USFL Mock Draft 2022: All the best players by position: QBs to DBs

The USFL will take the next step in its second coming February 22 and 23 as the eight teams will choose their next stars in a unique draft format.

The league’s draft will follow a snake format with a rotating first pick. Each round the eight teams will only select players from a designated position. Day one, February 22 will follow this process.

  • Round 1: Quarterbacks
  • Rounds 2-4: Edge rushers/defensive ends
  • Rounds 5-7: Offensive tackles
  • Round 8-11: Cornerbacks
  • Round 12: Quarterbacks

Day two will cover all the big boys and beyond as such: rounds 13-17: Wide receivers, rounds 18-19: Safeties, round 20: Centers, round 21: Inside linebackers, rounds 22-23: Offensive guards, rounds 24-26: Defensive tackles and nose tackles, rounds 27-28: Running backs and fullbacks, rounds 29-31: Outside linebackers, round 32: Kickers, round 33: Punters, round 34: Tight ends/H-backs, and finally round 35: Long snappers.

Rather than desperately try to predict all 280 players that will be drafted, we’ll choose to analyze the top pick and the following seven players in each position group, thus predicting the first round for every position group. We’ll start of course with the all-important quarterback position.

Quarterback: Top Pick, Michigan Panthers: QB Jordan Ta’amu (Ole Miss)

Ta’amu made a name for himself in 2020 as one of the XFL’s best quarterbacks. The Ole Miss product spent 2021 bouncing between the practice squad and active roster for different NFL teams. With a great USFL season, the 24-year-old could position himself as a full-time NFL passer, just like former opponent PJ Walker did last season.

2. Tampa Bay Bandits: Landry Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Renegades XFL)

3. Philadelphia Stars: Bryan Scott (Spring League Generals, Occidental)

4. New Jersey Generals: Kelly Bryant ( Missouri)

5. Houston Gamblers: Ryan Willis (Chicago Bears, Virginia Tech)

6. Birmingham Stallions: Ryan Mallet ( New England Patriots, Arkansas)

7. Pittsburgh Maulers: Shea Patterson (Michigan)

8. New Orleans Breakers: Quinton Flowers ( Tampa Bay Vipers XFL, South Florida)

Edge Defender: Top Pick, New Orleans Breakers: Adewale Adeoye (Utah State)

While at Utah State, Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded interior defender in the Mountain West Conference due to his 24 stops. He most recently was an impact player in The Spring League.

2. Pittsburgh Maulers: Chase Demoor (Spring League Lineman, Central Washington)

3. Birmingham Stallions: Bryson Young (Oregon)

4. Houston Gamblers: Eric Assoua (Western Michigan)

5. New Jersey Generals: Malik Hammer (Jackson State)

6. Philadelphia Stars: Kolin Hill (Berlin Thunder, Texas Tech)

7. Tampa Bay Bandits: David Gilbert (Tennesse Titans, Miami)

8. Michigan Panthers: Ahmad Gooden (Denver Broncos, Samford)

Offensive Tackle: Top Pick, Pittsburgh Maulers: Michael Rodriguez (Louisana Tech)

Rodriguez impressed as a solid offensive tackle in the pass heavy Air Raid offense for The Spring League champions, the Linemen. At 6’6″, 300 pounds, Rodriguez has the quick feet and strength to keep his quarterback clean this spring.

2. Birmingham Stallions: Marquis Lucas (West Virginia)

3. Houston Gamblers: Tyler Catalina (Ottawa Redblacks CFL, Georgia)

4. New Orleans Breakers: Jean Luc-Childs (Louisville)

5. Michigan Panthers: Jon Dietzen (Wisconsin)

6. New Jersey Generals: Coy Conk (Indiana)

7. Philadelphia Stars: Darrin Paulo (Detroit Lions, Utah)

8. Tampa Bay Bandits: Jake Campos (Iowa)

Cornerback: Top Pick, Tampa Bay Bandits: Charles James (Charleston Southern)

The ex-Houston Texans corner was a star of HBO’s hard knocks for his versatilely and stylish socks. Since then, James has played for several NFL teams, before trying his luck in the AAF and Houston Roughnecks in the XFL.

2. Philadelphia Stars: Prince Charles Iworah (Atlanta Falcons, Western Kentucky)

3. New Jersey Generals: Alofi Laguda (Los Angeles Rams, Colorado)

4. Michigan Panthers: Antonio Reed (Nebraska)

5. New Orleans Breakers: Ike Brown (Buffalo Bills, Florida International)

6. Houston Gamblers: Marcus Lewis (Maryland)

7. Birmingham Stallions: DeAndre Ferris (Ottawa Redblacks, Western Kentucky)

8. Pittsburgh Maulers: JJ Dallas (Louisana-Monroe)

Wide Receiver: Top Pick, Birmingham Stallions: Dontez Byrd (Atlanta Falcons)

In two years at Tennesse Tech, Byrd recorded 152 catches, 1,936 yards, and 13 touchdowns with the Golden Eagles, breaking several school records in the process. He then played professionally for five teams in four leagues (NFL, AAF, XFL, and IFL), so the USFL would be his fifth. Byrd is also a dangerous kick returner and excellent route runner.

