The developmental USFL took some of the best NFL hopefuls from professional leagues across the continent and pitted them against each other on live television. It’s a great way to put an unknown player on the map and give them a medium to make the league.
Luckily, the league succeeded at its job. It brought many players into the limelight, and multiple players signed to NFL rosters this summer. That’s why today I’m listing off my top 3 former USFL players that will make an impact in the NFL and may have a bright future in the league.
Chris Odom, DE, Cleveland Browns
The USFL Defensive Player of the Year was an absolute force for the Houston Gamblers. He racked up his best stat totals at the pro level, even after bouncing around NFL teams and the AAF.
The freak defensive end does have playing experience in the big leagues, and his numbers in the USFL were great. He landed 12 sacks with 41 tackles, finding his way to Cleveland for another NFL shot.
Although playing behind Jadeveon Clowney and maybe Alex Wright, but if he plays his cards right he may be able to take over Isaac Rochell for the 3rd string. He may find himself some decent minutes and make his way back to the NFL for good.
Bailey Gaither, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Although Victor Bolden Jr. was also in the conversation, I had to pick Gaither for this. Bolden may have had more receiving yards, but he only had 90 yards more than Gaither. Not only this, but Gaither played two fewer games than Bolden, and would easily have made up the difference over those games.
Gaither is a jump ball machine. He was the human highlight reel of the Maulers, with double-teams having no effect. In the 7 games he played, he managed 328 yards putting him in the top 20, and 4 touchdowns. The 4 touchdowns managed to tie him at second in the league, and everyone in the top 20 for receiving yards and touchdowns played 8 games or more.
In his allotted playing time, he made the absolute most of it. On a Ravens team that needs receiving weapons after the departure of Marquis Brown, he may find some plays on offense and special teams. Even at his smaller stature, he should make a major impact on Baltimore’s roster.
Channing Stribling, CB, Washington Commanders
This player has one of the greatest jersey collections in sports history. He has played for 4 NFL teams, and went on to play for the AAF, XFL, CFL, USFL, and was drafted into the Spring League before signing with Washington.
The 27-year-old played for one of the best college football pass defenses in the FBS at Michigan in 2016 and led the USFL with 7 interceptions this year. Coming back to form, he may have a good role in the defense and special teams.
He ran a 4.6 40-yard dash and has clear closeout speed, which may be helpfu for a lackluster Commanders’ secondary. If his age catches up and they need to move him to safety or nickel, his tracking ability and toughness will put him in a position to stay in the NFL.