Memphis Showboats vs. DC Defenders | Week 9 Preview | Daewood Davis

Grading UFL To NFL Player Probability: Memphis Showboats

The Memphis Showboats 2024 campaign couldn’t have gone worse than it did. The new look Boats went into this season with high expectations with the acquisition of multiple notable names from the USFL but that didn’t equal success as the team finished 2-8 with their only 2 wins against the 1-9 Roughnecks. That ended up being a blessing in disguise as they were able to acquire the top pick in the draft by beating those Roughnecks in week 10. But before they can build this team up, we have to see what players they might lose 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: WR Daewood Davis
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: None
Tier 4: QB Case Cookus, RB Titus Swen, WR Jonathan Adams, WR Vinny Papale, TE Sage Surratt, TE Jay Jay Wilson

The breakdown of tiers here tells a story. It was for the most part, the Daewood Davis show in Memphis this year as he was one of the true breakouts from this season leading the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. That combined with being only 25 and right out of the NFL makes him a clear Tier 1. Beyond that, there isn’t a ton to get excited about. The issue with filling your team with spring football veterans is that you can be limited in the amount of NFL prospects. In this case guys like Case Cookus, Jonathan Adams, Vinny Papale, and Sage Surratt are dinged because they are known quantities so it’s hard to feel like 3rd times the charm to get to the league. If there’s one player I could see surprising people, it’s Titus Swen who wasn’t much as a running back but was a nice returner for them this year. The Tier 5 is populated with a lot of notable names that age is killing any chance they had like Troy Williams, Wes Saxton, and former 2022 USFL OPOY Darius Victor.

Offensive Line

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: C Alec Lindstrom
Tier 3: T James Tunstall
Tier 4: G Darrin Paulo, C Jared Thomas

The offensive line for this Memphis Showboats team will not be remembered fondly. Visions of Case Cookus getting killed early in the season is going to dominate the memories of this group but that’s not to say that there aren’t interesting players here. The most interesting player is Alec Lindstrom who was seemingly miscast as a right guard for the majority of the season but when he slid over to his natural position of center, you saw why he was one of the most hyped players coming into the season. Beyond that, James Tunstall was a lineman that was up and down this season but as a young tackle that was on the Dolphins last preseason, he gets a boost. The other 2 players are guys that played the whole season and I can’t fully write off even with some poor grades tied to them. Tier 5 is a laundry list with the most notable player being Jarron Jones who was back to back All-USFL selections but struggled when switching to Right Tackle.

Front Seven

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: EDGE Jordan Ferguson, EDGE Max Roberts
Tier 4: DL Daylon Mack, DL Josiah Bronson, DL PJ Hall, EDGE Greg Reaves

When switching over to the defensive side of the ball, you start to see the reasons why this was the worst defense in the league last year with no Tier 1 or Tier 2 players here or in the secondary. The front 7 has 2 players at edge rusher that had solid years in Jordan Ferguson and Max Roberts which makes them guys to keep an eye on. Beyond that, there was a trio of interior defensive lineman in Tier 4 which had a nice run defender in Daylon Mack, a younger player in Josiah Bronson, and a surprise breakout from former 2nd round pick PJ Hall which got them all on the list. Most notably, I have none of their linebacker core on the list as that group is older and struggled which keeps them from getting a real NFL shot.

Secondary

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: None
Tier 3: SCB Kyree Woods,
Tier 4: CB Delrick Adams Jr, CB Nehemiah Shelton, CB DJ Daniel, S Jarey Elder, CB Quinton Meeks

The story doesn’t get any less depressing when talking about the secondary which has one Tier 3 player in Kyree Woods who was their main slot corner this year and is young enough to keep him there even with a weaker season than his 2023 campaign where he was the highest graded corner in either league. Beyond him, Delrick Adams stays on the list with his great first half of the season, and the rest are there due to age and recent NFL experience or because they played a lot of snaps. The only player worth mentioning in Tier 5 is Lamont McPhatter II who I could see as a potential miss by me but the lack of NFL experience keeps him down.

Specialists

Tier 1: None
Tier 2: K Matt Coghlin
Tier 3: None
Tier 4: LS Turner Bernard

The Memphis Showboats specialists are headlined by Matt Coghlin who I would’ve said was the most likely kicker to go to the NFL after the 2023 season and backed that up with another excellent 2024 season. Beyond that, Turner Bernard is still young with NFL experience so I can’t write him off completely but I will do that with Matt White who is a solid punter but still hasn’t made that NFL opportunity happen yet.

Conclusion

This exercise really hits home the issues that the Memphis Showboats had this season. With a defense that lacked real star power and an offense that only had a few of those (with one playing out of position) there is no surprise that they finished as poorly as they did. You’d hope that they can have a good offseason to not put themselves in this position again in 2025. But for now, the 3 players with the best chance at an NFL opportunity are WR Daewood Davis, C Alec Lindstrom, and K Matt Coghlin.

What are your thoughts on these Memphis Showboats candidates to make it to the NFL? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

Fubo