2. Houston Gamblers: Rashad Ross (DC Defenders XFL, Arizona State)

3. New Orleans Breakers: Keenan Reynolds (Baltimore Ravens, Navy)

4. Pittsburgh Maulers: Matt Hazel (Miami Dolphins, Lazio Ducks)

5. Tampa Bay Bandits: Cam Echols-Luper (BC Lions, TCU)

6. Michigan Panthers: Darrell Adams Jr. (Graz Giants, Azusa Pacific)

7. New Jersey Generals: Ben Putman (The Spring League Lineman, Nevada)

8. Philadelphia Stars: Devin Smith (New York Jets, Ohio State)

Georgia Southern Donald Rutledge Jr.

Safeties: Top Pick, Philadelphia Stars: Donald Rutledge Jr. (Georgia Southern)

At 6’1 215 pounds Rutlege Jr. is a physical safety who can tackle in space. The 24-year old spent time with the Arizona Cardinals and is eager to earn himself another chance at the NFL. Expect him to be one of the league’s biggest hitters.

2. New Jersey Generals: Joey Banks (Buffalo)

3. Michigan Panthers: Denzel Johnson (Tennesse Titans, TCU)

4. Tampa Bay Bandits: Jarey Elder (Milano Seamen, West Chester)

5. Pittsburgh Maulers: KJ Sails (Los Angeles Rams, South Florida)

6. New Orleans Breakers: Tyson Graham Jr. (Indianapolis Colts, South Dakota)

7. Houston Gamblers: Curtis Collins (Notre Dame)

8. Birmingham Stallions: Brandon Mayes (The Spring League Generals, Northern Illinois)

Centers: Top Pick, New Jersey Generals: Fredrick Mauigoa (Washington State)

Trained in Washington State’s pass heavy offense, Mauigoa will be essential for protecting the league most prized players. The Former Pac-12 standout recently won the Spring League Megabowl championship with the Lineman.

2. Michigan Panthers: Demetrius Knox (Seattle Seahawks, Ohio State)

3. Tampa Bay Bandits: Kirk Kelley (Troy)

4. Philadelphia Stars: Steven Gonzales (Buffalo Bills, Penn State)

5. Birmingham Stallions: Avery Gennesy (Cleveland Browns, Texas A&M)

6. Pittsburgh Maulers: Deveric Gallington (Texas Tech)

7. New Orleans Breakers: Jalen Stone (Pikesville)

8. Houston Gamblers: Jalen Allen (Charlotte)

Inside Linebackers: Top Pick, Houston Gamblers: Brandon Marshall (Denver Broncos)

No not the famous wide receiver, instead, Denver’s hard hitting middle linebacker from 2013-2018. The former Superbowl champion hasn’t played in the NFL since 2019. However, he’s hungry to make a pro comeback and started by playing in The Spring League last summer.

2. New Orleans Breakers: Terence Garvin (Pittsburgh Steelers, West Virginia)

3. Pittsburgh Maulers: Edmond Robinson (Atlanta Falcons, Newberry)

4. Birmingham Stallions: Dale Warren (Stuttgart Surge, UT Chattanooga)

5. Philadelphia Stars: Angelo Garbutt (Missouri State)

6. Tampa Bay Bandits: Tim Walton (Syracuse)

7. Michigan Panthers: Rashad Payne (Orlando Predators, Rheinhart)

8. New Jersey Generals: Maurice Wright (Kuopio Steelers, Northwestern Oklahoma State)

Offensive Guards: Top Pick, New Orleans Breakers: Abdul Beecham (Kansas State)

Beecham is an experienced offensive lineman who was a standout guard in the Big 12. Following his collegiate career, he played in the XFL and briefly for the LA Rams.

2. Pittsburgh Maulers: Dwayne Wallace (Kansas)

3. Birmingham Stallions: Diashon Dixon. (Baltimore Ravens, San Diego State)

4. Houston Gamblers: Matt Burrell (Ohio State)

5. New Jersey Generals: Sean Brown (Mississippi Valley State)

6. Philadelphia Stars: Josh Fields (Spring League Conquerers, ECSU)

7. Tampa Bay Bandits: Niko Culnan (Albany)

8 Michigan Panthers: Lawrence Keys (UNC Pembroke)

Freedom Akinmoladun #92 Photo: Getty Images

Defensive Tackle: Top Pick, Michigan Panthers: Freedom Akinmoladun (Nebraska)

Akinmaladun is a strong defender who has been on the fringes of the NFL since dominating in the Big Ten. The former Cornhusker suited up for the Jets and Bengals during his short NFL career.

