The Memphis Showboats are in the process of building up their squad for their first season but for those of you that are unaware, the coaching staff and roster is fully taken from the now defunct Tampa Bay Bandits.
In their only season, the Bandits mostly disappointed. They missed the playoffs finishing 3rd in the south with a record of 4-6. That team is very different than the currently Boats and it’s not just the name. Memphis lost a league high 29 players this off-season including starting QB Jordan Ta’amu. They will have the 4th overall pick to spent to replace some of their losses they incurred. So, let’s look at how Memphis stands going into the draft.
The Showboats have 57 players currently rostered as of 2/13/23.
Returning: Brady White, Memphis
Additions: Cole Kelley, Southeastern; Ryan Willis, Virginia
Losses: Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss; Guy Myers, Charleston
There is a Jordan Ta’amu sized hole in Memphis’ quarterback room. Ta’amu was the league leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and QB rushing yards and on top of that he was Tampa’s leading rusher and now he’s moved over the DC Defenders of the XFL. That’s a lot of production that they are losing. There are three possible options for the Boats in 2023. The most likely starter is Ryan Willis. Willis was a TSL MVP and competed for the starting role for the St. Louis Battlehawks. He lost that job and decided to jump to the USFL to try for another starting role. Another name in the ring is Cole Kelley who was a hot name in the spring football space as there were some rumors of him joining the XFL but the 2022 UDFA finds himself in Memphis. These two additions also will have some competition from Tampa’s back-up from last year Brady White. White was 7 of 17 for 59 yards and an INT playing mop up duty for the Bandits. He is the hometown kid, so it feels like they are going to give him every opportunity to win the job. I think with the addition of Ryan Willis and Cole Kelley, they have their guys for this season.
WR Rashard Davis, James Madison; Derrick Dillion, LSU; Vinny Papale, Delaware; John Franklin III, FAU
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas; Kerrith Whyte, FAU; Justin Stockton, Texas Tech; David Hamm, McNeese State
WR Ryan McDaniel, NC Central; John Mitchell, FAU; DJ Myers, Midwestern State
TE Daniel Helm, Duke; Darrell Adams Jr., Azusa Pacific; Jay Jay Wilson, Arizona State
RB Juwan Washington, San Diego State; Tra Minter, South Alabama; BJ Emmons, FAU
WR Dee Anderson, Alabama A&M, Hasise Dubois, Virginia; Derrick Willies, Texas Tech; Keith Mumphrey, Michigan State
TE Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas; De’Quan Hampton, USC
It’s been a busy offseason trying to re-tool the weapons for the first season for the Boats. They have gone completely nuclear on the running back and tight end rooms. All the backs last year struggled to find a groove which led to a quarterback leading their rushing attack so it’s not surprising that they want fresh faces. They swung for the fences getting NFL vets Alex Collins and Kerrith Whyte and spring league vet Justin Stockton. The Tight End room wasn’t their decision as all their Tight Ends opted-out of year two including the league leader in receiving yards by a tight end Cheyenne O’Grady. They look to replace his production with another NFL vet Daniel Helm who has spent with the Chargers, 49ers, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Falcons. Luckily, their receiver room is retaining their top receivers in Derrick Dillon, Rashard Davis, Vinny Papale, and John Franklin so unless one of their new additions steps up, it should be business as usual there. Overall, Memphis has already addressed the needs of these rooms well, so I don’t see them spending top capital on it.
T Jarron Jones, Notre Dame; Corbin Kaufusi, BYU
C Matt Burrell Jr., Ohio State
T Syrus Tuitele, Fresno State
G Kwan Stallworth, Valdosta State; Malik Clark, Kansas; Dustin Burns, Northwestern SI
C Brett Heggie, Florida
T Darrin Paulo, Utah; Juwann Bushell-Beaty, Michigan; James Booth, San Diego State
G Dallas Warmack, Oregon; Damien Mama, USC; Fred Lauina, Oregon State
C Bruno Reagan, Vanderbilt
This offseason hasn’t been very kind to the USFL offensive lines. In most cases it was due to the XFL taking every lineman they could get their hands on, and this is no exception as 4 former Bandits signed to XFL rosters. The good news is they were able to retain All-USFL tackle Jarron Jones after he opted out of year two. The Showboats have also made a few moves signing 4 interior OL and trading for former Michigan Panther tackle Syrus Tuitele but a lot more work it left to be on the group. I could see Memphis investing in the Offensive Line in the draft especially at guard or center.
Returning: John Atkins, Georgia; Daylon Mack, Texas A&M; Sulaiman Kamara, Wake Forest
Additions: Jordan Williams, Virginia Tech; Dillon Faamatau, Oklahoma; Viane Moala, Utah
Losses: Zac Dawe, BYU; Austrian Robinson, Ole Miss
One of the bright spots in Tampa Bay’s only season was the Defensive Line. John Atkins and Daylon Mack were incredible space eaters that made running the ball against the Bandits difficult. They lost a lot of their depth from last year but the new Additions more than make up for the losses incurring. Jordan Williams was a draft pick for the DC Defenders but decided to jump to Memphis. Overall, this group shouldn’t need much more, and I don’t see them using capital in this group.
LB Anthony Butler, Liberty; TJ Neal, Wofford
EDGE Greg Reaves, South Florida; Jeff McCulloch, Texas; Jeremiah Valoaga, UNLV
LB Nate Hall, Northwestern; Aaron Hansford; Malik Lawal, Arizona State
EDGE Big Kat Bryant, UCF; Kahzin Daniels, Charleston; L.B. Mack III, Rhode Island; Drew Jordan, Michigan State
LB Emmanuel Beal, Oklahoma
EDGE Travis Feeney, Washington; Michael Scott, Oklahoma State
The XFL took a lot from Memphis’ Linebacker group. Losing both your starting edge rushers and a starting linebacker is rough, but Todd Haley and crew have done a good job re-stocking the cabinet. The Showboats signed EDGE Markaviest “Big Kat” Bryant and that was a big signing. Bryant was a UDFA in 2022 after a long stint in college at Auburn and UCF. He was on the Cowboys and Dolphins for brief stints before finding himself in a real opportunity to be the top Edge rusher for the Memphis Showboats. They also replaced the hole at inside backer with NFL vet Nate Hall who has spent time on over 7 NFL rosters. Although their job isn’t done, Memphis has done a solid job getting pieces in place to improve this Linebacker group.
CB Derick Abrams Jr., Colorado; Jermaine Kelly Jr., San Jose State
S Stephen Griffin, NC State; Antonio Reed, Nebraska
S Lamont Wade, Penn State; Kyree Woods, San Diego State; Lamont McPhatter II, California (PA)
CB Quinton Meeks, Stanford; Christian Campbell, Penn State; Rashard Causey, UCF; Rannell Hall, UCF
S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers; Obi Melifonwu, UConn
There will be a healthy amount of turnover in this secondary. The Boats lost three starters in safety Obi Melifonwu, safety Anthony Coffi, and top cornerback Quinton Meeks. They have mostly added under-the-radar DBs to the secondary as only two have signed an NFL contract before. The most notable addition has been Josh Nurse who won a USFL championship last year with the Stallions before being traded to Memphis this offseason. They also signed cornerback Troy Warner who is the brother of 49ers linebacker Fred Warner. The Showboats probably need to add to this secondary before the season either in the draft or through free agents.
The Showboats needs to make a splash in their first year in Memphis. They can’t be mediocre if they want to find a fanbase. They have made some of the best additions in the USFL this offseason but also lost a lot of their key contributors from 2022. They need to address offensive line, linebacker, and the secondary in the draft if they want to compete in the south.