Players in USFL Playoffs Who Deserve a Shot in the NFL

Alex BallentineJune 17, 2022

Players in USFL Playoffs Who Deserve a Shot in the NFL

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    The first regular season of the new USFL is coming to a close. Four teams will soon compete for the championship in Canton, Ohio.

    That also means USFL players will soon be eligible to sign with NFL teams.

    While the USFL gives players the opportunity to extend their careers, it can also be a second chance for some players to wind up back in the NFL.

    After the championship game on July 3, USFL players can be added to NFL rosters. Multiple players should generate some NFL interest.

    Here's a look at some playoffs-bound USFL players who might deserve a shot in the NFL.

WR Jonathan Adams, New Orleans Breakers

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    Jonathan Adams' NFL career got off to a bumpy start. He went undrafted after racking up over 1,000 receiving yards in his final season at Arkansas State, signed with the Detroit Lions, got cut before training camp and was suspended for six games.

    Potential has been the key word for Adams. He played for Arkansas State's basketball team as a sophomore. Football has been his sole focus for only a few years, so a developmental opportunity like the USFL is huge for a prospect like him.

    The 6'2", 210-pound receiver has made the most of his second opportunity.

    Adams has been the most productive player on a Breakers squad that also features former NFL receiver Taywan Taylor and Ohio State product Johnnie Dixon. He has hauled in 30 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns in nine games.

    Adams received a 4th-5th round grade from the B/R Scouting Department in 2021, who pegged him as a future role player. He's used his time with the Breakers to prove he could still live up to that projection.

    Adams could help out any NFL team looking to add a big, contested-catch receiver to its arsenal.

    Potential Fits: Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens

CB Channing Stribling, Philadelphia Stars

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    Channing Stribling bounced around four different NFL rosters from 2017 to 2018 before playing in the AAF, Canadian Football League, XFL and now the USFL.

    But the cornerback has elevated his level of play in the USFL to the point that he might get another NFL look.

    Stribling has been a ball hawk for the Stars, leading the league in interceptions with seven. The former Michigan Wolverine has shown a knack for baiting quarterbacks into throwing his way and aggressively breaking on the ball.

    Stribling might have needed the experience and development that he's received while playing in various leagues. He isn't an elite athlete for the position, as evidenced by the 4.6-second 40-yard dash he ran at the 2017 NFL combine.

    Stribling's instincts and ball skills give him a shot to contribute, though. At 6'1", he has the size some teams covet at the cornerback position. He would do well with a team that relies heavily on zone coverage, which would allow him to keep things in front of him.

    Potential Fits: Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, New York Giants

WR Victor Bolden Jr., Birmingham Stallions

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    Much like Jonathan Adams, Victor Bolden Jr.'s early NFL career was derailed by a suspension. The shifty receiver was suspended for four games in 2018 due to a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

    Bolden has since spent time on the practice squads for the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

    Bolden will likely face a more difficult climb to an NFL roster spot based on his age (27), but he has turned heads with his performance in the USFL to this point.

    The 5'9", 175-pounder is elusive and quick, making him an ideal candidate to take snaps in the slot and be special teams weapon. He has led the 8-1 Birmingham Stallions in receiving while also handling kick and punt return duties.

    He could catch on in the NFL as a returner who also gets reps as a slot receiver.

    Potential Fits: Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Washington Commanders

WR KaVontae Turpin, New Jersey Generals

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    Jonathan Adams and Victor Bolden Jr. have made strong cases for NFL teams that are looking for wide receiver depth, but New Jersey Generals wideout KaVontae Turpin has been more productive than both of them.

    Turpin showed off speed and elusiveness when he led the Big 12 in punt return yardage at TCU in 2017. On the Generals, he's shown that he's still dangerous as a returner while showcasing his skills as a receiver, too.

    Going into the final week of the USFL regular season, Turpin leads the league in receiving yards and has the only punt return for a touchdown.

    The 25-year-old has played in the Fan Controlled Football League and had a stint with a professional team in Poland. His performance in the USFL should open the door for an NFL camp invite.

    TCU dismissed Turpin after his arrest on a charge of assault on a family member with bodily harm. He went undrafted and did not sign with an NFL team. Turpin pleaded guilty and served two years of deferred adjudication probation.

    At a pro day in 2019, Turpin was timed with a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and posted a 40-inch vertical at 5'7" and 158 pounds.

    He's another player who could serve as a slot receiver and return man in the NFL.

    Potential Fits: Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Washington Commanders

QB Case Cookus, Philadelphia Stars

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    Philadelphia Stars quarterback Case Cookus wasn't even the starter at the beginning of the season. He's making that seem like a foolish decision at this point.

    Cookus is fourth in the USFL in passing yards and is tied for second in touchdown passes despite making only six starts. Some of the players in front of him have a three-start advantage.

    Bryan Scott began the year as the Stars' starter, and he played well enough until a knee injury ended his season. Since then, Cookus has led the offense to score 35 points twice and 46 points against the Michigan Panthers.

    In that game, Cookus went 20-of-26 for 247 yards, fourt touchdowns and no interceptions.

    The former Northern Arizona product brings NFL size to the table at 6'4" and 205 pounds. He also showed off his athleticism with a 79-yard touchdown run against the Panthers.

    Cookus' ability to escape pressure and deliver accurate balls down field should be enough to intrigue an NFL team. He could be a camp arm at the very least, but he has the potential to develop into an NFL backup.

    Potential Fits: Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams

Edge Davin Bellamy, New Orleans Breakers

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    Davin Bellamy has been on the cusp of the NFL for each of the past four seasons.

    He's put in two stints with the Houston Texans, but he got waived both times in the final roster cuts. He's also signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.

    Given the opportunity to play against lesser competition, Bellamy has reminded NFL coaches why he's worth another shot. The 6'5", 259-pound outside linebacker was the Defensive Player of the Week in Week 1 with six tackles and three sacks, and he has since been named to the USFL All-Defense team.

    Breakers head coach Larry Fedora lauded Bellamy for his leadership.

    "We knew he could be very good in this league. He's a heck of a professional, the way he handles himself on and off the field. Everything that he does, including being a good leader," the former North Carolina coach said, per Fox Sports.

    Bellamy can play some outside linebacker and has proved his ability to get after the quarterback. The 27-year-old is worth another look for teams that need depth on the edge.

    Best Fits: Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers

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