Top USFL Quarterbacks 2023: J’Mar Smith, Ryan Willis, Lindsey Scott, and Others

On the verge of another USFL season, let's give our best assessment of the top USFL quarerbacks across every team.

The USFL is returning for another season. We’ve scoured every team’s roster, the most recent draft, preseason reports, and other insights to assemble the following list of the top USFL quarterbacks heading into the 2023 campaign.

Top USFL Quarterbacks in 2023

In our weekly USFL quarterback rankings, performances from game to game will be taken into account in addition to each player’s pedigree and overall career résumé. For now, we’re going off of what we know, which admittedly is part evidence-based and part conjecture because depth charts remain heavily in flux.

1) J’Mar Smith, Birmingham Stallions

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A 12th-round pick in last year’s USFL Draft, J’Mar Smith helped lead his team to the USFL title. It was quite a story for the former Louisiana Tech star. While his numbers were somewhat muted, consider that he completed less than 55% of his pass attempts — one of the worst marks of any QB who started last season.

MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

I’m betting on improved passing from Smith that, combined with proficiency in the running game, could turn him into an impressive dual-threat quarterback on a great team. It adds up to the No. 1 spot on this list .. . at least for now.

2) Chase Cookus, Philadelphia Stars

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Probably a more popular No. 1 option, Chase Cookus is primed for a huge statistical campaign, at least by USFL standards. I’ve got three Philadelphia WRs in the top 14 at that position. The talent of these receivers is a big reason why. But we can’t ignore the strong probability that Cookus will elevate them, too.

3) McLeod Bethel-Thompson, New Orleans Breakers

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McLeod Bethel-Thompson possesses meaningful professional experience, which should serve him well in his USFL debut season. He spent the last six years with the Canadian Football League, where last year, he helped lead the Toronto Argonauts to the Grey Cup (championship). The 34-year-old can still sling it.

4) Ryan Willis, Memphis Showboats

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Does Ryan Willis have grit? Not sure — never met him. But after transferring from Kansas to Virginia Tech with no guarantees of ever taking another snap, he was forced into an emergency road start against 22nd-ranked Duke and proceeded to throw for 332 yards and three scores. At his best, Willis can be a star in the USFL.

5) Josh Love, Michigan Panthers

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This is where things get interesting. At this stage of the preseason, we could just as easily insert Tanner Morgan or Carson Strong. I’m not sure anyone can definitively say which Michigan QB will earn more snaps this year.

But for now, Josh Love seems like the safer pick. He was decent enough last season to earn another look. Candidly, I’m putting whoever starts Week 1 in this spot. Michigan has nowhere to go but up after a dismal 2022 output.

6) DeAndre Johnson, New Jersey Generals

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After playing college football at three different schools, DeAndre Johnson appears to have found a long-term home in New Jersey (or New York or Connecticut, depending on where he wants to pay taxes).

Current XFL player Luis Perez was a key driver of the Generals’ offense last season. But beyond his impressive 9:1 TD:INT line, Perez didn’t play any better than Johnson. And actually, it could be argued that Johnson played better, completing an incredible 72% of his pass attempts and averaging 10.3 yards per throw.

Those aren’t fluky numbers, or at least I don’t think they are. Can he be an elite USFL QB? I have my doubts. But he can be a highly proficient starter.

7) Kenji Bahar, Houston Gamblers

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Barring something unforeseen, Kenji Bahar should keep the starting job. While DeAndre Johnson benefited from playing in a highly functional offense, Bahar languished somewhat on the 3-7 Gamblers last year. His overall numbers weren’t “bad.” They simply reflected the subpar nature of the franchise as a whole.

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Montell Cozart and Terry Wilson will back up Bahar. Neither seems like an immediate threat to rise to the top of the depth chart. Bahar should be entirely adequate while starting at least seven games.

8) Lindsey Scott, Pittsburgh Maulers

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The Maulers are still licking their wounds from last season’s 1-9 performance. They selected Lindsey Scott with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. They have almost nothing to lose by throwing him out there in Week 1 (or perhaps Week 2 or Week 3) to see what he can do. That said, I’m not expecting a miraculous turnaround.

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