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4 USFL stars with best probability to make NFL roster


Peter King is on vacation until July 18, and he lined up some guest writers to fill his Monday spot on Football Morning in America. Today’s guest is Paul Burmeister, a play-by-play voice and studio host for NBC Sports.

So with acknowledgement that I could have buried the lead, let’s get right to it: Which USFL players will we see within the NFL this fall?

I went right to the source: Jim Popp, USFL Director of Player Personnel. Playing defensive back at Michigan State for Nick Saban within the mid-80s arrange Popp for greater than three a long time in skilled football personnel, primarily within the Canadian Football League, where he was a component of 11 Grey Cups, winning five of them.

“The NFL isn’t coming [to the USFL] in search of a starters,” Popp told me. “The potential for these players lies within the back end of an NFL roster, which is continuously being overturned.”

Popp followed up with two points to bear in mind when considering which USFL players is likely to be within the NFL this fall:

• Due to Covid and the additional season of eligibility granted to school players, the pool of undrafted free agent rookies was larger than ever.

• The abundance of young, available and willing players would cost the teams less money than signing USFL players. In line with Spotrac, the minimum salary for rookies this season is $705,000; second-year players $870,000; third-year players $940,000.

Since many of the players within the USFL have had an NFL cup of coffee, or two or three, they’re dearer. They potentially fill the identical roster spot and play the identical role for more cash.

Those hurdles are reality this summer. But they’re not barriers. They won’t prevent the USFL’s best from getting a shot.

So, who will get the possibility to beat the chances?

Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin led the USFL in rushing yards. (Getty Images)

Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin

Corbin was the primary name out of Popp’s mouth. The Panthers running back led the USFL in rushing yards per game.

I called his final regular season game last week against the Pittsburgh Maulers.  The Pittsburgh head coach is Kirby Wilson, who spent 23 seasons as an NFL running backs coach. Along with his RB expertise, I asked, “Which running back impressed you essentially the most this season?” He answered quickly: Reggie Corbin.

I also asked Corbin’s own coach, Jeff Fisher, an NFL head coach of 20 seasons, which of his Panthers players belonged within the NFL. He began with Corbin.

Corbin, 26, continues to be waiting for his first shot within the NFL. He averaged 6 yards per carry in rushing for over 2,000 yards at Illinois from 2016-19. But Corbin didn’t play in a game of any kind from 2020 until the USFL this spring.

His one and only NFL probability became a Covid casualty. The Seahawks flew in Corbin for a workout late in 2021, but when he tested positive for Covid upon arrival in Seattle. As an alternative of going to the ability to check out, he went to a hotel. For every week and half, he waited for the green light. The Covid cases were so high within the NFL at that time of the season, he was sent home, before he could even work out.

“Heartbreaking” was the last word he said to me about that have.

So now he awaits a call, confident it is going to come. “I’m grateful for the USFL,” Corbin told me.

Houston Gamblers LB Donald Payne

Donald Payne got here in with an NFL résumé that got my attention before the season began.

  • 4 seasons within the NFL
  • 30 games played

In 2017 for the Jaguars, Payne was in the highest three for special teams tackles within the NFL. He stuck with Jacksonville in 2018, and in 2019, he began the last five games of the season. Payne produced at an eye-opening level, recording a minimum of 12 tackles in all five games.

But Payne needed surgery on each feet after the season, and the Jaguars released him prior to the 2020 season. He spent a while on the Washington practice squad that yr and went to training camp with San Francisco in 2021 but didn’t make the team.

The USFL gave Payne a probability to prove he was healthy, and to remind NFL scouts that whilst an undersized middle linebacker (6-0, 225), he wouldn’t get swallowed up inside, could fend off 330-pound linemen and run down backs.

The ultimate regular-season Defensive Player of the Week award belongs to @USFLGamblers LB @7PayneTrain 🎲🔒 pic.twitter.com/nAozNx01xG

— USFL (@USFL) June 21, 2022

“All of us got here to the USFL with different whys,” Payne told me. “Mine wasn’t to get back to an NFL camp. I’m on a mission to get back to an NFL 53.”

Two games into the USFL season, Payne served notice, racking up 34 tackles. By the top of the season, he was the one USFL player with over 100. “I needed the USFL to portray I’m still the identical Donald I used to be in 2019,” he said. “I did what I needed to do.”

The percentages are against Payne and his USFL comrades as they eye roster spots within the NFL. But Johnston brought up a degree to think about.

“Our guys are in football shape,” Johnston said. “That’s a bonus versus players who’ve been in shorts and have only done minicamps and OTAs. I’m excited to see what happens when the pads come on because they’re already used to it.”

Latest Jersey Generals WR/PR KaVontae Turpin

Turpin, the USFL MVP, led the league in receiving yards on a team that ran the ball greater than every other within the league. And he showed his game-breaking abilities over the weekend with a punt return touchdown against Philadelphia within the semifinals.


What a run by @KaVontaeTurpin

📺: @FOXSports pic.twitter.com/LNUy5c5iit

— Latest Jersey Generals (@USFLGenerals) June 25, 2022

In production meetings, Latest Jersey coach Mike Reilly spoke of how much fun he was having devising alternative ways to get Turpin the ball.

Popp almost ran out of how to explain him: “Electric. Fast. Quick. Makes you miss. Can take successful.”

I feel Turpin is a wonderful candidate to make a team as a fourth or fifth wide receiver, and first punt returner.

Houston Gamblers DE Chris Odom

Odom led the league in sacks and compelled fumbles. Not bad for a player whose calling card was stopping the run before attending to the USFL.

Odom is 27 and has NFL experience with Atlanta, Washington and Green Bay. After I asked him which of those stops made the most important impression on him, he didn’t hesitate: Green Bay.

Odom was with the Packers for the 2017 season. He had all the time been a “hand on the bottom” defensive end, but in Green Bay’s scheme, defensive ends Clay Matthews and Nick Perry stood up, often looking like outside linebackers. This gave Odom a complete latest view of the offense and a compete skill set as a defensive end. He displayed that in dominating the USFL this spring.

Read more in the complete Football Morning in America column

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