USFL Post Draft Power Rankings: Evaluating the Michigan Panthers, Shea Patterson, Paxton Lynch, and more

The alternative football world ascended down to Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday night as the USFL kicked off its return with a 35 round player draft.

Former NFL, CFL, and college players around the country spend the past two days checking their phones hoping to get the call from the latest spring pro-football league. Now that the dust has settled and the league’s eight teams have been filled. Let’s rank the USFL’s team’s from best to worst.

1-Michigan Panthers

Longtime NFL head coach Jeff Fisher put together quite a draft on the USFL’s biggest night since the 1980s. With experts wondering who the first pick would be, Fisher pulled the trigger on former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson. He did however also select former NFL first-rounder Paxton Lynch later in the draft, creating some quarterback controversy already.

Defensively, the Panthers added former Western Michigan standout Eric Assoua along with NFL veteran Cavon Walker in the defensive line. On the backend, former Cologne Crocodiles defensive back, Dominique Martin will be a key part of the defense.

2-New Orleans Breakers

The Breakers had the last pick in the quarterback round and opted to go with former Northern Colorado passer Kyle Sloter. Sloter has a sky-high ceiling as he has a rocket arm and is a dual-threat runner. I like his chances in the upstart league.

With the next pick in the draft, New Orleans selected Davin Bellamy, maybe the best player available in the whole USFL draft pool. Bellamy was a feared pass rusher during his days at Georgia and managed to last four seasons in the NFL before finding himself in the upstart league earlier this week. Former European League of Football standout Dartez Jacob looks to capitalize off of Bellmany’s pass-rushing from the safety position.

3-Tampa Bay Bandits

Bandits head coach Tod Haley, like many players in this league, is looking for a second chance to prove he can hack it in the big leagues. The former NFL head coach took quarterback Jordan Ta’amu with the second overall pick. Ta’amu was one of the XFL’s biggest stars back in 2020 and has a chance to be the face of the league this April.

The Bandits also chose former “Last Chance U” star John Franklin and Alabama defensive end Mehki Brown later in the draft.

4-New Jersey Generals

The Generals made the surprise of the draft selected Ben Holmes as their QB with the fourth overall selection. Holmes has flown relatively under the radar since his playing days at Tarleton State. New Jersey did get some insurance drafting another “Last Chance U” quarterback in Deandre Johnson later.

The Generals run game should be strong as they chose former Ohio State back Mike Webber. They also selected TCU speedster Kavontae Turbin and defensive end Kolin Hill who played against each other last year in Europe.

5-Pittsburgh Maulers

The Steel City representative selected Kyle Lauletta with their first pick in the draft. A former FCS All-American at Richmond, Lauletta entered his pro career with more hype than almost any other current USFL passer. However, the fourth-round pick flamed out of the league quickly. In his short NFL career, he was 0-5 passing with one interception.

The Maulers did get some tough players embodying their city snagging Carlo Kemp a talented defensive lineman from Michigan.

6-Birmingham Stallions

The Stallions ride into the season looking to create a strong fan base in Birmingham as the city will be the leagues hub for the 2022 season. Defensively they selected former ex Arizona standout linebacker Scooby Wright along with athletic pass rusher Aaron Adeoye.

At the quarterback position, the Stallions will saddle up with Alex Mcgough. Mcgough briefly played in the NFL after four seasons at Florida International. However, head coach Skip Holtz did select quarterback Jmar Smith later in the draft, whom he coached at Louisiana Tech for four seasons. Anticipate Holtz to go with Smith if things get bumpy in Birmingham.

7-Houston Gamblers

True to their namesake, the Gamblers made many several boom or bust selections on draft night, most notably the selection of quarterback Clayton Thorson. The 6’4″ passer looks the part of an NFL signal caller and did play well at times during his days at Northwestern. Yet, he never took the next step and was in and out of the NFL in just three seasons.

Defensively, Houston picked up edge rushers Ahmad Gooden and Dominque Davis. The two should work well with the defensive back pairing of Jamar Summers and Will likely.

8-Philadelphia Stars

Head coach Bart Andrus went with his gut selecting Division III quarterback  Bryan Scott third overall.  Andrus coached Scott in The Spring League one year ago and was so impressed he pulled the trigger on him again this week. Scott is the self-proclaimed “Aaron Rodgers” of Div. III after a record-breaking career at Occidental. Since then, Scott has had many pro workouts but has never made a CFL or NFL roster.

The Stars also selected big bodied Diondre Overton out of Clemson at the receiver position. On the other side of the ball former Cincinnati Bengal Freedom Akinmoladun will anchor the Philadelphia defense in the trenches.

With kickoff looming in April these players will have to get to know each other quickly as Fox and League investors are expecting the USFL to be a hit. After the draft the talent pool turns out to be similar to what many had predicted, now it’s up to the coaches to mold together this group of has beens, overachievers, and never was’s into a TV product that emulates pro football.

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