Los Angeles Rams: 10 USFL Players Who Make Sense To Sign

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The USFL is set to wrap up their inaugural return season. We’ve seen plenty of talent throughout the league during this season and as seen before, it’s not out of the ordinary for the Los Angeles Rams to go after a player from a spring league. During the first year of the AAF, John Wolford led the Arizona Hotshots, who now backs up Matthew Stafford. With that said, here are 10 players the Rams could look to add to their roster this time around.

CB Channing Stribling, Philadelphia Stars

The 27-year-old former Michigan Wolverine has bounced around all over the place since finishing his collegiate career. He was a surprise undrafted free agent back in 2017 and signed onto the Browns roster only to then be cut. He then bounced around from the Colts, 49ers, Colts again, Chargers, the AAF’s Memphis Express, the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the XFL’s Seattle Dragons until he finally ended up in the USFL with the Philadelphia Stars.

Stribling has flashed some serious talent this year. It was as if his game just came together. The former Wolverine brought in seven interceptions in seven stars this year before hitting the inactive list due to injury. He has since been activated and will play in the USFL Championship game this weekend.

Why he makes sense for the Los Angeles Rams

It’s no secret the Los Angeles Rams have plenty of cornerback talent on the roster. However, it’s worth adding the competition. Stribling is one of those players that has shown enough in this league to be coveted by all 32 teams in the NFL. He can add some competition and push your depth chart to make the team. Additionally, the Rams have added a Michigan corner before as they drafted David Long in the 2019 third round.

ILB Donald Payne, Houston Gamblers

The former 27-year-old Stetson standout is third all-time in Division 1 history when it comes to tackles with 538. He went undrafted in 2017 and bounced around the Ravens, Jaguars twice, Washington Football Team, Dolphins, 49ers until he found a stable home on the Houston Gamblers in the USFL.

Donald Payne didn’t just find stability but he dominated as the best linebacker in the league. He finished his season with two Defensive Player of the Week honors, led the league in tackles and was named to the inaugural All-USFL Team Defense. Payne is a case to be made when it comes to why these spring leagues work. Payne is essentially everything you would want in a camp linebacker. He could genuinely threaten the room to make the 53.

Why he makes sense for the Rams

This guy makes more sense than Stribling. It’s not just production this could be a legit fit here. The issue with Payne is his size but the Los Angeles Rams do not care about size. They currently have seven linebackers on the roster in Bobby Wagner, Ernest Jones, Travin Howard, Christian Rozeboom, Jake Hummel, Jake Gervase and Anthony Hines III. However, there is an argument for Payne in that he might actually be the better option than almost half of those names. Hines just played against serious competition, he’s in game shape and could push guys like Hummel and Rozeboom who are thought of as likely or close to likely to make the roster.

EDGE Chris Odom, Houston Gamblers

Another 27-year-old that can rush the passer. Chris Odom went undrafted in 2017 out of Arkansas State but has since bounced around from the Falcons, Packers, the AAF’s Salt Lake Stallions, Washington Football Team, the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders and of course the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. Odom just had a 12.5 sack season for the Gamblers.

Odom has already played in the NFL a bit but his season this year in the USFL led to him being the USFL Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s sack leader. He is a player that shockingly left the NFL and started playing in Canada. He made the most of his USFL career and now one has to imagine that the best defensive player in the league is going to get some serious looks for teams that need pass rushing help. Clearly, a player who averaged more than a sack per game can do that for you.

Why he makes sense for the Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have a fun group of edge defenders. They have Leonard Floyd who is a guaranteed shoe-in to start. They also have Justin Hollins who is the favorite to start in addition to the talents behind him Terrell Lewis, Chris Garrett and this year’s seventh-rounder Daniel Hardy. However, Odom makes some sense here as someone who could in fact not only add depth but even potentially a starter alongside Floyd.

I’m not advocating for the Rams to replace Hollins but I do think Odom would provide serious depth as someone who is in game shape right now and just won a sack title. Garrett is going into year two having only really played in preseason, Hardy is a rookie who is raw and more of a long-term developmental piece and Lewis hasn’t been able to stay healthy. With that said, Odom might be a sensible option here as the Rams try to stabilize the outside linebacker room.

EDGE Davin Bellamy, New Orleans Breakers

He was drafted as the first defensive player off the board in the USFL draft. The 27-year-old out of Georgia bounced all over the NFL until eventually giving the USFL a shot. It was clearly the right call. From the Texans, Bengals, Titans, 49ers and the Chargers, Bellamy found himself unable to crack the roster in a way that would give him a stable role. He did just that in New Orleans.

Bellamy won the Defensive Player of the Week in week one following his three sack performance against the Philadelphia Stars. Bellamy was named to the All-USFL team in addition to this. He finished the season with 5.5 sacks and 40 tackles. Bellamy was a key component to the Breakers rock solid defense that led them to the Southern Semi Finals.

