Preseason week two is already in the books, and as the Ravens preseason win streak comes to a close vs. the Commanders after a game winning field goal, I get to continue chronicling the highs and lows of how USFL players did in the preseason.
As of the time of writing this article, there are 33 2023 USFL players playing on NFL team with another 14 from 2022. We had nine signings this week with RB Aaron Shampklin, CB Matt Hankins, WR Isaiah Zuber, CB Nehmiah Shelton, G Braylon Jones, WR DJ Montgomery, LS Tucker Addington, RB Stevie Scott and LB Dashaun White all getting NFL contracts.
There were also 3 players who were cut this week with P Colby Wadman, Edge Jordan Ferguson, and CB Tino Ellis (Wavied/Injured). Be sure to check out last week’s article on preseason week one, or my XFL version of these articles on XFL Newsroom. Let’s get into it.
DL Levi Bell, Seattle Seahawks
Levi Bell is one of the most impressive players this preseason as a whole which makes him an easy repeat candidate on my stock up lists. Last week I talked glowingly about his performance against the Vikings, and he followed it up with another solid performance against Dallas. This week he not only graded out as the best defender on the Seahawks defense, but he also got a snap at fullback on offense which he played in college at Texas State. If Bell is going to sneak onto the 53-man roster in Seattle, showing how versatile he is will certainly go a long way. One more solid outing could cause Bell to be on someone’s week one roster, even if it’s not Seattle.
Levi Bell turns in the top grade for a Seahawks defender:
89.5 overall 86.2 pass rush
I am not sure of the Seahawks will be able to get him to the practice squad.
I would’ve loved to get some new names in the stock up list but unfortunately, Bell wasn’t the only one that decided to have great back-to-back games. Austin Watkins has basically guaranteed that he’s making a roster somewhere. He followed up two great performances in the hall of fame game and in week one with another that tops the rest. He had 7 catches for 139 yards and a TD on a whopping 14 targets. His play time has gone up and he’s risen to meet the occasion. I’d call him a lock if he did more on special teams but at this point I think the Browns will have a hard time getting him on the practice squad.
Tae Hayes was having a good preseason in week one with a 80.3 defense grade on 20 snaps for the Lions but that didn’t stop the Lions from cutting him shortly after the game. Hayes wouldn’t wait long for his next opportunity as the Ravens would claim him off waviers after dealing with some injuries at corner. Hayes played a whopping 41 snaps and made one of the top plays from former USFL players this week with an interception off of Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the 4th quarter. He still has a long way to go to make the roster, but a good 3rd preseason game could get him a chance to be on the practice squad to start out.
WATCH: CB Tae Hayes with an interception for the Baltimore Ravens. He's had an excellent night tonight despite just recently joining the team.
HM: TE Jace Sternberger BUF, DL Jeremiah Pharms NE, CB Ike Brown LV
WATCH: Earlier today, former @USFLStallions TE Jace Sternberger caught a screen pass and rumbled for 27 yards for the Bills.@_Jstern was phenomenal in the #USFL this past season, posting 517 receiving yards and seven touchdowns en route to a Championship run. pic.twitter.com/as9kqCpdF2
Deon Cain is the only repeat stock down list member in either league this week and for good reason. Cain was an honorable mention last week for being unable to play in the first preseason game due to injury. After being behind the 8-ball, Cain dropped one of the biggest dud performances of the weekend. Dropped is the correct term as he didn’t complete any of his 3 targets and dropped a touchdown pass on 4th and goal. Cain thankfully didn’t get cut after the game like a few other Eagles did but he needs the game of his life next week to even sniff the practice squad.
Sagapolu signed to the Eagles only days before playing last Thursday and his grades showed that lack of prep time. On his 43 snaps, Sagapolu scored well below average in run defense and pass rush which left him with a 27.7 PFF grade, good for 2nd worst on the Eagles’ defense. The only time Sagapolu was mentioned on the broadcast is when he lined up incorrectly on a field goal and gave Cade York another opportunity to win the game (He missed again). Hopefully some extra time in the building can make Sagapolu comfortable and he can finish strong this weekend.
Breeland Speaks was, by a large margin, the best edge rusher in the USFL last year with a league leading 9 sacks in 10 games last season. This positive momentum hasn’t carried over for the former 2019 2nd round pick. Speaks is another player that graded out horrendously this week and unlike Sagapolu there are less excuses. Speaks only played 12 snaps and graded out with a 29.2 PFF defense grade. He’ll certainly get more playing time in the final preseason game, but it might be too little, too late for the All-USFL defensive end.
I think it's going to very tough for these players to make the active 53 this season. Anthony Averett AJ Parker Nate Brooks Tay Martin Isaiah Winstead Dazz Newsome Kyahva Tezino Breeland Speaks Jack Colletto Jeremy Nichols Jason Poe Joey Fisher Corey Luciano Keith Ismael…