The NFL Draft has just recently wrapped and NFL teams have moved into the minicamp and summer camp stage of the off-season schedule. Earlier this year, the USFL, who’s season starts in the middle of April, held a college draft where teams draft the rights to certain players. The USFL draft is conducted in the same manner as the CFL draft, which gives options to certain players in case they’re cut from the NFL. For this article, I’m going to breakdown the New Orleans Breakers’ draft and which draft picks are likely to eventually report, if they choose the USFL as the best option for them in the future,
Unlikely to Report
Tyler Scott, WR Cincinnati
The 5th pick in the USFL draft was Tyler Scott from Cincinnati. He was one of the most surprising names to get drafted by the USFL considering his middle round projection from officials around the NFL. And, as predicted, Scott was drafted in the 4th round of the NFL draft to the Chicago Bears, putting a dagger into any hopes that Tyler Scott was going to report any time in the near future. As always, being a fourth round pick doesn’t guarantee success or that you’ll have a long career in the NFL, but as far as draft capitol is concerned, it’s an important piece of making an NFL roster and remaining on the team. Fourth round picks in the NFL only have three year contracts, with no fourth year option, so it’s possible that after the three year mark, if Scott is cut and not making any progress, he could report, assuming the USFL is still active.
Scott had a strange, but memorable career at Cincinnati. A starter as a sophomore, Scott’s numbers were a bit underwhelming considering how explosive the offense was for the Bearcats in 2021. As a junior, Scott’s numbers jumped and that’s when he started creeping onto draft boards as a mid-round pick, He finished his Junior year at Cincinnati with 54 receptions for 899 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Bears have completely revamped their wide receiving corps, but with Chase Claypool’s contract expiring soon and nothing promised to Darnell Mooney for the future, if Scott impresses, he could not only make that roster and stay; he could become an every week starter for the team in the near future.
Drafted But Could Report
Dante Stills, DT West Virginia
With their 6th round pick in the USFL draft, the Breakers selected Dante Stills. Dante Stills is a bit of an older prospect being a part of the 2018 freshman class. He was an absolute terror on the defensive line for the Mountaineers and has a good combination of interior pass rushing abilities and excellent run stuffing skills. Stills played with his brother at West Virginia before his brother moved onto the NFL. Dante chose to remain at West Virginia, using his COVID eligible year, instead of entering the NFL draft in 2022.
In the 2023 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Dante Stills in the sixth round. The draft capitol isn’t ideal for the DT, but DT was an extremely deep class this year and Stills, being an older prospect, slipped into the late rounds of the draft. Unfortunately for Stills, having a late round grade and investment in the NFL means he has an uphill battle. Luckily for Stills, he should see some interest from other teams if Arizona decides to release him. With Stills age, he makes an intriguing prospect to keep an eye for the next couple years. If Stills is to report to the USFL and the Breakers, he’ll likely report to the team in year four of the league.
Top Prospect Likely To Report
Darius Hagans, RB Virginia State
While the Breakers had ten draft picks, I decided to focus on just these three because of their interesting scenarios. Hagans, coming from Division II VA State makes the perfect candidate the spring leagues. The Division II section of college football generally doesn’t receive a lot of love and a lot of talented players slip through the cracks of the NFL system. Hagans, and players like Hagans, are the prime example as to why these spring leagues are so important for players. In the 2023 USFL draft, Hagans was drafted in the seventh round.
Hagans possesses perfect NFL size and speed, but being an older prospect, similar to Dante Stills, Hagans is at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to running backs, in the NFL. Hagans was extremely explosive in college accumulating 2,069 yards over his career at VSU and a staggering 4.9 yards per carry. Hagans went undrafted in the NFL draft, but signed as a UDFA with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are one of the worst landing spots for a prospect like Hagans due to the deep talent pool at that position. It would take an injury in a camp for him to be able to move up the depth chart. Special teams may be the only way he makes the roster.
Due to Hagans being undrafted, I find it very likely that Hagans could get cut and not end up on a practice squad. Despite his prolific career at VSU, where he also played under current XFL Head Coach Reggie Barlow, the NFL has a very particular system of doing things and it’s usually the smaller school players who end up being sacrificed to the roster cuts. With the way Wes Hills, the current starting RB for the Breakers is playing, it’s highly possible that Hills ends up on a roster for the preseason. His talent could land him in a situation where he makes a 53-man roster. It would pave the way for Hagans to join the Breakers next year and have a path to become a starter for the team. Hagans could likely join the team for 2024, regardless.
The USFL took a lot of flack for holding a college rights draft, but I understand why they did it and the option they’re providing for these players is exactly why these spring leagues are so important to the game of football. Will the draft work and will it make sense to continue doing it? Who knows? But it’s worked nicely for the CFL for years, so I don’t see why it couldn’t work for the USFL. The question just becomes for these teams, which players are worth the risk and how much time do you spend actually researching and putting resources into the draft? Time will tell with that answer, but for now, the reward outweighs the risk, so you make the best of it.
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