As the Jets head into an offseason where they should be big players in the free agent market and have plenty of draft resources, they still won’t want to neglect any and all opportunities to improve their team.
If they’re truly going to leave no stone unturned, then someone from the organization will need to pay attention to the rebooted USFL, which returns to action in April and could be a source for some talent that could be worth bringing into training camp.
Predictably, the league will be filled with players who either never made it to the NFL or who are trying to get back in, as was the case with the recent AAF and XFL offseason leagues. Quarterback Josh Johnson was one player who raised his stock in the XFL and went on to have some regular season success at the NFL level so it will be interesting to see the cream rise to the top at this level.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the league held its 2022 draft over 35 rounds. They used an interesting format where each round allowed each team to make one pick from a pre-determined position. For example, quarterbacks were selected in round one (and round 12), defensive ends were selected in rounds two through four and offensive tackles started being picked in the fifth round.
Among the players selected were a number of ex-Jets who have been with the team recently, including four who have played for the team in regular season action. Let’s break down who each USFL team ended up with:
Defensive end Aaron Adeoye was the first ex-Jet to be selected, as he went in the second round. However, due to the format of the draft, that doesn’t mean he was one of the top prospects; just that his position group was one of the first to be selected from. He was the third defensive end selected, though.
Also selected: WR Manasseh Bailey.
While it might seem quite humiliating to only get selected in the 34th round of the USFL draft, Tight end Brandon Barnes was actually the only ex-Jet to be the first player selected at his position. The Gamblers also made ex-Jet Isaiah Zuber the second wide receiver to be selected and took former practice squadder Brandon Hitner fifth from the pool of available tackles.
Also selected: OLB Ahmad Gooden, DT Domenique Davis, RB Mark Thompson
The Panthers drafted linebacker Taiwan Jones who played in three games for the Jets back in 2016. They also drafted guard Teton Saltes, a 2021 undrafted free agent who looked like a decent prospect but got injured in camp.
Also selected: WR Quincy Adeboyejo
New Jersey Generals
The local team also selected someone who played in three games for the Jets in 2016; tight end Braedon Bowman. They also took Nick Rose second in the kicker round.
Also selected: DT Destiny Vaeao, CB David Rivers, TE Nick Truesdell
New Orleans Breakers
The Breakers selected the only player in the draft to actually be drafted by the Jets; cornerback Derrick Jones, who played four games for the Jets in 2017 and 2018 having previously been a sixth round pick.
The Stars selected a player who actually saw action with the Jets in 2021; defensive lineman Freedom Akinmoladun, who filled in against the Jaguars when the Jets had several players on the Covid-19 list. He had a couple of run stops in the Jets’ win.
The only ex-Jet to end up on the Maulers’ roster was center Nico Falah, who was the sixth center selected on day two.
Tampa Bay Bandits
Finally, the Bandits landed two more players who only ever played for the Jets in preseason; offensive tackle Corbin Kaufusi and defensive back Anthony Cioffi.
It should be interesting to see if any of these former Jets can get back into the league, but we’ll also be paying attention to see if any intriguing talent emerges. No doubt the Jets will too.