Led by Head Coach Mike Riley, the New Jersey Generals successfully completed their first ever USFL draft last month. Riley is known in the arena of spring football for his coaching role with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF, leading them to a 5-3 record before the league shut down.
Riley also coached the Sea Lions in the TSL, making him familiar with some of the players in the USFL draft pool. Now, he is “taking command” of the Generals, and has effectively put together a roster that is capable of doing great things in the USFL’s debut.
There will be a supplementary draft held on March 10th, which will add a few more players to the team – but, for the most part, the 2022 New Jersey Generals roster is set in place.
Quarterback Room: Ben Holmes & De’Andre Johnson
With their first pick in the draft, the Generals selected quarterback Ben Holmes, which was an interesting choice. Holmes played for the Tarleton State Texans during his college career, and put up some excellent numbers. In his final year with the program, Holmes threw for over 3,300 yards alongside 34 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
Holmes participated in The Spring League, playing for the Sea Lions. It was a difficult season for Holmes, as he struggled to find a rhythm, finishing with just 200 yards and no touchdowns. New Jersey is taking a gamble with Holmes, as he has not proved himself on a professional level quite yet – but this is his chance to change that narrative.
De’Andre Johnson was a journeyman throughout his college years, before finding a groove at Texas Southern in 2019; throwing for almost 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 10 games.
Interestingly enough, Johnson was also a part of the Sea Lions’ 2021 team, sharing the quarterback position with Holmes. Johnson threw for 576 yards and five touchdowns, while also showing what he could do with his legs. Despite Holmes being the first round pick, it would not be a surprise to see Johnson on the field quite a bit for the Generals this season.
Another spectacular throw from De’Andre Johnson displaying his ability to throw deep.
When he was on, he was excellent. However, he may have been the biggest hot/cold quarterback in the Spring League in 2021. Consistency was a problem for him this year. pic.twitter.com/qjJT8lIlqL
Trey Williams is a smaller, hard-nosed running back that should fit Riley’s offensive scheme quite well. In fact, Williams was coached by Riley in the AAF, being a part of that Commanders team. After the organization folded, Williams joined the Seattle Dragons of the XFL, and played quite well during the short season.
Williams comes out of Texas A&M, running for over 1,300 yards and averaging 6.6YPC through three years. His underrated athleticism makes him an excellent option in both the ground and air, as Williams can make an impact in the screen game.
Mike Weber is another excellent addition to the Generals’ backfield. He is best known for his standout seasons at Ohio State, notching almost 2,700 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground through three years. Weber was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, but never got a tangible chance in the NFL. With the USFL, Weber has an opportunity to revive his professional career.
Wide Receiver Core
The Generals drafted five wide outs: KaVontae Turpin, J’Mon Moore, Darrius Shepherd, Christopher Platt Jr., and Randy Satterfield.
KaVontae Turpin played college ball for Texas Christian University, racking up over 1,700 yards through four seasons with the team. Spring football fans will recognize Turpin, as he played in both Fan Controlled Football and The Spring League in 2021. His speed, agility, and excellent hands will make him a go-to guy for Johnson and Holmes – and that camaraderie is already present considering Turpin was on the Sea Lions in the TSL.
This is the ability that De’Andre Johnson flashes from time to time. Hits KaVontae Turpin in stride deep down the field.
J’Mon Moore is someone not everyone is familiar with, but has a very high ceiling coming into the USFL. In his final two years with Missouri, Moore had almost 2,100 yards alongside 18 scores. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2018, but only saw time as a backup kick returner. If given the chance, Moore can produce at a high level for the Generals in 2022.
Darrius Shepherd, Christopher Platt Jr. and Randy Satterfield fill out the rest of the Wide Receiver room, and all tell similar stories. Each has seen success on their respective college levels, but have not solidified themselves on a professional football team quite yet; and only time will tell if they can make an impact in the USFL.
The Generals signed two Tight Ends: Braedon Bowman, and Nick Truesdell. Bowman was solid at South Alabama, before seeing a bit of time with multiple NFL organizations (i.e. New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers) – but he has never made it past the practice squad stage.
Truesdell has played in the AAF, the XFL, and the TSL – performing at a high level in all three leagues. The sure-handed tight end is best known for his time with the Tampa Bay Vipers in the XFL, hauling in multiple impressive catches. Truesdell is a fantastic pickup for the Generals, providing a lot of talent at the TE position.
