The USFL kickoff is a week away and teams across the league are trimming their rosters down to 50 players. At the time of publication, the New Jersey Generals have 55 players on their roster, 54 active players and 1 inactive. Final roster cuts will be made the week before their opening game. Now is the time to breakdown the roster by position to see who will be big-time contributors, as well as those who will be in a reserve role.
De’Andre Johnson (QB)
Kyle Lauletta (QB)
Dakota Prukop (QB)
Both De’Andre Johnson and Kyle Lauletta are returning for season two with newcomer Dakota Prukop joining the room. The USFL will have every team carry three quarterbacks, with two active and one inactive, but dressed. This is a move to avoid a similar fate to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship this past January. De’Andre Johnson is the clear front-runner to start but we haven’t gotten any word on who the day one starter will be, or if we will see a two-quarterback system from Head Coach Mike Riley again. I think the Generals offense will see its maximum potential if Johnson is the full-time starter this season and stays healthy, unlike last year. Lauletta has looked good in camp by all accounts and former CFL QB Prukop is an intriguing option as well. New Jersey’s QB room is a strong one that can help lead them to another dominant season if they can avoid the injury bug. If all goes according to plan, DJ has MVP potential for this squad.
The run game propelled the Generals to a league-leading 160.6 YPG on the ground spearheaded by the one-two punch of Darius Victor and Trey Williams. Williams was second in the league in rushing while his companion Victor was right behind him in third. Darius Victor also led the league in rushing touchdowns and earned himself Offensive Player of the Year honors. Kingston Davis will be the clear third back, but he should have a role this season. General Manager Billy Devaney mentioned him by name when discussing a player to watch going into season two. The Generals offense will go as the run game goes and as a whole, it may be the strongest in the USFL.
Reigning @USFL Offensive Player of the Year, @yungvitov was obsessed with the end zone last year. He’s due for another huge season in year two with the @USFLGenerals. He ran for 577 yards (4.5 YPC) and a league-leading 10 total touchdowns in year one. Here’s every touchdown: pic.twitter.com/GQrUzbCPOl
The Generals will certainly feel the loss of KaVontae Turpin and Darrius Shepherd, especially early in the season. That’s a large chunk of their receiving yardage not returning so I expect them to lean on the run game again this year. The top end of the receiver room may not be as strong, but this feels like a more complete group. I don’t know for sure if they will carry seven wide outs on a 50-man roster, so we may see some slight change at the bottom.
Alonzo Moore has the chance to take over as the number one option and I have said all offseason that I expect a big jump from Randy Satterfield with increased snaps. With a team full of smaller slot-type receivers, Satterfield can be a true X-Receiver which the Generals lack. Cam Echols-Luper is a solid receiver that factors huge in the return game. He constantly gave New Jersey great field position last year and could see more time on offense. Both Warren Newman from Jackson State and De’Morney Pierson-El from Nebraska intrigue me a lot, looking to fill that explosive hole left by Turpin. I fully believe we see a breakout year from Newman this season.
The @USFLGenerals may have lost their MVP to the NFL, but this years receiver room looks like a more complete unit, top to bottom, than the one we saw last season. #USFL (via @ USFLGenerals/IG) pic.twitter.com/9KeDn9AXRO
The Generals used a lot of two tight end sets last season which makes sense, seeing as they ran the ball so well. Both Brandom and Bowman are excellent blocking tight ends and made plays when needed, mainly in the flats. We have seen more vertical concepts in training camp using their tight ends so that might change. But this is a room that only totaled 261 receiving yards on 25 receptions last season. Wes Saxton Jr. only caught two passes on three targets in very limited action and I’m not sure much changes with two entrenched contributors ahead of him on the depth chart. Charles Jones is currently on Injured Reserve, so a lot is up in the air in terms of his status, but he did have several practice squad stints in the NFL.
The Generals were first in rushing yards and second in passing yards last year, and none of that would’ve been possible without stellar offensive line play. They were the best team in the USFL in third down percentage which tells you they got into manageable third downs and converted. When you run the ball well on early downs and don’t allow sacks, that’s what happens. Full credit goes to the O-Line. The loss of All-USFL Guard Garrett McGhin hurts, but they do get back All-USFL Tackle Terry Poole. Their line is mostly intact so we should fully expect them to be dominant again this year and be one of, if not the best, in the USFL. Nine linemen might be a number too high to carry, taking up nearly a fifth of their roster spots, so the competition is certainly in full swing.
Toby Johnson (DL)
Hercules Mata’afa (DE)
Tyshun Render (DE)
Deyon Sizer (DL)
Kenneth Randall (DT)
Kevin Thurmon Jr. (DT)
Tyrone Truesdell (DT)
Arguably the biggest weakness of this Generals team last year was their pass rush. They were last in the USFL with 10 sacks in as many games. They were extremely stout against the run but outside of All-USFL Defensive Tackle Toby Johnson, they did not create interior pressure often. They’ve added to the D-Line room this offseason with free agent signings Kenneth Randall, Kevin Thurmon Jr., and Tyrone Truesdell but it is a numbers game and seven seems like a large number of interior defensive linemen for this roster. I do believe we see an increase in production from the group this year lead by Toby Johnson, who is sure to impress again.
I’m combining the off-ball linebackers and edge players for the Generals, who all played well last year. They’ll be just as strong this coming year bringing back all of their starters. Chris Orr and D’Juan Hines were excellent in the middle of their defense last year and they’ve added Jalen Choice and Willie Eubanks III. Kolin Hill and Bryson Young played more on the edge, and they did provide some decent pressure combining for 2.5 sacks, but their true value was setting the edge in the run game. If the Generals want to get to the quarterback more and create more takeaways, they need Hill and Young to step their game up to another level. But this is a position group that will always be in the right spot at the right time and read their keys. Dependability and consistency are exactly what I expect in season two.
The Generals lost their two starting cornerbacks, De’Vante Bausby and DeJuan Neal this offseason. New Jersey struggled at times last year to stop the pass and losing them certainly won’t help. They are bringing back Trae Elston, Christian Tutt, DJ Daniel, and they have Marcus Lewis coming over from the Philadelphia Stars to help bolster their room. Outside of them, it’s a lot of new faces at corner. A name that is very intriguing is Anthony Blue out of Newberry College. He was one of the highest rated D2 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft and was an AP All-American in college. Meiko Dotson is another free agent signing that could be big. In 2019 at Florida Atlantic, he led the nation with nine interceptions. I do expect a few of the offseason signing to play valuable snaps and potentially start this year. But I see Elston taking a big leap after showing flashes in ‘22.
The New Jersey Generals safety room might be the best in the league and is one of their strongest on the entire roster. This unit can cover in man, plays great in zone, and is terrific against the run. All four safeties play significant snaps, and they have the ability to play nickelback or in the box. Shalom Luani, who plays mostly deep, was All-USFL last season and was their leader in interceptions with five. Out of their 12 interceptions, 8 came from the safety position. Their strong play will help the young cornerbacks out a ton and should solidify the secondary as a whole. This is a position group that no one backing the Generals should worry about.
Brock Miller was fantastic last year, but the Generals kickers were not. Nick Sciba, an extremely accurate kicker, should sure up placekicking duties for New Jersey. At Wake Forest he was 80 for 89 (89.9%) while making every PAT and is the school’s all-time leader in scoring. Jordan Ober replaces Scott Flanick at long snapper which is tough for any Generals fan. But special teams should be vastly improved this season.