After loading up during the UFL Dispersal Draft, GM Dennis Polian and Head Coach John DeFilippo decided to use the UFL Super Draft to stuff the roster to the brim and then some, using all 14 rounds of the draft. For the time being, the Memphis Showboats went over the camp limit of 75 players with a total of 77 now on roster as of this writing.
The Showboats used the Super Draft to continue adding familiar faces that Coach DeFilippo worked with on the New Orleans Breakers in 2023, specifically with the the core special teams unit being the highlight. The Showboats also addressed their depth issue at center and added bodies primarily for camp competition.
UFL Super Draft Picks
Round 1: OC Jared Thomas (Seattle Sea Dragons)
Of all the crucial offensive positions that the Showboats were light on going into the Super Draft, the center position only had Jordan McCray on roster. Former Seattle Dragon center Jard Thomas was a necessary choice not only for depth sake, but for legitimate starting contention. Thomas started all 10 games last year for the Sea Dragons anchoring a line that propelled the Seattle offensive attack to top 3 in both passing and rushing. Thomas is the exact kind of player needed to decide who will keep Case Cookus best protected and sack free this season.
Round 2: P Matt White: (New Orleans Breakers)
While adding depth and competition for the upcoming training camps is the point of these dispersal drafts, many were left scratching their heads on Coach DeFilippo’s decision to draft Matthew White in the second round. White was a reliable punter and kickoff specialist for the New Orleans Breakers in 2023, and this appears to be another signing of someone that DeFilippo trusts.
That being said, the choice being so high coupled with the fact that All-USFL punter and kickoff specialist Brandon Wright was already signed back to this roster is a bit puzzling. White has an uphill battle in part due to Wright outperforming him in most statistical punt categories while White was a bit better in the kickoff department. A fascinating pick at this spot in the draft nonetheless.
Round 3: S Christian McFarland (Birmingham Stallions)
Part of a talented Birmingham Stallions secondary the past two USFL season, McFarland saw himself added to the unprotected pool of players following the UFL Dispersal Draft for the USFL Conference. Coach DeFilippo snagged him in the earlier rounds of the draft, and has an excellent safety in his arsenal.
McFarland has been a workhorse in the USFL, and is coming off his best statistical season with 55 combined tackles in his 10 games in action. Competition at the position will be fierce for McFarland, but its hard to not seem him making this roster or another UFL roster at the least in 2024.
Round 4: LB Max Roberts (Las Vegas Vipers)
Roberts was highly regarded by many on social media as one of the top XFL prospects that was left unprotected on the board, and when you look at the tape you can see why. The former Vegas Viper edge rusher started off the 2023 season on fire and by mid-year was in the front-runner category for Defenisve Player of the Year in the league.
In the midst of the rain, wind, and – dead grass – this @XFLVipers defense is playing excellent football.
Max Roberts forces another fumble on Jordan Ta'amu, and Vic Beasley recovers. The Vipers have a defense that is always ready to strike. #XFLpic.twitter.com/TspUrtzT0Q
He would later cool off but still made a massive impact in pressuring opposing quarterbacks ending the season with 4 sacks and 26 combined tackles seeing action in all 10 games. He’ll be added to a very deep edge rush unit in Memphis and will look to make his case to disrupt off the edge for the Showboats in camp.
Round 5: WR Lee Morris (New Orleans Breakers)
Coach John DeFilippo has made it very clear that he wants familiar faces in Memphis to start off training camp and as has been the case throught the entire draft process, he reached back into the Breakers roster in droves. This time he picks up another vital breakers receiving threat from the 2023 USFL season in wide receiver Lee Morris.
Morris consistently fought for targets on an incredibly deep Breakers roste in 2023, but made his impact regardless to the tune of 339 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns with the latter stat being second highest only behind Johnnie Dixon (5 TDs). Morris adds familiarity of DeFilippo’s system to the wide receiver depth heading into camp.
