It was rough being a Pittsburgh Maulers fan in 2022.
Pittsburgh would only win one game all year and had controversy surrounding the team with infamous events like the De’Veon Smith Pizza situation. But with a new year comes a new page for this Maulers team and the colors aren’t going to be the only thing different for them as it won’t be Kirby Wilson at the helm, it will be former Browns and Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton. It wasn’t just the coaching that created such a poor first outing. The Maulers had the worst 2022 draft with their top 2 quarterbacks, one of their top running backs and their top receiver all being off the team by the end of the year.
This team certainly needs an influx of talent, some of that has already came with the 26 additions they have made this offseason, but more will come especially with the 2nd overall pick that is in their possession. They would’ve had the top pick, but the USFL made a last second rule change that made it so the winner of the week 10 matchup between the 1-8 Maulers and the 1-8 Panthers would get the top pick. This didn’t end well for Pittsburgh as they lost 33-21 and they in the process lost the top pick. Let’s look at how the Maulers roster looks going into the draft.
The Maulers have 58 players rostered as of 2/15/23.
Additions: James Morgan, FIU; Troy Williams, Utah; Chase Fourcade, Nicholls State; Connor Sampson, Western Illinois
Losses: Vad Lee, James Madison; Roland Rivers, Slippery Rock
Whenever a team starts 4 quarterbacks in 10 games, something has gone wrong. The Maulers came into 2022 with Kyle Lauletta and Josh Love but neither played well enough and both were cut and are now on different rosters (Lauletta in New Jersey and Love in Michigan). They would bring in Vad Lee and Roland Rivers as the band-aid fixes for the last half of the season and Lee especially played valiantly winning their only win with a last second touchdown against the Gamblers. It was clear that they weren’t the long-term solutions, and both are gone with Lee signing into the CFL with the BC Lions. They have brought in a few new faces to compete for the starting role in 2023. The most notable addition was former Jets 4th round pick James Morgan. He was last on the Cardinals practice squad and signed with the team after his contract expired. The rest of the QBs are guys who haven’t made much of an impact at the NFL level all though Troy Williams and Chase Fourcade were CFL journeyman and Fourcade’s uncle John Fourcade was a QB in the original USFL for the Memphis Showboats. This is one of the more interesting QB rooms in the USFL and I could see if the right guy falls to 2, them jumping on it but I don’t see them going out of their way to add to this room.
RB Madre London, Tennessee; Garrett Groshek, Wisconsin
WR Bailey Gaither, San Jose State; Tre Walker, San Jose State; Jalen McCleskey, Tulane; Isiah Hennie, Sacramento State; Delvon Hardaway, Fresno State
TE Artayvious Lynn, TCU; Matt Seybert, Michigan State
RB Duane Gary, Western Connecticut State
FB Mason Stokke, Wisconsin
WR Samson Nacua, BYU; Hunter Rison, Grand Valley State; Josh Simmons, Prairie View A&M; Xavier Lewis, Southeastern Louisiana
TE Datryan Evans, Friends
FB Mikey Daniel, South Dakota State
WR J’Mon Moore, Missouri
TE Hunter Thedford, Utah
In 2022, the Maulers had some players show flashes like Tre Walker, Bailey Gaither, and Madre London but it seemed like none of them were able to put it all together game in and game out. The offseason at these positions has been interesting because the biggest acquisition was J’Mon Moore who was in the first ever trade when he was sent from New Jersey. Moore wouldn’t last long in Pittsburgh as he opted out of year two. The strategy for Pittsburgh was seemingly to look under every rock as they signed guys from Western Connecticut State, Prairie View A&M, Friends, and Southeastern Louisiana. I could see them using a pick at any of the skill positions in the draft, but none of them seem like very pressing needs.
