2022 USFL season is a big part of the reason the Generals only lost one game. He’s been a playmaker who does everything on safety and is second in the league with five interceptions despite missing two games through injury. Luani hit some big hits during the season, and given his past experience as a safety and special teams reserve team, he should get a chance to compete for a place on the NFL roster.
Channing Stripling, CB, Stars
Stribling played in seven matches for the stars. He had seven interceptions in those contests, which was fine to lead the USFL. Stribling has good intuition and an impressive size at 6-2, 180 pounds, and has been with four different NFL teams since he wasn’t developed in 2017. Maybe he’ll be able to last this time if he performs at the All-USFL level. He may improve his soccer skills as far as the numbers indicate.
MORE: USFL Playoff Ticket Prices for Pro Football Hall of Fame
Other USFL players who can make NFL rosters
There are plenty of other talented players in the NFL who have seen their seasons end prematurely. Four teams did not participate in the USFL postseason, but at least a few of their players should get a chance to establish themselves as part of the NFL’s 90-player rosters during the holiday period.
Below is a demo for players to keep an eye on such as depth of the back end roster and potential pre-season stars.
Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Bandit
Ta’amu was the leading passer in the USFL, with 2014 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 starts for the bandits. He was far from perfect – he threw 12 interceptions and completed just 57 percent of his passes – but he was often under pressure and showed good mobility (365 fast yards). The NFL team might look at him and see a player with developmental potential. The CFL could do the same and sign him to serve as a short-term midfielder.
– Tampa Bay Bandits (USFLBandits) May 5 2022
Reggie Corbin, RB, Panthers
Corbin was one of the most explosive contestants in the USFL. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry, which was second only to Tony Brooks James among the racers. Corbin, 26, had 519 yards in just eight (six games) for the Panthers and would have led the league in fast yards had it not been for a late-season injury. The home-run threat should find a home thanks to his transformation, though NFL teams will want to see if his apparent speed translates to the NFL.
Cheyenne O’Grady, TE, Bandit
O’Grady was one of the USFL’s best tight ends, tied for seventh in the league in receiving yards with 371 on 32 hits with two touchdowns. He weighs 6-4, 256 pounds and has the receiving skills NFL teams look for on their tight ends. The question is whether it can develop as a inhibitor.
Jaron Jones, OT, Bandit
Jones (6-6, 320 pounds) was an all-USFL pick in the right tackle and drew plenty of praise from coach Todd Haley. NFL teams are always looking for quality offensive linemen, and given that Jones has been solid on the right tackle, he should get a chance to fight for a swing tackle job.
Chris Odom, D, Gamblers
Odom won the USFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and is arguably the league’s best player in 2022. He scored a whopping 12.5 sacks in 10 games and was nearly unquenchable all season. He had eight TFL’s, six forced grabs and got his hands on some kicks, too. Odom weighs in at 6-4, 262 pounds and had two bags in four games with Washington in 2019. He appears to be a great choice for passing dribble passes and the NFL teams should be lining up to sign him.
Donald Payne, LB, Gamblers
Payne is one of the few USFL players who can rival Odom as the best defensive player in the league. Payne topped the league with 117 tackles and did a little bit of everything for the gamblers. He had six TFLs, three interceptions, two bags, and a forced trip. He was a true Houston three-man and a tentative five-man player with Jaguar in 2019. As such, he may be the player most likely to stay on the NFL’s 53-player roster.
DP on a mission 🚀🤫
– Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) May 30, 2022
Frank Jenda, LB, Panthers
Jenda didn’t do much in the coverage, but the former San Jose State star was an instinctive attacker for the Panthers. He’s made 90 tackles a season, good for second in the league, and that’s included six TFLs. Jenda is 6-1, 230 pounds, so he was built to be a double player and a contributor to special teams.
Will Likely, CB/KR, Gamblers
Gamblers had a nail in every level of their defense. He probably had four interceptions – good for a third in the USFL – and also caused some forced balls in his 63 tackles. He has a nose on football and ranks fourth in the USFL in averaging punts at 12.2 yards per return. The combination of ball skills and return skills make it an interesting backup.
Cole Murphy, K, Panthers
Murphy’s 60-yard field goal wasn’t a USFL record for long, as the Maulers’ Ramez Ahmed attempted 61 yards in the final weeks of the season. However, Murphy was more accurate than Ahmed, scoring 11 of 12 kicks for a USFL field goal percentage of 92, compared to Ahmed’s 14 of 22. Murphy’s accuracy and big leg make him an ideal target for teams looking to rival kicker. Don’t be surprised if you hear his name a lot during pre-season.
USFL kicker Cole Murphy hits a 60-yard field goal 😳
– Bixuys (Bixuys) May 29, 2022
Brandon Wright, P, Bandit
Wright was the NFL player of the season, averaging 48.4 yards per kick and putting 16 of his shots inside the 20-yard line, which is good for a third in the USFL. Wright was one of two punters with a net average of over 40 yards per kick (it was 41.1), had seven touchdowns on kickoff, and tied for third in the league.