Round 6: OT Salesi Uhatafe (New Orleans Breakers)
The former Utah Ute is no stranger to the spring football scene having been in the AAF, XFL (2020), and last year with Coach DeFilippo on the New Orleans Breakers. Uhatafe saw action in 5 games last season and will be looking to fit in where needed in what should be an extremely competitive roster of linemen.
Round 7: CB Will Likely (XFL Houston Roughnecks)
Another top name that many were surprised to see still on the board come the time of the UFL Super Draft was the former Houston Gambler and XFL Houston Roughneck defensive back Will Likely.
Besides a memorable last name, Likely made his presence known in the USFL in 2022 snagging 4 interceptions along the way to an All-USFL nod in 2022. He would jump at the chance of joining the Roughnecks in the XFL in 2023, and while his stat sheet didn’t light up the charts like the year prior, he still continued to make his presence know last season.
Round 8: WR Damion Willis (Seattle Sea Dragons)
Willis comes in as the second Seattle Sea Dragon picked up by the Showboats in the UFL Super Draft and is coming off a season where he may have been crowded out in the Seattle receiving corps. The crowding won’t be much lighter heading into camp this year for Memphis, but Willis showed flashes of potential when given the chances in 2023.
Round 9: LS Turner Bernard (New Orleans Breakers)
It only makes sense for the Memphis Showboats to keep the continuity of special teams together with Turner Bernard now being their long snapper on roster. Coach DeFilippo has been adamant of keeping the band together, and with the pickups of punter Matthew White and kicker Matthew Coghlin in the Super Draft, this was a no branier and position filler.
Round 10: CB Tye Smith (Orlando Guardians)
The former Orlando Guardians stats do not jump off the page, but his overall performances in game were certainly recognized. He received the third highest PFF ranking overall on the Guardians roster, and by that number he was ranked as their top ranked defensive back in 2023. Smith will look to make his case for a roster spot come February.
Round 11: K Matthew Coghlin (New Orleans Breakers)
As mentioned many times before, Coach John DeFilippo has consistently kept bringing the band back together from his time with the Breakers as the Showboats finalized adding all the core starters from the Breakes 2023 special teams unit with highly talented kicker Matthew Coghlin.
Coghlin was the USFL’s most accurate kicker (minimum 3 kicks) and second overall in points in the USFL, and coming into 2024 he looks to be the front-runner for the starting spot at the position. That being said, the competition will be Alex Kessman who had an impressive 2023 campaign in his own right and will most likely be fighting for the spot until final cuts.
Round 12: Antoine Brooks (Seattle Sea Dragons)
The former Maryland Terp was a lunch pale type of defensive back for the Seattle Sea Dragons in 2023 finishing third on the team in tackles (44) and adding 1.5 sacks in the span of 10 starts. He sees a potential uphill battle in camp with a crowded room of talented defensive backs.
Round 13: Michael Stevens (New Orleans Breakers)
The final former Breakers added by Coach John DeFilippo has been putting in workman’s efforts at the defensive back position in spring ball for a few season now with a consistent 2023 season that saw 27 combined tackles, a forced fumble, and 4 pass breakups in 10 games of actions. Stevens does have familiarity in his corner, but will see a tough task of landing a roster sport in a crowded group of defensive backs.
Round 14: Willie Henry (Birmingham Stallions)
Defensive tackle Willie Henry is called up as the last pick of the UFL Super Draft, and the value is massive for this point in the draft. The former Birmingham Stallion stepped it up last year delivering 4 sacks and 21 combined tackles in a stout defensive front four.
The Memphis Showboats are deeper at this position, but given Henry’s increases production and improvement year over year there is a good chance he makes it on this roster at the very least as an excellent rotational option.
For a full breakdown of the Memphis Showboats original protected players and USFL Dispersal Draft picks, check out our article from last week.
What are your thoughts on the Memphis Showboats UFL Super Draft picks? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!