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Pre-Draft Roster Preview: New Orleans Breakers

The New Orleans Breakers had a solid but ultimately disappointing 2022 season. Finishing 6-4 and getting bounced in the first round after losing to the Stallions for the third time that season.

Unfortunately, this offseason hasn’t been much kinder to the Breakers as they lost their Head Coach, General Manager, and 17 players including starting Quarterback Kyle Sloter. The Breakers will hope to offset some of those losses with the 5th pick in the upcoming draft. So far, the Breakers with have 22 additions, leaving the team with a league low 52 players currently rostered. But where new Head Coach John DeFilippo and General Manager Ryan Jones lack in quantity they make up for in quality so let’s look at the position battle as they stand going into the 2023 rookie draft.

The Breakers have 52 players rostered as of 2/12/23.

Quarterback

Returning: Zach Smith, Tulsa

Additions: Aqeel Glass, Alabama A&M; Davis Cheek, Elon

Losses: Kyle Sloter, Northern Colorado; Shea Patterson, Michigan

The Breakers lived and died by the arm of Kyle Sloter in 2022. His highs were high, and his lows were low. But none of that matters now as he has taken the presumptive starting job for the Arlington Renegades in 2023.

The Breakers are seemingly leaving the job to the three currently rostered quarterbacks. The one that would seem to have the best shot would be returning QB Zach Smith. Smith threw for 123 yards going 15/24 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs for the Breakers in 2022. Smith had a few moments where he flashed potential but with a new coaching staff coming in, it would be a stretch to call him the favorite. For me, the two QBs to watch are the new ones in Aqeel Glass and Davis Cheek. Both of these strong arm QBs flirted with joining the XFL but both probably sensed an easier path to playing time with the Breakers.

The two FCS products were rookies in 2022 but neither would here their name called on draft day. The 6-5 233-pound Glass would get a chance with the Buccaneers in rookie camp but didn’t stick and the 6-3 217-pound Cheek would be off and on the Panthers roster through the year and ended the season on their practice squad where he either gave up or wasn’t offered a future’s deal. This room is very solid, and I don’t see New Orleans adding a high pick to this room. It’s a toss up to who will win the competition but if you twisted my arm, I’d say Aqeel Glass is the week one starter.

Skill Positions

Returning:

RB Anthony Jones, FIU; Ezra Gray, Alabama State

WR Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State; Johnnie Dixon, Ohio State; Lee Morris, Oklahoma; Marquis McClain, Southern

TE EJ Bibbs, Iowa State; Justin Alexander-Johnson, Mississippi State

Additions:

RB Peter Guerriero, Monmouth

WR Eli Stove, Auburn; Reggie Davis, Georgia

Losses:

RB Jordan Ellis, Virginia; Larry Rose III, New Mexico State

WRs Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky; Shawn Poindexter, Arizona

The Breakers had one of the more stacked skill position groups in 2022. They had the league leader in rushing yards in Jordan Ellis, a wide receiver with top 5 receiving yards in the league with Jonathan Adams, and a tight end on the All-USFL team in Sal Cannella. On top of those top performers, they had depth galore with key contributors in Johnnie Dixon, Taywan Taylor, and Anthony Jones.

Unfortunately, they lost Sal Cannella who is re-joining quarterback Kyle Sloter in Arlington, Taywan Taylor who opted out of year two, and Jordan Ellis who was recently released.

The good news is the rest of those players are coming back. Whoever is QB next year will have a solid run game and a few great receivers to throw to. They even added 2 receivers in Eli Stove and Reggie Davis. Davis may become a key player filling into the open roles as he has been a journeyman receiver in the NFL for the better part of 6 years now with 7 stints on 5 different teams. The most glaring need in their skill positions is tight End. It’s hard to find quality TEs at this level of play so I’d imagine the Breakers using a high pick on one in the draft. They could also use another running back.