Why he makes sense for the Rams

Once again, the Los Angeles Rams don’t have a guarantee with anyone in their outside linebacker room aside from Leonard Floyd. As good as Justin Hollins looked last year, he did get banged up to the point the Rams felt obligated to go out and make a trade for Von Miller. There’s speculation the Rams could unload their 2023 2nd-round pick for a pass rusher this year and potentially even their 2024 1st-round pick as well. If they could hit it home with the depth here they could save that capital for another day.

OT Calvin Ashley, New Jersey Generals

The 24-year-old Calvin Ashley had a different path to the USFL. He retired from the NFL to focus on his mental health leading to a release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ashley was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was expected to be very good at the next level following his commitment to play for Auburn. He only played five games while there before transferring to Florida Atlantic and then eventually Florida A&M.

Ashley came back to the sport this year and joined the Generals. At 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, USFL teams were gushing over his potential as someone who seemingly didn’t play a whole lot. In the USFL, he did. Ashley helped lead the Generals run game to 165.9 yards per game and 13 rushing touchdowns. Ashley was a midseason All-Star but surprisingly was omitted from the All-USFL Team in favor of veteran teammate Terry Poole.

Why he makes sense for the Los Angeles Rams

With Rob Havenstein nearing the end of his deal, Joe Noteboom always a question mark in regards to durability. The only other option being Alaric Jackson and a rookie AJ Arcuri. It might make some sense to go out and give Calvin Ashley a shot. Ashley is still very young and finally got a chance to play and did very well in New Jersey. He wouldn’t have to start immediately but he’s someone where Kevin Carberry could turn him into the next right tackle for the Rams after Havenstein.

TE Sal Cannella, New Orleans Breakers

The 25-year-old Sal Cannella was a big-time target for quarterback Kyle Sloter in New Orleans. Cannella showed flashes of brilliance from his days at Auburn but unfortunately never got a chance as he was cut by the Miami Dolphins. He joined the USFL this year and had himself a season that could have very well put him back in the NFL to stay.

Cannella was named to the All-USFL Team as the top tight end in the league. He finished the season with 368 yards on 34 receptions and two touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds Cannella has the body for the NFL. He might be best off utilized in the passing game especially in the red area but he is not a bad blocker at all and could contribute in that area.

Why he makes sense for the Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have a fun tight end room. Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins, Jacob Harris, Roger Carter, Jamal Pettigrew in addition to Kyle Parkway and Jared Pinkney. However, I do think Sal Cannella could push as high as second-string in camp this year. He’s a very good receiver and just showed off some serious upside. At just 25 years old he’s younger than Kendall Blanton and the same age as Brycen Hopkins. He might not have Super Bowl experience but he’s recently caught more passes and had more usage than both of them combined. The recent reps should be good for him and definitely could put him on the Rams radar.

WR Victor Bolden Jr., Birmingham Stallions

Victor Bolden Jr. is an explosive jitterbug type of player. The 27-year-old made the All-USFL Team this season. It was a big bounce back for his career after bouncing around the 49ers, Bills and Lions franchises. Bolden found a home in Birmingham and didn’t disappoint.

Bolden finds himself playing for a championship this weekend and he’s a big reason for that. A true lightning rod for Skip Holtz’s team, Bolden finished the regular season with 415 receiving yards, a touchdown and almost 800 total return yards. He only came away with one score but was able to make some big time plays to extend drives and work after the catch. Bolden definitely played his way back into the NFL in all likelihood.

Why he makes sense for the Los Angeles Rams

First off, it’s kind of cool that Bolden had familiarity with Matthew Stafford from his time with the Lions. Regardless of that, the Los Angeles Rams are hoping to bring back Odell Beckham Jr. but it’s not a guarantee and if it does happen he won’t be ready to go until the latter portion of the season. Insert Victor Bolden who could really push the likes of Ben Skowronek, Brandon Powell and even Tutu Atwell for reps in the offense and on special teams. Bolden is a player that probably should have stuck around in the NFL before but just had the unfortunate luck of the league. He’s blown up his stock this season in the USFL to the point he should be on the NFL’s radar.

RB Reggie Corbin, Michigan Panthers

The former Illinois running back was compared to Gio Bernard right of the gate. He was highly regarded for his character and his intelligence. Reggie Corbin is a player that had been through some tough injuries in his career and just breaks in general. He never gave up football after going undrafted in 2020 and not getting an NFL opportunity. He went to the CFL but didn’t keep him long. Corbin took advantage of his USFL opportunity and came away with a league-leading 516 rushing yards, 6.3 yards per carry and 86 rushing yards per game. He even had the longest run of the year at 88 yards and did all of this in just six games and four total starts.