T Jerrod Brooks, UTEP; Charles Baldwin, Youngstown State
G Xavier Dampeer, Auburn; Justin Evans, SC State; Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin
C Brayden Patton, Northern Illlinois
T Dominic Logan Jr., Oklahoma State
G Jerome Brown, Lincoln; Colby Thomas, Sam Houston State
T Chidi Okeke, Tennessee State; Abdul Beecham, Kansas State
G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Nico Falah, USC
Every team lost some offensive linemen this offseason, but Pittsburgh might have had the most leave. The Maulers lost 4 of their 5 starters with Chidi Okeke, Vadal Alexander, and Abdul Beecham leaving to the XFL and Nico Falah opting out. This leaves Pittsburgh with a lot of holes to fill. So far, they’ve only added 3 players to the group but there needs to be a lot more added before the start of camp. This group is the one that needs the most work before the season and the most likely starts with the best offensive lineman in the draft at #2 overall.
DL Boogie Roberts, San Jose State; Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin; Christopher Okoye, Ferris State; Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri; Will Miles, Central Methodist; Leevel Tatum III, Arizona
EDGE Nasir Player, East Tennessee State
DL Savion Williams
Edge Vaughn Taylor Jr., Morehead State
DL Jeremiah Pharms Jr., Friends
EDGE Carlo Kemp, Michigan; Eric Assoua, Western Michigan; Darrius Moragne, Kansas
The defensive front was a strength of the 2022 Pittsburgh Maulers. That room sent 2 players to the NFL in Carlo Kemp who is now a Charger and Jeremiah Pharms who is a Patriot. They were able to retain fan favorite Boogie Roberts to be their run stuffing defensive tackle. The offseason has been pretty quiet on the additions front with only 2 additions to the 4 losses. Edge rusher should be one of the focus points for the rest of the offseason as they only have 2 rostered. Expect at least one pick to be spent on the defensive line.
Returning: Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State; Dale Warren, Chattanooga; Blaze Alldredge, Missouri; Malcolm Howard, Central Oklahoma
Additions: Reuben Foster, Alabama
Losses: EJ Ejiya, North Texas; Zane Zandier, Virginia
This might be the room with the least amount of turnover in the league. The only loss they suffered was EJ Ejiya who spent the majority of the season on injured reserve. This means they get to bring back everyone else including the player with the 4th most tackles with 86 in Kyahva Tezino. On top of all of that, they were able to sign one of the most notable names this offseason in former 1st round pick Reuben Foster. This room seems solid so I don’t imagine a top pick here, but they could look to add some depth but it’s a clear strength.
CB Jaylon McClain-Sapp, Marshall; Keith Gibson Jr., Mary-Hardin Baylor
S Bryce Torneden, Kansas; Arnold Tarpley III, Vanderbilt; Eli Walker, Kansas State; Malcolm Elmore, Central Methodist
CB Trajan Bandy, Miami; Shedrick Kirk, Kentucky-Wesleyan; Caleb Ham, Fordham; Sedevyn Gray, West Alabama
S Beau Tanner, BYU; Eric Burrell, Wisconsin
CB Shakur Brown, Michigan State; Terrell Bonds, Tennessee State
S Devin Hafford, Tarleton State
The Maulers gave up the second least amount of passing yards in 2022 but this secondary will look very different to that secondary. Pittsburgh would have three members of their secondary in Shakur Brown, Terrell Bonds, and Devin Hafford jump to the NFL but none of them would stick and all three are in the XFL or CFL. This secondary isn’t devoid of talent as the only Pittsburgh Mauler to be a part of the All-USFL team, safety Bryce Torneden is back and other key contributors in Jaylon McClain-Sapp and Arnold Tarpley III are back too. They added a few names to the group, but I could see them continuing to improve these groups in draft especially at cornerback.
The Maulers could use a good draft to put them back in the mix for the North. Most fans already saw the change they wanted with head coach Ray Horton taking over but their work is by no means done. They are going to need upgrades at wide receiver, offensive line, edge rusher, and cornerback if they are going to be able to stick with the big dogs in the north like New Jersey and Philadelphia.
What are your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Maulers going into USFL Season 2? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.