Big Change in QB Room for the Birmingham Stallions

2023 USFL Quarterback Tier List

The USFL just finished its 2nd season a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be a fun exercise to put every QB into tiers to show where I view them all going into the offseason. I’m including Every Quarterback that finished the 2023 season on a USFL roster even if they have left since then.

Also remember that this is just my opinion and my thoughts on these QBs are subject to change. I’m also doing an XFL version of this which should be out soon on XFL Newsroom.

Tier 1: Plus Starters

This tier is QBs that I feel add something special to their offenses that put them above the typical league starter. These are also the players I feel have shown enough to get serious NFL looks.

1. Alex McGough, Birmingham Stallions

The 2023 USFL MVP is an uncontroversial QB1 for this list. McGough finished the season with 2,140 Passing yards, 20 TD to only 5 INTs, and a 67.4% completion percentage with another 403 yards and 5 TDs on the ground. He also is the first of hopefully many QBs to improve year over year as McGough was probably a tier 3-5 QBs coming into the season and is now the first Quarterback to sign into the NFL as he joined the Green Bay Packers a few days back and may even win the role for backup behind first year starter Jordan Love.

2. Case Cookus, Philadelphia Stars

The Stars season was incredibly disappointing as they were my championship favorite coming into the year but finished 4-6 and missed the playoffs. None of that disappointment was cause of Case Cookus who was widely considered the best QB coming into the season and didn’t disappoint as he ended up being 2nd in passing yards and touchdowns in the league. He reportedly turned down futures’ deal offers to run it back with the Stars and I’d be surprised if he didn’t get some NFL interest this offseason.

3. EJ Perry, Michigan Panthers

The first true hot take of the list as I have a QB that started only 2 games this season as a top 3 QB. How a player finds their way into that is by having 6 quarters of excellent QB play that only Alex McGough was able to top this season. Perry can make all the throws and is extremely mobile on top of that. He destroyed the best defense in the league in a losing effort in the North Division Championship, throwing for 370 yards plus 22 on the ground and 3 total TDs. There’s a legit chance that Perry is my QB1 going into 2024 depending on what happens to the others in this tier.

Tier 2: Solid Starters

The players that fall under this tier don’t have the upside of the tier 1 players, but they are consistent and they will bring a high floor to the position.

4. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, New Orleans Breakers

MBT decided to travel south, coming from the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to the Breakers in 2023. He was by far the oldest QB in the league (34 years old) and he showed that experience and was a stabilizing force for a team in coach and QB transition. That being said, MBT started the year much stronger than he finished it and he currently is a free agent weighing his options between the CFL, USFL, and maybe even the NFL. Where he ends up will probably be the biggest story line of the USFL offseason.

5. J’Mar Smith, Birmingham Stallions

J’Mar Smith’s 2023 season was disappointing as he won the starting position in camp over 2023 MVP Alex McGough but hurt his thumb in week 1 and was shut down for the rest of the season. What he showed in limited time this season and as the end of last season is that Smith is a solid spring league starting QB. We’ll see how he comes off the injury, but I don’t think the Stallions will be stressed with McGough out of the picture and as they to turn to Smith.

Tier 3: Low End Starters with Upside

This tier of players hasn’t shown the consistency to make it into the 2nd tier but has some interesting traits that make it so the teams in question would feel comfortable heading into 2024 with them as a starter.

6. Cole Kelley, Memphis Showboats

Cole Kelley is a fun player. He is a 6’8 monster that is a much better fit as the Big Ben style role in Todd Haley’s offense than Jordan Ta’amu or Brady White were. He has shown a solid command of the offense and has the arm talent that makes fans excited to see what he can develop into. It’ll be interesting to see how much a full offseason could help Kelley develop further.

7. Kenji Bahar, Houston Gamblers

A lot of people felt like Houston Needed to address the signal caller position after Clayton Thorson’s injury, but Houston put their trust into the QB that helped them go 2-1 in their last 3 games. That ended up as mostly a success as Bahar was a stable force once settling down a few games in. Bahar developed a lot from year 1 to 2 and for that I think he should be in the upside tier although he might hit a ceiling soon.