The 26-year-old Corbin placed himself right in the spotlight this year and ultimately should be the top running back to go into the NFL this year. Corbin made the All-USFL team and had he been on a winning team he probably could have won the league MVP. His only shot he had in the NFL was halted by a positive covid test in Seattle before the workout but there’s a pretty good chance that he will have plenty more of those workouts this season after the year he had.

Why he makes sense for the Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have a very good backfield that is headlined by a trio of Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson and fifth-round Notre Dame standout rookie Kyren Williams. Williams is nursing a foot injury though, however, the Rams do also have Xavier Jones who current Running Back coach Ra’Shaad Samples is very familiar with in addition to Jake Funk, Raymond Calais and AJ Rose. Corbin really could challenge all the way up to running back three with Williams starting off slow due to injury.

If the Rams felt like the injury history of Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, Jake Funk and now Kyren Williams was enough to justify adding another back, Reggie Corbin would have to be the guy. Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher just coached him and spoke highly of him. Besides the fact he was dominant in the league, coaches just absolutely love the kid. It sounds like he would fit the Rams culture and at 26 with Henderson in a contract year, he could legitimately be a huge pickup here in a league that is predicated on having more than two running backs you can count on.

QB Kyle Sloter, New Orleans Breakers

The 28-year old gunslinger really has had some of the worst breaks in the industry. He started off at Southern Mississippi red-shirting and in the driver’s seat to take the starting QB job. However, a new coach came in by the name of Todd Monken who derailed the plan entirely bumping Kyle Sloter down to the bottom of the depth chart. Sloter in an effort to play moved to wide receiver but he eventually had his scholarship pulled and transferred to North Colorado to play QB. He didn’t play quarterback his first three years of college until eventually getting in his senior season and throwing 29 touchdowns 10 interceptions and 2,656 yards.

Sloter finally joined the USFL after being under contract and unable to play in the AAF and XFL leagues. Sloter led the New Orleans Breakers to the playoffs while fighting through a laundry list of injuries. He ended up throwing nine touchdowns and 1,798 yards. Unfortunately for Sloter his abilities were limited by the coaching staff’s incredibly predictable RPO-driven offense and his injuries from the lack of protection he had this year in the pocket. The stats do not tell the true story of what he was able to do for the Breakers. The coaches saw this and voted him as All-USFL QB. One has to imagine if he was given a real opportunity in a real offense he could really do something in the NFL.

Why he makes sense for the Rams

Kyle Sloter makes a lot of sense for the Rams actually. With the Rams already diving into the spring football pool to pick out a quarterback, this wouldn’t be considered anything new for the team to do. Matthew Stafford knows Sloter from his short time with the Lions but more importantly Sean McVay’s mentor Jon Gruden knows Sloter from his time in Las Vegas. Due to his experience in learning Gruden’s offensive system, Sloter would theoretically know the basis of McVay’s right away which would make him an asset.

Sloter has the mobility and arm talent that the Los Angeles Rams could genuinely try and develop further. With his overall knowledge of the game and real experience running real offenses, the team could take a look at him to be the backup to Stafford. Wolford is under a one-year deal and Bryce Perkins is another guy who may push for that backup role. However, Sloter would definitely be an option as someone who has been on NFL rosters, learned multiple offenses and has ultimately grown as a player. He’s gone through a lot and has the makings of potentially being the next guy to come “out of nowhere” if given a shot. While Stafford has been signed to a five-year deal, it’s never a bad idea to have a good QB with talent and intelligence you can trust behind that type of starter.

QB Case Cookus, Philadelphia Stars

The 26-year-old Cookus is playing in the championship game this weekend. He’s bounced around the Giants, Broncos, Vikings, Raiders and CFL. However, what is impressive about Cookus is his unlikely rise in the USFL. Cookus wasn’t initially supposed to start but he eventually slid in for the injured Bryan Scott after he hurt his knee earlier in the year. The quarterback then threw 12 touchdowns, 1,334 yards and had a 62.5 completion percentage.

Cookus has been everything the Stars could have wanted out of their backup quarterback. He even has 217 rushing yards on 22 carries. When you look at Cookus he has the arm and he has the mobility needed to play the QB spot. It’s why NFL teams are most definitely keeping him on their radar. He was already in the NFL and basically became a meme with how often his name came up on team transactions.

Why he makes sense for the Los Angeles Rams

For the same reasons above I listed for Kyle Sloter you can argue Cookus fits the bill as well. For my money Cookus should be considered the backup option to Sloter who I would prefer over him. Cookus, however, also has NFL experience and is younger. I don’t think he has the talent Sloter has where as I think Sloter could start if given the opportunity. I really do think Cookus is more of an NFL backup even at his best but that is someone the Los Angeles Rams could look at like Wolford. Either way, expect the Rams to add one more quarterback in camp to push Bryce Perkins.

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