Offensive Line

Returning:

T Paul Adams, Missouri; Tim Coleman, Richmond

G Marquis Lucas, West Virginia; Steven Rowzee, Troy; Jack Kramer, Bowling Green;

Additions:

T Donnell Greene, Minnesota; Salesi Uhatafe, Utah; Kirk Kelley, Troy

G Clay LeGault, Merrimack

C Lo Falemaka, Utah

Losses: T Kai Absheer, FIU; G Toree Boyd, Howard; C Jared Thomas, Northwestern

This offensive line had a great 2022 averaging 115 rushing yards per game and allowing the least number of sacks in the USFL. However, this line will look very different as they are losing All USFL team center Jared Thomas. The good news is that 3 starters are back in Paul Adams, Marquis Lucas, and Steven Rowzee. They also added 5 offensive linemen in free agency to sure of the position including former Philadelphia Star Clay LeGault. Even with 10 linemen rostered they could still look at this position in the draft.

Defensive Line

Returning:

DL Reggie Howard Jr., Toledo; Connor Christian, Jacksonville State; Djimon Brooks, Georgia Tech

EDGE Anree Saint-Armour, Georgia Tech; Nigel Chavis, Norfolk State;

Additions:

DL: Chris Richardson, UTEP

EDGE Ahmad Gooden, Samford; Samuel Wright II, Princeton; Justus Reed, Virginia Tech; Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State

Losses:

DL Shakir Soto, Pitt; Kamilo Tongamoa, Iowa State

EDGE: Davin Bellamy, Georgia; Shareef Miller, Penn State; TJ Johnson, Marshall

The front 4 for New Orleans was able to get after opposing Quarterbacks, mostly thanks to All-USFL Team edge rusher Davin Bellamy. This group will need guys to step up, however. The Breakers lost 4 defensive linemen to the XFL including Bellamy who is now a DC Defender. The cupboard isn’t completely bare though. They still have defensive tackle Reggie Howard who was a great mid-season addition from the Bandits and ended up on the All-USFL team. The Breakers have started to replace what they have with signing former 7th round pick edge rusher Jordan Brailford and former Houston Gambler Ahmad Gooden. They also have signed two edge rushers in Justus Reed and Samuel Wright II who both have spent time up north in the CFL recently. Overall, There I’m not panicking over these rooms, but the Breakers would be smart to add some depth that could make a real difference in the draft.

Linebackers

Returning: Jerod Fernandez, NC State; Vontae Diggs, UConn

Additions: Zakoby McClain, Auburn; Shaheed Salmon, Samford

Losses: Christian Sam, Arizona State

The Linebacker room was one of the biggest strengths of this team in 2022 headed by All-USFL LB Jerod Fernandez. They seem to be picking up where they left off as both starters are back, and the one loss was Christian Sam who was a back-up for half of the season. Sam’s replacement is already in the building as they had one of the more interesting signing this offseason in Zakoby McClain. McClain was a potential day 3 draft pick in last year’s draft but went undrafted and signed to the Baltimore Ravens where he would lose a camp competition to former Michigan Linebacker Josh Ross. Him plus the 2 returning backers make for a clear strength on the defensive side of the ball and I think the only additions they could use is a bit more depth.

Secondary

Returning:

CB Manny Patterson, Maine; Derrick Jones, Ole Miss; Nevelle Clarke, UCF; Mike Stevens, NC State

S Adonis Alexander, Virginia Tech; Jarey Elder, West Chester; Greg Eisworth II, Iowa State

Additions:

CB Josh Valentine-Turner, FIU

S Saquan Hampton, Rutgers; Darion Slade, Campbell; Derrion Rakestraw, Colorado

Losses:

CB Ike Brown, FIU; Keith Washington, West Virginia

S Aashari Crosswell, Arizona State; Dartez Jacobs, Georgia State

This secondary was one of the best in year one. They gave up a league low of 163.6 passing yards allowed per game. It seems like it will be business as usual going into year 2. The big loss is cornerback Ike Brown who signed a future’s deal with the Raiders after their season was over but there’s a lot of time to find a good replacement and everyone else is back. I wouldn’t mind getting a little more depth, but I don’t think they will be spending high capital on secondary unless the right player falls to them.

Final Thoughts

The Breakers are going to look very different in 2023. With a new young head coach to pair with a new quarterback whether it’s Glass or Cheek starting there is a lot of unknowns with this team. They will look to upgrade at tight end, offensive line, and defensive line to give the new look Breakers the best chance possible to finish the job and get the Birmingham Stallion monkey off their back.

Which players would you like to see the New Orleans Breakers pickup in the 2023 USFL Draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.

Fubo