Every USFL team's highest-graded players heading into Week 9

2PP8JX5 BIRMINGHAM, AL - APRIL 22: Memphis Showboats linebacker Greg Reaves (41) rushes on defense against Birmingham Stallions offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson (67) during a USFL game on April 22, 2023 at Protective Stadium in Birmingham. (Photo by Joe Robbins/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'll be diving into every USFL team's highest-graded players each week. Let's get into the numbers ahead of Week 9, including some notes from this past weekend's games.

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

Week 8 Notes

• Breakers WR Johnnie Dixon was the highest-graded offensive player in the USFL in Week 8, securing nine of his 12 targets for 135 yards and two scores. Two of the catches were contested.

• Showboats EDGE Greg Reaves has recorded a 90.0-plus pass-rush grade in three of the past four weeks.

• Panthers OT Josh Dunlop, after allowing eight pressures on 76 pass-blocking snaps in the first four weeks of the season, has let up only two pressures in the past three weeks on the same number of snaps.

• Panthers S Sean Malone earned a 94.5 run-defense grade in Week 8, the highest of any player in any week this season.

Birmingham Stallions

  1. EDGE Dondrea Tillman (89.7)
  2. QB Alex McGough (86.8)
  3. DI Jordan Thompson (80.3)
  4. DI Khalil Davis (80.1)
  5. CB Lorenzo Burns (77.6)

Make it three straight weeks of recording seven quarterback pressures for Dondrea Tillman, who has quickly become one of the USFL's premier pass rushers. His 33 pressures on the season now rank tied for third, while his 13 run stops are the second most among edge defenders.

Alex McGough was nearly flawless again in Week 8, although a second-quarter fumble against the Stars slightly dropped his grade. He completed four of his seven pass attempts targeted 20 or more yards downfield this past week, recording two big-time throws, 90 yards and a touchdown on such plays.

Houston Gamblers

  1. RB Mark Thompson (87.7)
  2. WR Justin Hall (82.4)
  3. LB Ronheen Bingham (74.2)
  4. EDGE Isaiah Chambers (73.6)
  5. CB Nick Grant (72.5)

The USFL MVP race is seemingly between the aforementioned Alex McGough and Mark Thompson, who continues to churn out yards and touchdowns. He added another two scores in Week 8 to his league-leading tally (13), all while racking up 98 rushing yards — 66 of which came after contact. Thompson's elite 90.6 rushing grade is far and away the top mark among USFL running backs.

After a few down weeks, Ronheen Bingham rebounded with an 82.6 overall grade in Week 8 — his best mark since Week 3. That effort included an astounding eight quarterback pressures on only 18 pass-rushing snaps. Bingham's 35 quarterback pressures on the season ties him for the most in the USFL.

Memphis Showboats

  1. S Kyree Woods (92.0)
  2. EDGE Greg Reaves (84.3)
  3. EDGE Jeff McCulloch (84.0)
  4. WR Vinny Papale (81.5)
  5. DI John Atkins (81.3)

Kyree Woods did not play in Week 8 due to injury but remains the USFL's highest-graded player. Here is what we wrote last week about the standout safety:

Woods' streak of 80.0-plus game grades came to an end in Week 7, although he still recorded an above-average 71.2 mark. For the season, he has allowed 13 catches on 20 targets for 80 yards, with no touchdowns, two interceptions and two forced incompletions.

Greg Reaves is on a hot streak. The same player who carried a 59.4 overall grade from Weeks 1 through 4 has earned an elite 91.9 grade from Weeks 5 through 8. During that latter run, his 25.3% pass-rush win rate ranks second and his 93.2 pass-rushing grade leads the USFL.

Michigan Panthers

  1. EDGE Breeland Speaks (89.4)
  2. S Kai Nacua (80.8)
  3. DI Levi Bell (78.5)
  4. RB Reggie Corbin (78.0)
  5. OT Josh Dunlop (77.7)

For the first time since Week 2, Breeland Speaks reached four pressures in a game this past week, one of which was a sack. His 14 run stops on the year lead all edge defenders, and he has missed only three tackles all season.

Reggie Corbin is one of the USFL's most productive running backs after contact despite modest stat lines. He has forced 24 missed tackles on the ground this season, the fourth most, while averaging 3.7 yards after contact per attempt, the third-best mark.

New Jersey Generals

  1. EDGE Hercules Mata'afa (85.0)
  2. DI Kenneth Randall (78.7)
  3. RB Darius Victor (78.5)
  4. LB Chris Orr (76.9)
  5. WR Alonzo Moore (75.3)

Now tied for the league lead in quarterback pressures (35), Hercules Mata'afa added a sack, one hit and three hurries to his tally in Week 8. He also earned a season-high 73.8 run-defense grade after making two stops — a solo tackle that leads to an offensive failure.

Darius Victor in Week 8 continued his streak of forcing at least two missed tackles on the ground in every game this season, but the Generals dropped to 2-6 with a loss to the Showboats. Victor did earn a season-high 79.2 receiving grade after hauling in six of his eight targets for 39 yards and a score.

New Orleans Breakers

  1. LB Shaheed Salmon (90.3)
  2. EDGE Anree Saint-Amour (80.0)
  3. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson (75.5)
  4. WR Johnnie Dixon (74.8)
  5. RB Wes Hills (74.5)

Shaheed Salmon continues to take on a part-time role for the Breakers' defense, logging 11 snaps in Week 8. He also continues to dominate on that workload, recording two tackles for loss or no gain on only six run-defense snaps.

The second-highest-graded quarterback in the USFL, McLeod Bethel-Thompson boasts the second-lowest turnover-worthy play rate among quarterbacks this season. He has the Breakers sitting at 5-3 after a Week 8 effort in which he made two big-time throws.

Philadelphia Stars

  1. EDGE Adam Rodriguez (79.3)
  2. G Shamarious Gilmore (78.5)
  3. S Cody Brown (74.2)
  4. T Jake Burton (73.4)
  5. CB Amani Dennis (72.7)

Adam Rodriguez tallied another three quarterback pressures in Week 8, including a sack, to bring his season total to 30 (fifth most). His 72.7 pass-rush grade this season is a top-10 mark among edge defenders.

Across 314 pass-blocking snaps this season, Shamarious Gilmore has surrendered all of eight quarterback pressures. Only one was a sack. He pairs his season-long 84.4 pass-rush grade with the second-best run-blocking grade (69.9) among interior offensive linemen.

Pittsburgh Maulers

  1. LB Reuben Foster (88.1)
  2. S Eli Walker (79.0)
  3. CB Mark Gilbert (78.8)
  4. DI Boogie Roberts (78.2)
  5. CB Keith Gipson Jr. (75.3)

Reuben Foster had his first tough week of the season, letting up three catches on three targets into his coverage for 65 yards. Still, for the season he is the only USFL linebacker with an 80.0-plus run-defense grade and a 70.0-plus coverage grade.

Unfortunately for Walker, the only target into his coverage in Week 8 went for a touchdown — one that required an impressive toe-tap. His open-target rate for the season is down to 38.9%, the second-best mark among safeties who have faced at least 10 targets.


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