The UFL super draft is done, and the Michigan Panthers made several more moves to secure important pieces for the 2024 season.
General Manager Steve Kazor took a different approach to this draft. In the Dispersal Draft back on the 5th, Michigan used all of their picks. Yesterday, the Panthers only grabbed six players, leaving seven openings on the roster ahead of training camp.
For a full recap of Dispersal Draft picks – and protected players – check out our article from last week breaking all of that down.
OT Eric Abojei
The Michigan Panthers retained Eric Abojei, who was signed by the organization late in the 2023 USFL season. He joined the team at the same time that QB E.J. Perry did, and was active for one game.
Abojei had an excellent career at Wyoming, starting in his final 34 games played at the school. With some of the movement on the offensive line throughout this dispersal process, Eric provides depth heading towards the season.
DE Vantrel McMillan
Vantrel McMillan is an underrated retention for the Panthers, having spent the past two seasons with the team. He re-signed during the fall, and now has been brought back (again) for 2024.
McMillan has posted 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks between 2022 and 2023 with Michigan. He started in 2 of 9 games played this year, seeing 203 snaps on the field.
DB Nate Brooks
Michigan has been making some major additions to their secondary. On the 5th, they secured Bryce Torneden, Keith Gipson, Shalom Luani, and others. Now, Nate Brooks joins the fold for the 2024 UFL season.
Free Agent Watch: DB Nate Brooks | @USFLStallions@six1nateyB was a starter for Birmingham in 2023 (43 tackles, 9 PBU's, 2 INT). He had an NFL stint with the 49ers following a #USFL Championship victory.
Brooks was a starter for Birmingham in 2023, ultimately winning the Championship against Pittsburgh. Nate was excellent, finishing with 42 tackles, nine PBU’s, and two interceptions. Brooks had an NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers, and then re-signed to the Stallions back on September 20th.
After going unprotected by Birmingham, surprisingly, Nate finds a new home in Michigan. With Josh Butler signing a futures deal with the Dallas Cowboys, Brooks could prove to be the guy to fill that role.
S Will Adams
Will Adams is an intriguing pickup, bringing depth to the secondary. Adams spent the 2023 XFL season with the Vegas Vipers, playing in five games (totaling five tackles).
Will played his collegiate ball at Virginia State, where he racked up 151 tackles and five interceptions across four seasons played. He also spent some time in the NFL with the Washington Commanders. Adams went unclaimed off of waivers there, and then landed in the XFL. Now, he’ll be suiting up for the Michigan Panthers in 2024.
K Cole Murphy
Everyone can take a breath and relax. Cole Murphy is back. The kicking situation in Michigan has been rather odd as of late. The team abruptly signed kicker Jake Bates – who is a kickoff specialist – late in December. During the first phases of this dispersal process, the Panthers protected Bates, and let Cole Murphy walk into the pool for the super draft.
Thankfully, the Panthers were able to secure Cole during the super draft, bringing back one of the top kickers in the USFL. Murphy joined the Panthers midway through the 2022 season, and has been a consistent force ever since.
One of Murphy’s major highlights in 2023 came during their playoff loss against Pittsburgh. As time expired, Cole knocked through a 47 yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
With Murphy back on the roster, one would expect him to retain his role as the primary field goal kicker. Jake Bates did not kick field goals in college, and Cole has already proven himself at this level. This development will be a story to watch in training camp, though.
P Kyle Kramer
Speaking of special teams drama, the Michigan Panthers decided to bring back Kyle Kramer yesterday. Kramer has been the starting punter for Michigan the past two seasons, but went unprotected during the dispersal draft. On top of that, Steve Kazor picked up Brock Miller from New Jersey.
Now, it looks like Kramer and Miller will have to battle it out in training camp for the position. Something to note is that Michigan had also picked up long snapper Jordan Ober on the 5th, who already has chemistry with Brock Miller from their time together with the Generals. The team opted not to re-sign LS Shane Griffin, who had been with Michigan the past two seasons.
Heading into training camp, that could play a factor in the franchise’s ultimate decision. Regardless, Kramer is a talented punter in his own right, averaging 42.7 YPP in 2023.
Generally speaking, the Michigan Panthers had another successful draft. It’s clear that the team is leaving some room for free agents, who could be signing at any time now with free agency now open.
Some names to watch for returning players would be QB E.J. Perry, and LB Frank Ginda. Neither have signed futures deals with the Jaguars or Falcons yet. It’s also interesting to note that RB Reggie Corbin is still available, but at this point it is clear that Michigan has moved on.
With 68 of 75 spots filled on the roster, the Panthers have until February 14th to get their team ready for training camp, which begins on February 23rd.
What are your thoughts on the Michigan Panthers UFL super draft picks? Which free agents should the team pursue? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!