Ranking the top Top 15 players in the USFL

By Evan Willsmore, USFL News Hub

With the USFL Draft concluding a couple of weeks ago, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the best or most notable players that were selected. It’s important to note that there will be a supplemental draft on March 10, which will see 80 new players join the league. Even if the process isn’t officially over, here are what many consider to be the top 15 players currently in the USFL.

15: Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

Team: Philadelphia Stars

In his final two seasons at Michigan, Stribling recorded 15 pass deflections and 6 interceptions. After bouncing around a few NFL practice squads, Stribling would go on to have stints in the AAF, XFL, and CFL. He made an impact in all three leagues, and now has an impressive resume heading into the upcoming USFL season.

14: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond

Team: Pittsburgh Maulers

Lauletta was one of the best quarterbacks at the FCS level for three seasons (2015-2017) throwing for over 10,000 yards and accounting for almost 90 total touchdowns. In 2018, he won the Senior Bowl MVP, and would go on to be a fourth-round draft pick by the New York Giants. Lauletta has only thrown five passes in the NFL, one of which was intercepted. Despite not having many accolades in recent years, Lauletta is ready to take advantage of a fresh start and should be a team leader in Pittsburgh.

13: Brian Allen, CB, Utah

Team: Birmingham Stallions

Allen is finding himself in the spring football world for the first time. He was originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, and has since been a member of five different teams. Simply put, Allen should have no problem being a game-changer for the Stallions, given that he played in an NFL game as recently as last December.

12: Scooby Wright, ILB, Arizona

Team: Birmingham Stallions

Wright dominated college football in 2014, and was arguably the best player in the nation at one point. Unfortunately, after only suiting up for three games the following season, his NFL draft stock slipped dramatically. He would end up being taken with one of the final picks in the seventh round, but still managed to stay on rosters through 2019. Wright also spent time in the AAF and XFL, which has further prepared him for this USFL opportunity. Wright will be a familiar face to both teammates and fans, and perhaps there will be flashes of the potential seen eight years ago.

11: De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan

Team: Pittsburgh Maulers

Smith started his pro career as a receiving back for the Miami Dolphins in 2017, but quickly became known for his running abilities. In 2019, Smith had 6 rushing touchdowns in the AAF. A year later, he became the XFL’s rushing yards leader as a member of the Tampa Bay Vipers. Smith may be exiting his prime at the age of 27, but still appears to have enough gas left in the tank to be at the top of USFL leaderboards.

10: Kyle Sloter, QB, Northern Colorado

Team: New Orleans Breakers

Sloter is one of the older players on this list at 28, but has quietly proved he is a capable pro quarterback. After joining the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Sloter became somewhat of a journeyman. He’s never appeared in a regular season NFL game, but has shined in multiple preseasons. When the wins and losses didn’t count, Sloter threw for over 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns. Additionally, he completed 74% of his passes and recorded ball speeds of up to 58 miles per hour. Sloter can be viewed as somewhat of a sleeper pick, since he was the last quarterback taken in round one. Don’t let the draft position fool you, though, as New Orleans may have found a gem here.

9: Chris Odom, DE, Arkansas State

Team: Houston Gamblers

Odom didn’t play at a large college football program like some other players on this list, but that didn’t stop him from making as many plays as possible. Odom has shined as a defensive lineman, but was also known for his contributions on special teams. Odom’s five blocked kicks were the second-most in Arkansas State history, which helped him get NFL attention. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but didn’t see much action until he landed with the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) in 2019. Odom most recently played for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders in 2021, where he recorded 5 tackles in 3 games.

8: Marquis Lucas, OT, West Virginia

Team: New Orleans Breakers

Lucas was with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020, and was the anchor for the league’s best offensive line. Two Tampa Bay running backs (De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick) finished within the top five for rushing yards, which simply wouldn’t have been possible without a player of that caliber. Lucas should have a similar role in New Orleans, and help complement the arm of Kyle Sloter.

7: Eli Rogers, WR, Louisville

Team: Tampa Bay Bandits

Rogers spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, three of which were under Bandits head coach Todd Haley (offensive coordinator at the time). He had close to 1,000 receiving yards in his NFL career, and would later be a top target in the XFL as a DC Defender. Rogers should have an immediate impact in Tampa’s offense, especially with Jordan Ta’amu throwing in his direction.

6: Avery Gennesy, OT, Texas A&M

Team: Houston Gamblers

Gennesy, similar to another player on this list (Marquis Lucas), was one of the best offensive linemen in the XFL. He was a reliable part of the Houston Roughnecks offense, only allowing a single quarterback pressure on 222 pass-blocking snaps. PJ Walker led the league in passing yards through 5 games, and Gennesy played a big role in making that happen. Gamblers head coach Kevin Sumlin held the same position at Texas A&M while Gennesy was there, so the two already have a connection, and Sumlin now has a guy he can trust.

5: Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

Team: New Orleans Breakers

Taylor is arguably the best wide receiver in Western Kentucky history, recording 3,197 yards and 34 touchdowns over his last two seasons. He would go on to be selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, and traded to the Cleveland Browns two years later. As of 2020, Taylor has over 50 career NFL receptions to his name, and boasts plenty of upside having just turned 27. The Sloter-Taylor duo should definitely be one to keep an eye on as the USFL season progresses.

4: De’Vante Bausby, CB, Pittsburg State

Team: New Jersey Generals

Bausby can be considered a veteran at this point in his pro career, but has seen and done plenty since getting his first NFL opportunity in 2015. He won Super Bowl LII as a member of the Eagles’ practice squad, and after spending time in the AAF, made a comeback with the Denver Broncos. The Generals made a great choice by adding Bausby to their roster, and he should be a strong voice both on the field and in the locker room.

3: Cavon Walker, DE, Maryland

Team: Michigan Panthers

Despite being listed as a defensive end, Walker can also play defensive tackle. This type of versatility was demonstrated with the XFL’s New York Guardians, as he recorded the most sacks in the league (4.5). He also had 5 tackles for loss and 9 quarterback hits. Walker has established himself as a top USFL defensive lineman without having played a snap yet, and it should be a priority for opposing offenses to contain him. If Walker wants to lead the USFL in sacks, it’s less about the guard or tackle he’s going up against, and more about where he’s put on a specific play. Regardless, Walker should give fans plenty of entertainment throughout the season.

2: CJ Marable, RB, Coastal Carolina

Team: Birmingham Stallions

Marable has yet to play in a meaningful professional game, but don’t let that hinder your enthusiasm. In his final two seasons at Coastal Carolina, he accounted for 23 touchdowns on the ground while simultaneously averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Additionally, he had 10 receiving touchdowns over that span, bringing the total up to 33. Marable was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2021, but didn’t make the final roster. Considering he’s only a year removed from college, Marable is still young, and can be developed into an NFL-caliber player with a little more time. The Stallions will help him do just that, and it could give the team (and the league as a whole) some serious credibility in the future.

1: Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Mississippi

Team: Tampa Bay Bandits

The top player on this list might not come as a surprise, since so many people already looked at him this way before the draft. Ta’amu gained some traction during his time with the St. Louis BattleHawks, as he became one of the best quarterbacks the XFL had to offer. Ta’amu has also had his fair share of NFL trips and visits, even though they’ve never amounted to much. Tampa has given Ta’amu some great weapons to work with, and it will be exciting for all fans to see him on the football field again.

Honorable Mentions

Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan (Michigan Panthers)

J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri (New Jersey Generals)

Ahmad Gooden, DE/OLB, Samford (Houston Gamblers)

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