Grading UFL To NFL Player Probability: Houston Roughnecks | Justin Hall

Grading UFL To NFL Player Probability: Houston Roughnecks

The Houston Roughnecks were seen as the worst team on paper coming into the 2024 UFL season, and that basically came true as the team was a basement dweller that was a far cry from the Wade Phillips or June Jones Roughneck teams.

This makes this offseason very important for Houston as they have to build a better roster for 2025 but before they can do that, they have to see who on this team is moving up to the NFL. In this article I will grade every player on their chance of getting to the NFL this offseason and try to create a system and expectations for players that they can exceed or underperform. Let’s get right into it.

Methodology

For the record, this section is the same for every article so feel free to skip it if you have already seen it. The first piece to explain is the tier system. There are 5 tiers a player could land in, tiers 1-5. Tier 1 is NFL bound, basically I’m almost 100% sure that this player will go to the NFL (by signing an NFL contract at some point in the 2024 NFL season), Tier 2 is decent chance, I’m more sure than not that this player will go to the NFL which is about 75% chance, Tier 3 is maybe, flip a coin 50% chance, Tier 4 is outside possibility, which is about 25% chance, and Tier 5 is all the players that have flaws that make me think there isn’t a chance they make it to the NFL. I haven’t included the Tier 5 players but any player not listed is in that tier.

This is also only counting players that ended the season rostered by a UFL team. For example, the Browns signed Matt Landers who was on the Brahmas before being cut midseason, he doesn’t count and won’t be listed. This is also a good time to also mention that any reported workouts that might be released before this publishes won’t affect the grades.

The reasons that players end up in a given tier is an unscientific combination of 3 factors: quality of play in the UFL, recency of NFL experience, and age. If you check off all three of these boxes you are going to rate highly but you don’t need all three if you are playing out of this world or aren’t playing well but are young with NFL experience. I’m relying heavily on PFF grades to get an opinion on every player but I have watched every game and my personal opinion can influence that too. Lastly, age is a factor that is going to hurt a lot of good players in the UFL and keep players that if they were younger would have been Tier 1s and Tier 2s but there is a sharp fall off when a player reaches 28 that will affect how players are graded. If you have any other questions about how I came to specific grades or put the whole thing together, you can reach out to me at ThornPFN on twitter or in the PFN discord to ask me whatever I missed here.

QB and Weapons

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: WR Justin Hall
Tier 3: RB Kirk Merritt, WR Keke Chism
Tier 4: QB Nolan Henderson, QB Reid Sinnett, QB Jarrett Guarantano, RB TJ Pledger, WR Emmaunel Butler, WR Reggie Roberson Jr

The Roughnecks could never find a consistent passing or rushing attack in 2024. The one consistent piece for them was Justin Hall who should’ve gotten an NFL look last year but this season comes in as Houston’s highest graded weapon as a Tier 2 player. In Tier 3 we have 2 pieces that were key to the little success Houston had in the early parts of the year in Kirk Merritt who would’ve been rated higher if he was healthy or younger but is an interesting option as a player who is changing positions from receiver to running back and Keke Chism who slowed down in the 2nd half of the season which made him drop. The Tier 4s include their entire quarterback room which never found their guys but all are young enough to get a look and some younger pieces that never broke out like TJ Pledger, Emmanuel Butler, and Reggie Roberson Jr. There are a lot of players missing from this list as the entire tight end room came in as a Tier 5 and former USFL offensive player of the year, Mark Thompson also seems to have his NFL days behind him.

Offensive Line

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: None
Tier 4: T Cam Carter, G Braylon Jones, G Justin Redd, C Jack Kramer

No holds barred, this Roughneck offensive line is one of the weakest groups as far as NFL prospects go, in the entire UFL. Missing any players in the top 3 tiers is rough but when there is a line built out of spring football veterans, this is what you end up with. In Tier 4, Cam Carter and Jack Kramer had ok seasons but age and lack of recent NFL experience hurt them, they are still quality pieces for the 2025 Roughneck team. The other 2 are Braylon Jones and Justin Redd who only made it because of their youth and recent NFL experience even if their play was shaky. This sort of thing is bound to happen when 2 of your 5 starters are over the age of 30 in Avery Gennesy and Isaiah Battle which makes them pretty much automatically Tier 5s. It’s a rough group but hopeful not having to replace anyone could be a way to get ahead in 2025.

Front Seven

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: DL Keonte Schad, EDGE Chris Odom, EDGE Christopher Allen
Tier 4: DL Glen Logan, DL Jeffrey Johnson, EDGE Adam Rodriguez, EDGE Ronheem Bingham, LB Marvin Moody

The Roughnecks invested heavily into their front seven this offseason but most of those pieces were veterans that don’t necessarily boost the group in this context. The list starts in tier 3 which has a mix different archetypes like the veteran who’s play might get him one more shot in Chris Odom, a young up and comer that graded out well but isn’t known to the spring football world in Christopher Allen and a lineman that had a solid season that’s still young in Keonte Schad. None of those guys blow you away, but I would be surprised if one of the three didn’t get signed this offseason.

In Tier 4 there are a bunch of names that are for the most part spring football vets that played enough to be mentioned but have never gotten a real NFL opportunity for whatever reason. The Tier 5 has many notable names like Rueben Foster, Gabriel Sewell, Olive Sagapolu, and Toby Johnson that fans might recognize but didn’t have the seasons needed to put them back on the NFL radar.

Secondary

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: S Markel Roby
Tier 3: CB Kiondre Thomas, S Donald Rutledge
Tier 4: CB Colby Richardson, SCB Corn Elder, CB Jimmy Moreland, S Rashard Torrance, S Jamari Brown

This Houston Secondary had one player stand out over anyone else in Markel Roby. Roby finished the season strong and being only 24 years old, he’s set up well for a potential NFL opportunity. Kiondre Thomas and Donald Rutledge are 2 other players that played well in the secondary which let’s them land in Tier 3. Then in Tier 4, Colby Richardson, Rashard Torrance, and Jamari Brown made the list because of their age and Corn Elder and Jimmy Moreland got pulled down by their age. This group didn’t have anyone notable in Tier 5 which is a rarity on this older Houston squad.

Specialists

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: K JJ Molson
Tier 4: LS Logan Klusman

The top player worth considering for NFL opportunities was JJ Molson who had a solid season but nothing good enough to put him in the top tier kickers in the UFL this season. The interesting piece is Logan Klusman that had a solid season, which puts him in tier 4.

Conclusion

This does a great job at showing how this team struggled this season. This is the weakest team we will see during these articles and talent was a major reason for their failings this season. The bright side of that is they won’t be getting picked apart like some other teams will be but hopefully they see that this roster still needs a serious overhaul. With that said, there are still a few diamonds in the rough for this team with players like wide receiver Justin Hall, edge rusher Christopher Allen, and cornerback Kiondre Thomas being the 3 players I think are most likely to make it to the NFL.

What are your thoughts on which Houston Roughnecks players will make their way to the NFL? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

Fubo