8. Troy Williams, Pittsburgh Maulers

Behind Perry as 3, this might be the 2nd hottest take on this list as there was a lot of talk of how Williams helped get the Maulers to the Championship game. I am not as high on Williams because of how conservative he is with decisions. There is upside to his game as the physical traits are there and he’s shown flashes of high end QB play but we are starting to get into QBs where I could see a true QB competition next year with a new addition, maybe their 1st round pick Lindsey Scott Jr?

Tier 4: Low End Starters Without Upside

These are Low End Starters that don’t have the potential as the tier above but still are ok options as a starter or are high end backups.

9. Deandre Johnson, New Jersey Generals

Through 5 weeks of the 2022 USFL season I would’ve said that Johnson was a tier 1 QB, but then he would hurt his ankle and never truly got back on the horse since. Some of that is a lack of weapons at receiver for the Generals but after New Jersey cycled through QBs last year I think Johnson is at best going to be in a heated camp battle with a new face although if he can get back to 2022 Johnson, he could be a high riser.

Tier 5: Backups With Upside

These QBs aren’t quite starters yet but have some interest traits that could make them higher tier starters if they get the chance and hit on their upside. I Place this tier above the next tier because these are developmental league and so these QBs are higher valve even if their play might be lower right now.

10. Davis Cheek, New Orleans Breakers

This is the highest rated player that hasn’t taken a snap yet. Cheek was a 2022 UDFA out of Elon that was on the Panthers for a cup of coffee then was picked up by the Breakers and was their backup behind MBT all year. Cheek is in line to be the starter in New Orleans with Bethel-Thompson being a free agent and it’ll be interesting to see if he wins that role and performs in 2024.

11. Carson Strong, Michigan Panthers

I wish that I could put Strong in tier 3 but unfortunately the injury history that cut short his time in the NFL might just do the same in the USFL. Strong showed flashes in limited time this season but unless he can prove to stay healthy there is no way he can be ranked higher.

12. Jalen Morton, Birmingham Stallions

Morton has 2 snaps this season and they were perfectly executed hand-offs. His career consists of two short NFL stints with the Packer and Colts and some garbage time with the Ti-Cats in the CFL. Unless disaster strikes, it seems likely for Morton to be the back up again next season this time being behind Smith instead of McGough.

13. Terry Wilson, Houston Gamblers

Terry Wilson is the only quarterback in this tier that has had extended playing time as he was 11 for 17 with 138 yards and a TD on the season but he was demoted from 2nd string to 3rd in favor of Montell Cozart during this season for unknown reasons, but I see a bit more upside in Wilson due to his speed.

14. Aqeel Glass, New Orleans Breakers

Glass is the other 2022 UDFA that signed with the Breakers and didn’t play a snap. Glass wasn’t active for any of the games last year either. That seems to imply that Cheek is the favorite to be the starter next year but it most likely will be a camp battle if MBT is not involved in 2024.

15. Kevin Thomson, Philadelphia Stars

Kevin Thomson was a backup in the CFL for 2 years before coming down to the USFL. The Stars swapped backups every week to presumably give them equal game checks but of the two, Thompson seems like the guys that would probably be the starter if Case Cookus finds NFL success.

Tier 6: Backups without Upside

These are Quarterbacks that I view as quality backup options but don’t have the upside Tier 5 has due to inconsistent play.

16. Josh Love, Michigan Panthers

After a very rocky 2023 with a lot of highs and lows, it seems as though the Panthers have completely gotten off the Josh Love experience and with his contract expiring this year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Love In a new home next year. Whatever team is getting him will get a solid back with high variance, think spring league Ryan Fitzpatrick.

17. Kyle Sloter, Birmingham Stallions

Sloter probably had the biggest fall of any QB ranked in 2023. After his up and down time with the Breakers last year, I would’ve had him as a solid starter, but the cracks were forming. He would then go to the XFL, and his play took a dive, ending with him being cut and finishing 2023 as a third string QB on the Stallions. Recently Sloter was on a podcast where he revealed that he was injured during that stretch so maybe he’s able to work his way out of this tier but he’s going to have to prove it on the field.

18. Montell Cozart, Houston Gamblers

After winning a championship as Birmingham’s 3rd string QB, Montell Cozart was traded to Houston to be a backup and in limited time, didn’t show much. He could absolutely rise up the ranks with more playing time, but I didn’t see anything that impressed me, so he lands here.