New Jersey drafted several offensive linemen: Tackles Garrett McGhin, Calvin Ashley, and Terry Poole; Guards Mike Brown and Evan Heim; and Center Jake Lacina.
Calvin Ashley is an interesting story to keep an eye on. The undrafted standout rookie from Auburn opted out of the NFL’s 2020 season due to COVID. In 2021, he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but retired to focus on his mental health and was later waived by the team. Now, he is looking to get back on the gridiron, playing for the Generals.
As for the rest of the group, each individual has spent time with at least one NFL organization – but most haven’t seen the football field during the season. Considering offensive lines need time to build chemistry, it is difficult to predict how they will perform – but with the NFL experience, they should be able to make it work.
The Generals selected three edge rushers: Bryson Young, Kolin Hill, and Malik Hamner. Young was a former standout at Oregon, notching 56 tackles in his final year with the program.
After being signed and waived by the Arizona Cardinals in 2021, Young joins the Generals looking to make an impact from the get go. Kolin Hill played for Texas Tech, while Hamner spent time with Jackson State. Both Hill and Hamner should provide depth at the edge position.
As for defensive tackles, the Generals signed: Destiny Vaeao, Toby Johnson, and Kalani Vakameilalo. Vaeao has spent time on multiple NFL rosters, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers during his professional career, and is primed to make his name known in the USFL.
Johnson played his college ball at Georgia, but never solidified himself as a professional. He did spend time with the XFL in 2020, but the league folded and he hasn’t played since. Vakameilalo was with Oregon State for a few years, but similar to Johnson has not been seen in the NFL. Both now have the chance to make a statement in the USFL, and only time will tell if this is the career boost that they needed.
Chris Orr, D’Juan Hines, Tim Walton Jr., and Angelo Garbutt make up the linebacker core for New Jersey. Orr has spent time with the Carolina Panthers, and most recently played for the Orlando Apollos of the AAF. Orr will most likely be a leader on the defensive end for the Generals, as he plays with an unmatched intensity.
Panthers UDFA MLB Chris Orr had 11.5 sacks last season. Badgers DC Jim Leonhard called his number on number of blitzes. Sorts through trash and sacks Justin Fields pic.twitter.com/oLg9woSR6I
Hines was a standout at the University of Houston, racking up 110 tackles in his senior year, and spent time with the Cleveland Browns. Walton Jr. and Garbutt both performed well in their respective colleges, but have not been on an NFL roster or practice squad. That being said, the Generals have a solid group of linebackers that should do some damage this year.
Defensive Backs & Safeties
Without a doubt, the Generals have one of the scariest secondaries in the league. Led by De’Vante Bausby, this group of players is poised to be a force to be reckoned with. Bausby in particular was outstanding in the Alliance of American Football, playing under Riley for the San Antonio Commanders; and later spent time with the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles.
De’Vante Bausby jumps the route for his 4th INT of the season!
The rest of the cornerback room consists of Trae Elston, David Rivers, and DeJuan Neal. All three spent time in the XFL during its 2020 season, alongside playing for an NFL organization and/or their practice squad at some point.
On top of their defensive backs, the team also signed two safeties to the roster: Shalom Luani, and Dravon Askew-Henry. Luani has been on a few different NFL rosters, but hasn’t gotten a chance to start, and is looking to change that in the USFL.
Askew-Henry played in the XFL for the New York Guardians, and performed at a high level throughout the short season. With all of this experience, the team is in great shape in their secondary heading into April.
Nick Rose was an easy choice for Riley to pick as a kicker, as he also played on the Commanders during the AAF’s 2019 season. Rose was impressive, knocking through multiple kicks from upwards of 50 yards. Heading into the USFL’s debut, Rose is one of the best options at the position.
Nick Rose proved in the AAF that he can consistently hit field goals. He was 14-14 with his longest being this 54 yard field goal. #Bearspic.twitter.com/dFxx3YFav2
The Generals also selected Scott Flanick as their sole Long Snapper, who played for the Army during his college career.
Overall Grade: B+
The New Jersey Generals are a bit of an anomaly as April 16th quickly approaches. Defensively, they have quite a bit of talent, and should be one of the best in the league on that end. Offensively, they also hold plenty of capable players – but the question is; will they exceed expectations, or leave fans wanting more?
For example, Ben Holmes has a high ceiling, but hasn’t proved himself quite yet. If New Jersey can put together a cohesive offensive scheme heading into the USFL’s 2022 season, the team will be in an excellent position to make a playoff push.
Are you satisfied with the Generals current roster? Do you think they can win the Championship this year? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!