The United States Football League (USFL) is making a comeback this year, rebooting the spring league that ran from 1983-1985. The season is set to kick off in April with 8 new franchises - the Birmingham Stallions, Pittsburgh Maulers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Houston Gamblers, New Jersey Generals, Michigan Panthers, New Orleans Breakers and Philadelphia Stars.
The 10-game regular season will be held in Birmingham while the playoffs will be hosted in Canton, Ohio. But before they hit the turf, the clubs held the inaugural USFL draft where 280 players signed contracts to join the 38-man rosters. The two day event held 12 rounds on Tuesday with the remaining picks made on Wednesday morning.
No.1 Overall Pick
The Michigan Panthers were first up in the draft and started the show by selecting former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson as the No.1 overall pick. In 2020 Patterson even had a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs and received some interest from the Baltimore Ravens but couldn’t find a permanent spot in the NFL.
The 2022 USFL draft required teams to pick players by pre-set position groups in each round - beginning with quarterbacks in Round 1, followed by defensive tackles and edge rushers in Rounds 2 through 4, offensive tackles in Rounds 5 through 7, cornerbacks in Rounds 8 through 11 and back to quarterbacks in Round 12. The first round therefore gave each of the 8 USFL teams their starting quarterbacks for the upcoming season:
The USFL’s unique drafting structure did not end there. In an attempt to ensure equality of pick selections, the initial draft order was determined by a lottery. The selection order was then altered to a snake format, giving each team the top selection for two positions and the final picks for other positions too. Despite this, three teams stood out with some great picks in the draft - the Tampa Bay Bandits, Birmingham Stallions and Pittsburgh Maulers.
Tampa Bay Bandits
The Bandits made great picks with third- and fourth-round edge rushers Michael (Mike) Scott and Adam Shuler but arguably secured the most talented QB in the player pool - Jordan Ta’amu - with the No.2 overall pick. Having only spent 2 years in the SEC his experience comes with some doubt, but he has consistently shown his talent in his time there and beyond. We look forward to seeing more of this in the coming months:
The Bandits also bagged a huge pick in the later rounds - selecting Corbin Kaufusi, a former BYU linebacker, defensive lineman and offensive tackle who stands at 6-foot-9 and 325-pounds. Since BYU, Kaufusi has spent time as a developmental blocker with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints. The Bandits are looking to be one of the strongest sides heading into the season.
With every fixture of this inaugural season to be hosted by Birmingham, the Stallions must have felt some pressure to deliver a top team to the home fans. Head coach Skip Holtz and his scouts certainly succeeded in round 1, as they picked up a dual-threat playmaker in quarterback Alex McGough.
McGough is the only QB, other than Russel Wilson, to have been picked up by the Seattle Seahawks since Pete Carroll and John Schneider joined forces back in 2010. He spent 4 years showcasing his arm-talent and athleticism as a starter for Florida International. McGough is certainly one of the most accomplished and reliable USFL players to come out of the draft, so get ready to see more of this in a Stallions uniform:
Edge rusher Aaron Adeoye, was the second pick for Holtz. He may be more of a risk as a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder that spent most of his collegiate career on the basketball court. But, his promise is undeniable given his highlight reel and even the Baltimore Ravens interest in his talent.
Although they may have been second-to-last in round 1, the Maulers made a great selection with perhaps the most pro-ready QB in the draft - Kyle Lauletta. Plenty of NFL experience - most notably his 2018 stint with the New York Giants - and his MVP Senior Bowl performance, has made Lauletta a proven pocket-passer with great anticipation, awareness and a spectacular arm. Pittsburgh locals should be more than excited to watch him recreate these highlights in Maulers colours.