The USFL just completed its final regular season game in its inaugural season, quite a milestone! I’ve been watching since Week 1, and it goes without saying that many of these guys are not in the NFL for a reason.
However, there were a few players who put together some excellent tape and should get a look from NFL teams to see if they can work them into their roster.
Here are three players I’d like the Bears to invite to training camp, just to see if maybe there’s more than meets there eye.
1. Chris Odom, DE (Houston Gamblers)
Odom bounced around a few teams in the NFL but never found a home between 2017 and 2021. He played forty-seven snaps with the Redskins in 2019, but made ten tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble in that limited time.
But he has been an absolute monster in the USFL, recording twelve sacks and forty-one tackles in ten games. He’s the leader in talks of the Defensive Player of the Year award and even for USFL MVP.
With the departure of Mack and the likely regression to the mean for Quinn, the Bears should investigate all options at beefing up their pass rush, and Odom deserves a look.
2. Jonathan Adams, WR (New Orleans Breakers)
Adams is only 23, and he’s a big guy at 6’ 3” and 220 lbs. In ten games in the USFL, he’s put up 406 yards on 31 receptions, plus three touchdowns, including a game-winning touchdown catch with ten seconds remaining in the game.
He’s been something of a safety blanket for Breakers’ QB Kyle Sloter, the “screw it, he’s out there somewhere” kind of receiver that QB’s love to have. If Sloter could get it anywhere close to Adams, odds are he was coming down with the reception.
Given the state of the Bears’ wide receiver room, we shouldn’t be sticking up our nose at any player who’s been making the kind of grabs that Adams has. I’d like to see him at camp to see if he could provide valuable depth. If he made it to the roster and posted something like 38 catches for 410 yards and a touchdown, I’d call that a success story.
3. Donald Payne, LB (Houston Gamblers)
Linebacker is another position group with several question marks for the Bears, though we at least have one of the league’s best in Roquan Smith. But we need depth here and Donald Payne provides that.
Standing 6 feet and 230 lbs, he’s got good size and speed to mesh with Eberflus’ HITS system. He’s registered 71 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 2 sacks in ten games, and has generally caused havoc and mayhem in the backfield.
Like Odom, Payne has extensive NFL experience, bouncing around from team to team. He did play in nine games for the Jaguars where he put up 76 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and a sack.
If nothing else, he’d provide a shot of energy on special teams, and we can’t afford to neglect that unit. I think there’s a division rival up north who might have a thing or two to say about neglecting special teams.