19. Brady White, Memphis Showboats

Brady White was billed as the Showboats starter from the second he showed up at the Memphis team announcement press conference. Memphis tried to make Brady White work but he’s a backup tier player. Now that he’s in that role I don’t mind him spot starting here or there but his days of being the guy were short and now they are numbered.

20. Vad Lee, Philadelphia Stars

Lee was a great story last year, coming off the street and 6 days later willing the Maulers to their first win. Unfortunately, the rest of the season wasn’t great, and the Mauler started over at QB leading to Lee being a backup in Philly. He is fine as a high floor, low ceiling backup.

Tier 7: The Rest

21. Connor Sampson, Pittsburgh Maulers

Sampson is another complete unknown but given how bad the Mauler QB play was early on, and the fact that Sampson still didn’t see any playing time holds me back from putting him any higher.

22. Dakota Prukop, New Jersey Generals

Prukop is already out of the USFL and is currently a backup in the CFL for the Blue Bombers and that probably for the best as he didn’t have a great season for the generals and is better off as a goal line QB up north.

23. Eric Barriere, New Jersey Generals

Barriere showed some flashes last year in limited playing time but since he never saw the field and was cut this season tells me he’s probably a QB3 in this league for the moment.

24. Brian Lewerke, Michigan Panthers

I will say it’s interesting that Michigan had him as their backup over Love in the last two games, but he was an early cut from the Sea Dragons in the XFL and he’s just not a very compelling prospect.

25. Ryan Willis, Memphis Showboats

The former TSL MVP hasn’t had a great spring football career since then, with him requesting a release from the Battlehawks and him getting on the field in garbage time and almost instantly getting strip sacked. Could be an interesting prospect if given the opportunity.

26. James Morgan, Pittsburgh Maulers

Morgan was bad this season. Less than 50% completion percentage and 3 INT with no TDs is a rough start line for the former 4th round pick. He seems like a lot of the high draft picks that have flamed out of these leagues joining the likes of Kyle Lauletta and Christian Hackenberg.

Which USFL quarterbacks would be in your top five? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.

  1. Very thought out divisions. Truly love it and clearly you are a fan as well as a writer. I am going to comment on the people I see in the league next year. I don’t see McGough coming back in 2024. MBT and Cookus likely will be signed somewhere and won’t be back, but I hope they are and there is a chance they are. EJ Perry has a chance to go to the NFL, but I feel with his propensity to be risky with the ball, they will have to him in the USFL a bit before they say take him back, so I think he, J’Mar Smith will be back in a good opportunity to run their teams. You nailed the low-end starters with upside and I think they will be back with room to grow, so that is Behar, Kelley and Williams. From what I have seen everyone else could be in the mix somewhere, but it will be a numbers game. Kyle Sloter with the Stallions may be in a place to excel. It will take a true camp under Holtz to see if he can shine. He still will be pitching in the heat in June something he didn’t do that well in 2022, but he throws a very nice ball and if he can be taught when to let it fly, he could be excellent. In Gilligan’s Island in the first year, they called Mary Ann and the Professor as the rest. In your rest my Mary Ann is Dakota Prukop. This guy throws and great ball having touch and the ability to go long. He could get around you or run you over, a true team guy who even blocks for his mates, probably picked up from his part time play in the CFL. I think he was the Generals best option. I even think Riley felt it too by season’s end. I could be wrong. I did not talk to the guy. Look at his college film and tell me this guy can’t do it all. As a matter of fact if there is one person Holtz could sign to be the next McGough it’s him. Smith should get first crack at it, though. Potential new blood outside of the XFL…Jake Luton, as mentioned Maulers draft pick Lindsey Scott Jr, Anthony Gordon, Jacob Eason, Garrett Gilbert, Nolan Henderson, Chase Fourcade, Brandon Peters and Bryce Perkins. The one presence that has millions in the bank that could come here is Carson Wentz. If he realizes he lost his way, he may come here to try to find it. Have you seen him play? He does crazy things out there. Whereas, Josh Rosen seems to be happy with what he has, Wentz has always been a different animal. With cuts coming up, this list could grow. Who knows if a Tommy Devito, Generals pick Adrian Martinez, John Wolford, Logan Woodside or even Jeff Driskel may become available. A lot if these guys may have made enough money and may decide when the run is done, it’s done, but I wonder if playing in a league with good coaches, with a chance to actually play on TV may be an appealing option, especially if we get more teams in their cities. Looking forward to the ride to see if any of this stuff happens.

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