2. Tampa Bay Bandits: Reggie Howard (Toledo)

3.Philadelphia Stars: Kalani Vakameilalo (Chicago Bears, Oregon State)

4. New Jersey Generals: Toby Johnson (New York Gaurdians, Georgia)

5. Houston Gamblers: Darrius Moragne (Chicago Bears, Kanasas)

6.Birmingham Stallions: Dominique Davis (New York Jets, UNC Pembroke)

7. Pittsburgh Maulers: Jerome Johnson (Indiana)

8. New Orleans Breakers: Javier Edwards (Colorado)

Running back: Top Pick, New Orleans Breakers: Jhurrell Pressley (New Mexico)

Pressley has the speed to be one of the League’s brightest stars. It wasn’t long ago that Pressley used his 4.4 speed and strong frame at 210-pounds to be a dangerous runner in the AAF and XFL.

2. Pittsburgh Maulers: Deveon Smith (Michigan)

3. Birmingham Stallions: Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns, Alabama)

4. Houston Gamblers: Madre London (Cologne Centurions, Michigan State)

5. New Jersey Generals: Shane Simpson (Virginia)

6. Philadelphia Stars: Ladarius Galloway (FCF, UT-Martin)

7. Tampa Bay Bandits: Tra Minton (South Alabama)

8. Michigan Panthers:  Xavier Johnson (Hamburg Sea Devils, South Alabama)

Eric Pinkins was a sixth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 Photo: AP

Outside Linebacker: Top Pick, Tampa Bay Bandits: Eric Pinkins (San Diego State)

Pinkins was a sixth-round pick for the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 after playing college football at San Diego State University. The versatile linebacker has the range to make pass deflections and get into to the backfield and finish the play by sacking the quarterback.

2. Philadelphia Stars: Terrill Ranks (Miami Dolphins, New Mexico State)

3. New Jersey Generals: Mekhi Brown (Alabama)

4. Michigan Panthers: Sherrod Williams (Lenior Rhyne)

5. New Orleans Breakers: Basil Jackson (New Yorker Lions, Tarleton State)

6. Houston Gamblers: Jeremiah Spicer (Spring League Aviators)

7. Birmingham Stallions: Jalen James (Benedictine)

8. Pittsburgh Maulers: Diondre Wallace (Towson)

Tight ends, Top Pick, Pittsburgh Maulers: Matt Seybert (Michigan State)

Seybert is a big bodied tight end with NFL experience spending time with the LA Rams. At 6’4 250 pounds Seybert was originally recruited as defensive end before moving to offense. He’s still relatively new to the position making his high ceiling even higher.

2. Birmingham Stallions: Brandon Barnes (Detroit Lions, Grand Valley State)

3. Houston Gamblers: Jace Sternberger (Green Bay Packers, Texas A&M)

4. New Orleans Breakers: Mason Sikes (Western Illinois)

5. Michigan Panthers: Dylan Stapleton (JMU)

6. New Jersey Generals: Kalias Robertson (Alabama A&M)

7. Philadelphia Stars: Mavin Saunders (Las Rozas Black Demons, Florida State)

8. Tampa Bay Bandits: Matthew Wilkerson (Edward Waters)

Other Notables QBS: QB Deandre Francois, (Florida State), QB David Pindell (UConn), QB Stetson Bennett (Georgia), QB Connor Cook (Oakland Raiders, Michigan State), QB Jackson Erdmann (St. Johns), QB Brandon Silvers (Troy), QB Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Brows, Texas A&M), QB Luis Perez (Texas A&M Commerce),  AJ Bush (Illinois), QB Josh Johnson (New York Jets & others), and QB David Moore (Central Michigan).

Other notables players: RB Devwah Whaley (Dresden Monarchs, Arkansas), DT Ja’Michael Edwards-Lott (Seinajoki Crocodiles, Nichols State), WR/KR Kavontae Turbin (Wroclaw Panthers, TCU), and Thomas Schaffer (Chicago Bears, Stanford)

The league is depending on a strong player pool as fans are awaiting the return of pro football in the spring. Many of these players have extended their careers on the fringes of the NFL, CFL, Arena league, and even playing in Europe to earn a second chance at stardom. Fox and league officials are hoping that the players can provide enough star power and skill to get football fans to latch onto the reborn league this April.

Read more about the Draft here

Read more about the USFL’s salaries here

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football