11 Notable Players Rumored to Be in the USFL Draft Pool

Photo courtesy of xflnewsroom.com

I was asked about what players may be involved in the USFL and will be eligible for the USFL draft this week.  Let me tell ya, saying it's a crapshoot is an understatement.  Aside from the players that have formally announced their involvement via their personal Twitter or Instagram, like former Pitt Wide Receiver Aaron Mathews, most of the players are just speculated to be involved. 

It is also a constantly evolving player landscape.  So much so, by the time you’re reading this, it may be outdated.  The pool has not been formally released by the USFL as of this writing, and there’s no guarantee it will be.  So, while I really want to keep you all in the know, I want to preface by saying this is my best effort at giving you the most notable players in the draft, or at least who should be notable to Pittsburgh sports fans.

The draft for the USFL is different than the NFL.  Not only is it a snake draft, but picks are made by position.  Quarterbacks will be picked first.  Rounds 1-12 will be tomorrow, February 22nd and rounds 13-35 will be February 23rd.  35 rounds may surprise some, but remember they are drafting entire rosters.  80 more supplemental players will then be drafted in March.

Landry Jones - QB

One quarterback rumored to be in the pool, and should be familiar to Steeler fans, is Landry Jones.  Jones was a star at Oklahoma before getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.  Jones started eight games for the Steelers and was not especially effective.  He then was signed and released by both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders without getting any playing time for either team.

Jones signed with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL on August 15th, 2019.  The Steelers then reached out to the Renegades, hoping to sign Jones back after Roethlisberger’s season ending injury in September of 2019.  The XFL blocked the Steelers from doing so, and Jones had a decent season after rehabbing back from a training camp knee injury.  Jones may want to reunite with old Steeler OC Todd Haley, the head coach of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits.

AJ Bush - QB

AJ Bush was a dual threat quarterback for Illinois in 2018.  In addition to throwing for nearly 2,000 yards, the 6’4, 225lb QB also ran for 733 yards in his senior year for the Illini.  At that size, Bush is certainly tough to take down, and racking up those stats in the Big 10 is nothing to scoff at.  Bush has been worked out by several NFL teams, most recently the Dallas Cowboys in 2019.

Trent Richardson -RB

Another name simply rumored to be connected with the USFL is former Cleveland Brown running back Trent Richardson.  Richardson most recently has played in the Mexican LFA, but he started for the Browns for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. 

Richardson was a stud for Alabama, and was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2011.  He rushed for over 1600 yards and had 21 rushing touchdowns for the Tide.  The Browns selected Richardson with the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, which ultimately makes him a bust.  Also, at 31 years old, it’s tough to still be an effective running back with all the wear and year of the position.  However, he still has more NFL experience than most of the players in the USFL draft pool.

Ray Lawry - RB

Ray Lawry is the leading rusher in the state of Virginia’s FBS history, and is easily the best running back to ever play at Old Dominion.  He is also ninth all-time in Conference USA history with 4,090 career rushing yards and tied for third in the conference with 45 rushing touchdowns.  While he does not have the NFL experience that a guy like Richardson comes into the draft with, he is much younger at 26 years old.

Aaron Mathews - WR

Aaron Mathews should be a familiar name to Pitt Panther fans.  Mathews is most known for his pivotal role in the "Pitt Special" play that clinched a Panther victory over UCF in 2019.  Pitt was trailing 34-28 and had a 4th and goal.  A.J. Davis took a direct snap and then flipped the ball to Mathews.  Mathews rolled out to his right and threw a strike to quarterback Kenny Pickett for the winning score with 59 seconds left. 

This win snapped a 27 regular season game win streak for the Knights. He became the first Pitt wide receiver to throw a TD pass since 2011.  In that same game, Mathews blocked a punt that resulted in a score.

In his Pitt career, Mathews played in 30 games had 44 receptions, and 580 yards.  He had a lone touchdown reception in 2019 against Syracuse.  He also added 6 total tackles in coverage and had that one very important passing touchdown for Pitt.  Definitely a biases opinion, but I, for one, would like to see Mathews in another Pittsburgh uniform, even if it is purple and orange.

Cameron Echols-Luper - WR

Cameron Echols-Luper played two great college football seasons for Arkansas State and Western Kentucky.  In his junior year with Arkansas State he was named by Sporting News as the Fastest Receiver in the Sun Belt and mentioned by NFL.com as College Football’s Most Freakish Athlete. 

In his senior year, he had 42 receptions for 473 yards and 11 touchdowns.  There is no record of Echols-Luper playing competitively since 2017, but if he has kept his speed, he’d certainly be a valuable deep-threat.

Abdul Beecham – OL

Abdul Beecham was a 3-year starter at Kansas State.  The Wildcats website describes him as “a big offensive lineman”, but at 6’3”, 330 lbs, he seems about average.  In Beecham’s senior year at Kansas State, they were the third highest rushing team in the Big 12, which is notable for an O-lineman.  From what I can tell, he hasn’t played professionally since 2018, and maybe my Power 5 bias is showing, but I think a starter at a Big 12 school deserves every bit of a look.

Tyson Graham Jr - Safety

Switching over to the defensive side now, Tyson Graham Jr is a safety from South Dakota with NFL-level talent.  He’s on the older side at 28-years old, but he has spent several training camps with NFL teams and spent some even more time on NFL practice squads.  He was a team captain for the South Dakota Coyotes and the team’s 4th highest tackler from the safety position his senior year. 

Graham was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in May of 2017.  Unfortunately, he did not receive any live action in an NFL game, but also signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018.  Neither time did he get on the field for regular season play, but getting valuable training and practice time with two NFL teams should translate into elite play in the USFL where many do not have that.

Ike Brown – DB

Isaiah Brown was a 2-year starter at Florida International University.  He is one of the younger players in the pool with his last competitive football experience being his senior year in 2019.  Brown was signed as an undrafted free agent to Buffalo in 2020, and reportedly would have made the Bills final roster out of camp.  He, however, chose to forego the season because of Covid.  However, having the talent to make an NFL roster gives him a leg up on many others I have seen speculated to be in the pool.

Prince Charles Iworha – DB

Prince Charles Iworha played college football at Western Kentucky, and then went on to play professionally for the Canadian Football League as a member of the Montreal Alouettes.  PCI was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft.  That makes him older than most of the pool, but has crucial NFL training and professional playing experience.  Among this pool, getting drafted to the NFL is something to brag about, so look for Charles Iworha to be drafted high in the DB rounds.

Chase DeMoor – DL

Chase DeMoor is more notable for his social media presence than his play.  I’m not sure how well he will do in the league, but he was on the reality show “Too Hot to Handle”, and is known for having the “best hands on TikTok.”  This wouldn’t make me draft him, but among this player pool where most names are unknown, DeMoor seemed notable for his fame off the field.

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