Every USFL team's highest-graded players from the 2023 regular season

2PNFTKF BIRMINGHAM, AL - APRIL 15: New Jersey Generals defensive end Hercules Mata'afa (93) during the USFL game between the Birmingham Stallions and the New Jersey Generals on April 15th, 2023 at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

PFF has you covered for all offseason leagues, in addition to grades and analysis for the NFL and college football. We've dived into every USFL team's highest-graded players throughout the year. Now, let's get into the numbers from the 2023 regular season.

Be sure to also check out our XFL highest-graded players.

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Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9

Birmingham Stallions

  1. EDGE Dondrea Tillman (90.0)
  2. QB Alex McGough (87.7)
  3. LB Quentin Poling (87.2)
  4. DI Jordan Thompson (82.7)
  5. DI Khalil Davis (77.5)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: QB Alex McGough
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: EDGE Dondrea Tillman

A late-season tear during which Dondrea Tillman amassed 30 quarterback pressures over his final five games pushed him into elite territory: a 90.0 PFF overall grade. He was one of five USFL players this season to earn a 90.0-plus pass-rushing grade.

Alex McGough both took care of the ball (top-ranked 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate) and found success on calculated deep shots (second-ranked 91.6 passing grade on 20-plus-yard throws) this season. He is the only USFL quarterback from the past two years to earn an 80.0-plus season grade.

Houston Gamblers

  1. RB Mark Thompson (86.8)
  2. WR Justin Hall (77.7)
  3. S Dayan Lake (77.3)
  4. EDGE Isaiah Chambers (75.3)
  5. EDGE Ronheen Bingham (74.9)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: WR Justin Hall
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: S Dayan Lake

Mark Thompson proved to be the toughest running back to take down in the USFL this season, forcing a league-high 45 missed tackles and churning out the second-highest yards after contact per carry figure (3.7). He added 14 rushing touchdowns and no fumbles to complete a 90.6 rushing grade.

Consistency propelled Dayan Lake to the No. 3 spot, as he earned a sub-65.0 game grade only twice all season. He allowed just two 15-yard completions into his coverage over the last seven weeks of the season, and the lone touchdown against him came in Week 1.

Memphis Showboats

  1. S Kyree Woods (92.0)
  2. EDGE Jeff McCulloch (83.8)
  3. EDGE Greg Reaves (81.6)
  4. DI John Atkins (79.3)
  5. WR Vinny Papale (76.7)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: S Kyree Woods
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: S Kyree Woods

There was no better coverage safety in the USFL this season than Kyree Woods, albeit for only part of the year due to injuries. Of the 20 targets into his coverage, 13 were caught for just 80 yards. Woods picked off two others and broke up another pair.

Vinny Papale endured a quiet finish to his 2023 campaign, failing to surpass 40 receiving yards in each of his final four games. However, consider that eight of his 33 catches on the year were contested — tied for the second most in the league. Papale routinely made tough grabs and saw fewer than four targets in only two games.

Michigan Panthers

  1. DI Levi Bell (91.8)
  2. S Kai Nacua (83.1)
  3. EDGE Breeland Speaks (78.9)
  4. S Sean Mahone (77.5)
  5. OT Josh Dunlop (76.4)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: EDGE Breeland Speaks
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: DI Levi Bell

Levi Bell's first snaps this season came in Week 5, and he proceeded to earn a combined 71.7 overall grade across his first three games. That quickly turned into a 92.7 grade across his final three regular-season games, the highest mark of any USFL player at any position over the span. He finished the year as the second-highest-graded defender, behind only the Showboats' Kyree Woods.

Josh Dunlop was the only USFL tackle to earn 70.0-plus run-blocking and pass-blocking grades. He did surrender 15 quarterback pressures on the year, but only five were sacks or hits.

New Jersey Generals

  1. EDGE Hercules Mata'afa (90.4)
  2. RB Darius Victor (79.5)
  3. LB Chris Orr (79.4)
  4. DI Kenneth Randall (75.8)
  5. CB DJ Daniel (75.0)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: LB Chris Orr
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: EDGE Hercules Mata'afa

With 43 quarterback pressures and a 22.9% pass-rush win rate, Hercules Mata'afa was a man possessed off the edge. The former figure led the USFL, and the latter ranked second among edge defenders. He was one of four edge defenders to earn a 90.0-plus pass-rush grade this season.

While Mark Thompson was the USFL's most productive running back, Darius Victor was the most efficient. He averaged a league-leading .38 missed tackles per carry and 4.8 yards after contact per carry.

New Orleans Breakers

  1. S Adonis Alexander (80.2)
  2. EDGE Anree Saint-Amour (75.8)
  3. WR Johnnie Dixon (75.5)
  4. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson (72.9)
  5. WR Jonathan Adams Jr. (72.9)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: RB Wes Hills
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: S Adonis Alexander

Linebacker Shaheed Salmon (90.7 PFF grade) missed out due to the snap count threshold but would otherwise claim the top spot for the Breakers.

Safety was one of the strongest positions in the USFL this season, and Adonis Alexander still stood out. He was one of only three at the position to face at least 20 targets in coverage and allow 10 or fewer catches.

Johnnie Dixon dropped only two of his 58 targets on the season, and he enjoyed a couple of big outings down the stretch. Most notable was his Week 8 effort against the Panthers, in which he accounted for 135 receiving yards, two scores and a season-high 88.7 game grade.

Philadelphia Stars

  1. EDGE Adam Rodriguez (77.2)
  2. G Shamarious Gilmore (74.5)
  3. T Jake Burton (71.8)
  4. S Cody Brown (71.2)
  5. WR Corey Coleman (70.2)
  6. CB Amani Dennis (70.2)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: G Shamarious Gilmore
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: RB Matt Colburn II

Adam Rodriguez was equally as effective as a pass rusher and run defender this season, putting together a few splash performances in both facets. In Week 6, he racked up 10 quarterback pressures — tied for the most of any USFL player in a game this season — on only 30 pass-rush snaps.

With only 10 quarterback pressures allowed all year and 15.4% of his run-blocking snaps having earned a positive grade (second best), Shamarious Gilmore proved to be one of the USFL's most well-rounded offensive linemen. He recorded a 75.0-plus pass-blocking grade in eight of 10 outings.

Pittsburgh Maulers

  1. LB Reuben Foster (90.5)
  2. DI Boogie Roberts (79.9)
  3. CB Mark Gilbert (79.2)
  4. S Eli Walker (78.8)
  5. S Arnold Tarpley III (77.1)
  • Highest-graded player Wks 1-5: LB Reuben Foster
  • Highest-graded player Wks 6-10: LB Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster returned in Week 6 from a two-week layoff due to injury and left no doubt about his status as one of the USFL's best linebackers. Over that span, the former NFL first-round pick recorded three quarterback pressures, eight tackles and three stops in run defense, and only five catches allowed in coverage. Overall, he was the league's lone linebacker to play 150-plus snaps and earn a 90.0-plus overall grade.

The well-rounded Boogie Roberts ranked tied for third in run stops (13) and quarterback pressures (23) among USFL interior defenders. He was one of only four players at the position to earn 70.0-plus grades both as a pass rusher and a run defender.


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