Among all drafts in sports, there are winners and losers. While it may be too early to tell, USFL fans can predict who were the biggest winners and losers.
USFL fans finally got to see their teams’ rosters filled out with the first USFL Draft since 1986, but the first in the rebooted league. Eight teams in the league went through 12 rounds on Tuesday and concluded with 21 more rounds on Wednesday. The draft was set up with different phases depending on the position of that particular round. Roughly 500 players who have already signed contracts with the league awaited for their names to be announced on both days.
With every draft comes big surprises, sleeper picks, and some questionable picks. It’s a risk for every team when they begin their journey on building out what they think could be a championship roster. Fans, writers, and experts will critique and dissect every pick made, but we truly won’t know the end result until the league crowns a champion in July.
Here is a shortlist of winners and losers from this USFL Draft and how it will shape the full season for all eight teams:
Winners of the USFL Draft
Tampa Bay Bandits Gets Steal in Jordan Ta’amu
While the Michigan Panthers’ pick of former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson makes for a great story, head coach Jeff Fisher made an interesting pick, to say the least. The door swung wide open for the Tampa Bay Bandits to pick one of the most established quarterbacks in the draft with selecting Jordan Ta’amu number two overall in the first quarterback round.
Ta’amu was widely regarded as the top quarterback in the draft and many fans were surprised to see him not go number one to the Panthers. He proved his worth in the XFL as he led the St. Louis Battlehawks to a 3-2 record and was third in the league in passing yards (1,050) and quarterback rating (101.3). Ta’amu also was seventh in the XFL in rushing yards at 217 yards. Moving away from the numbers, Ta’amu protects the ball well, can run the ball better than any quarterback in the league, and is an efficient passer.
The Bandits got even better with depth at quarterback by bringing on former Memphis quarterback Brady White. Tampa Bay knocked it out of the park at quarterback and already makes them one of the favorites to win the USFL title.
New Jersey Generals Stacked at Running Back
While the quarterback position was a big topic on Tuesday, it was the running backs on Wednesday who will gain the most attraction from the offense. The New Jersey Generals selected former Ohio State back Mike Weber and former Texas A&M back Trey Williams.
XFL fans will recognize Williams from his time with the Seattle Dragons as he was a part of the deepest running back depth chart in the league. He has been a backup running back in the XFL and the AAF with the San Antonio Commanders. A veteran to spring football, Williams gives the Generals the depth needed to make their running game dangerous.
While Weber has hopped around the NFL the past three years, it was his play at Ohio State that will give Generals fans some excitement. He ran for 2,772 yards and 24 touchdowns in three playing seasons with the Buckeyes. Weber has 4.47 speed and makes his ability to utilize his speed a threat out of the backfield.
When defense prep for the Generals, their number one focus will be forcing the pass because New Jersey will have their sights on giving Weber and Williams the ball.
New Orleans Breakers Cornerbacks are Coasting
Looking at the overall look to a secondary, New Orleans has put together one of the best secondaries in the USFL. Their top two picks in the secondary got them off to a good start with former Virginia Tech corner Adonis Alexander and former Ole Miss corner Derrick Jones. Both were sixth-round draft picks in the NFL and both played in regular-season games.
Manny Patterson and Ja’len Embry both have experience in NFL camps. Embry is a former product to The Spring League as well.
The experience of all four corners helps the Breakers be able to build a formable defense where the strength comes from their pass defense.
Losers of the 2022 USFL Draft
New Jersey Generals Picking Ben Holmes Over Paxton Lynch
Ben Holmes has all the capabilities of being a successful quarterback: mobile, accurate, and a winner. He proved that during his time with Tarleton State as he only lost two games as a starter. While he’s not over six feet tall, he’s got a lot of talent and potential to be a solid starter in the USFL.
With that being said though, New Jersey missed out on getting a quarterback who has played on the highest level: Paxton Lynch.
Yes, the argument can be made that Lynch was a first-round bust in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, but was he given a fair shake in the NFL? He only played in five NFL games and only started four. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler were the main guys during those two seasons there. While he could have played better to get the starting job, it doesn’t seem as though he got a full season to prove himself.
Lynch has more professional experience than Holmes does and would make for a more qualified starter. A big thing to keep in mind is Lynch only recently became a free agent after getting released from the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders on Tuesday. Even with that, Lynch would have made more sense to pick in the second quarterback round than De’Andre Johnson.
Holmes and Johnson should make for a fun quarterback controversy early on in camp, but Lynch could hop right in as the starter and help support a Generals team that already will be dangerous in the running game.
Pittsburgh Maulers Receiving Core
This shouldn’t be a knock on the receivers that Pittsburgh drafted as they did pick up talented players, but there was a lot to be desired with this group.
Jeffrey Thomas is the headliner of the group.
Thomas was the first receiver chosen for Pittsburgh and played at the biggest school with the University of Miami. While he’s under six feet tall, speed is the name of his game running at a 4.45 forty-yard dash.
Most of the other receivers are in the same boat as Thomas where they might have joined NFL camps, but no real playing time. Delvon Hardaway has experience with Brian Woods as he played in The Spring League for the Aviators.
This group could become one of the top groups in the league, but on paper, it’s a young core that will need time to get experience. The good news: that’s what the USFL is all about.
Fans Not Experiencing Draft Days
Fans got to enjoy tracking the USFL Draft from social media through Twitter. Most media outlets like XFL NewsHub had live streams from YouTube with full coverage of all the picks. One little issue is fans didn’t get a chance to see many videos of it.
The NFL Draft and NBA Draft are usually one of the most-watched sporting events of the year as fans love watching who will be added to a new team. Fans had to be a little more patient and wait for their favorite teams to post on Twitter what their picks were.
Not having it televised or streamed live from them on social media was a missed chance to get more eyes on the league. Having heavy-hitting sports figures announce the first eight picks of the draft was a cool touch to the experience. It still felt like they could have taken advantage of having the television partnership with FOX Sports or NBC to help with at least one night of television coverage.
The XFL was able to use social media and their own website to live stream their draft for fans to watch. It would have been cool for the USFL to find a way to do so themselves. They’ll be able to make up for it during the season with studio shows dedicated to the USFL prior to games.
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