Analyzing The Top PFF Graded USFL Players In The Championship

Analyzing The Top PFF Graded USFL Players In The Championship

Tomorrow night, the USFL Championship gets underway in Canton. It’s bound to be an entertaining matchup, with primetime talent featured across the board.

Pro Football Focus has officially released their top five players from each team, so let’s take a look at some of the highest graded athletes from both of these organizations.

Birmingham Stallions

Edge Dondrea Tillman | 90.0

Dondrea Tillman has been an integral piece to Birmingham’s defensive line through two seasons. In 2023, he was spectacular, racking up 32 tackles and four sacks. Over his final five games, he amassed over 30 quarterback pressures, which pushed him to the top of the Stallions list.

QB Alex McGough | 87.7

The unofficial MVP of the league was on a tear this season, setting modern USFL records in multiple categories (including scoring 25 touchdowns in just ten games). McGough led the team to an 8-2 record, and was quite efficient along the way (only a 1.6% turnover worthy play rate).

Alex has been playing the best football of his professional career in the USFL, and is primed for success this weekend.

LB Quentin Poling | 87.2

Unfortunately, Poling will not be playing with the Stallions this week. He had to leave the team a couple weeks ago for personal reasons, and is unavailable. That being said, his season was remarkable in the USFL. Poling posted 43 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one interception, while also winning defensive player of the week honors in week seven.

Thankfully, LB Scooby Wright III is back in the lineup, which helps alleviate Poling’s absence. Everyone remembers Wright’s game-sealing pick six just one year ago in the 2022 Championship.

DL Jordan Thompson | 82.7

Birmingham’s defensive line has had an underrated season, with players such as Jordan Thompson providing the team with stout playmaking in the trenches. Thompson has 23 tackles this season, serving as an excellent run-stopper for this unit.

DL Khalil Davis | 77.5

Similar to Thompson, Davis has contributed to plenty of defensive success up front. He’s got 29 tackles and a sack in 2023, proving to be a force on the line. Expect Davis to make an impact in the Championship playing against a Maulers O-Line that has struggled at times.

Pittsburgh Maulers

LB Reuben Foster | 90.5

Despite missing some time this season, Reuben Foster has statistically been one of the top linebackers in the USFL. This is no surprise, given his college and NFL background. Foster has the highest PFF grade on the Pittsburgh Maulers, compiling 53 tackles and an interception along the way.

PFF’s Ben Cooper had this to say about Reuben:

“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.”

Without a doubt, Foster has generated plenty of NFL interest, and has likely earned himself an opportunity once this USFL season is complete.

DL Boogie Roberts | 79.9

The Boogie Monster has been on a tear in the USFL this season, absolutely dominating in the trenches all year long. He’s been on a mission, looking to prove to the nation that he belongs in the NFL. His case is a strong one, as Roberts has provided the team with plenty of stability throughout the year, serving as a leader defensively.

Boogie is tied for third in both run stops (13) and quarterback pressures (23). In addition, he posted 32 tackles, 8 TFL, and three sacks in what was an impressive 2023 campaign.

CB Mark Gilbert | 79.2

“Gilbert Island”, as he’s been dubbed, has been arguably the top cornerback in the USFL. Mark has consistently taken on the toughest assignments for Pittsburgh all year long, and will likely have some more of those on the way facing off against Davion Davis and Deon Cain.

Gilbert leads the USFL with four interceptions, doing a bit of everything for Jarren Horton’s defense. Mark qualified for the All-USFL defensive team this season, and rightfully so. He’s been sensational.

S Eli Walker | 78.8

Eli Walker has been an underrated defender, one who hasn’t received enough recognition for his efforts. His PFF grade of 78.8 has him sitting in the top percentile of safeties in the USFL. Walker has posted 37 tackles, 1 interception and 1 sack on the season.

S Arnold Tarpley III | 77.1

Interestingly enough, the other starting safety is also in the top five for the team. Arnold Tarpley has been a part of multiple spring leagues, playing at a high level in every single one. However, his play in the USFL has been exceptional, making the All-USFL defensive team alongside Gilbert. In 2023 Tarpley snagged three interceptions, while racking up 43 total tackles. He’s been elite at the safety position.

USFL Championship: Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, there are dozens upon dozens of talented athletes who will be featured in the USFL Championship. Obviously, the depth runs deep for both organizations, considering they’ve made it this far. For fans just tuning into the USFL for the first time, they will be in for a treat with the amount of quality football players taking part in the Championship.

The USFL Championship will be played tomorrow night, at 8pm ET on NBC.

What are your thoughts on these PFF grades and rankings? Which USFL players have you enjoyed watching from each respective team this season? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!