Earlier today, we recapped a busy day one of the Pittsburgh Maulers’ draft with twelve players selected Tuesday. The draft continues today and over the first two days, several former Steelers have heard their names called by the other seven USFL teams. Here’s a recap of those names Steelers’ fans would recognize.
Cavon Walker/DT – Michigan Panthers
Walker was the first ex-Steeler to be taken, a high pick at the top of the third round. His time with the Steelers was brief, signing in April of 2020 after the XFL folded at the start of the pandemic, one of many players to land on NFL rosters that way. Walker was carried through camp and released at final cutdowns. Without public training camp practices or any preseason games, we hardly have any notes on him.
Walker was originally a UDFA out of Maryland who signed with the Chicago Bears.
Brian Allen/CB – Birmingham Stallions
Allen was the second ex-Steeler taken, selected with the seventh pick of the eighth round. Allen was drafted by the Steelers in the 5th round of the 2017 draft, a well-built cornerback making the transition from wide receiver. But he never lived up to his physical traits and despite occasionally flashing in training camp, only ever appeared in 16 games for the Steelers as a reserve and special teamer. He’s bounced around the NFL since, picking up a 2020 start with the San Francisco 49ers, and was most recently with the Cleveland Browns late this season. Now he’ll try to put on good tape with the Stallions, presumably with the hope of getting back into the NFL this fall.
Paxton Lynch/QB – Michigan Panthers
Lynch was next off the board, taken late in the 12th round by the Michigan Panthers. A former first round pick of the Denver Broncos, the Steelers attempted to revive Lynch’s career, signing him in 2019 following Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow surgery. Lynch spent the year as a reserve, reportedly impressing with the big arm that got him drafted, but never appeared in a game. He’s since spent time in the CFL and though he was drafted, Lynch was the last QB selected in the USFL draft. Not a promising sign.
Eli Rogers/WR – Tampa Bay Bandits
A reunion for this upstart league. Rogers is back with former Steelers’ OC Todd Haley, now the head coach of the Tampa Bay team. An impressive UDFA from Louisville, Rogers made the Steelers roster and briefly flashed in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, he finished second on the team in receptions (48) and receiving yards (594) while tied for the second most touchdowns (3).
Unfortunately, Rogers tore his ACL in the 2017 Wild Card loss to Jacksonville. Pittsburgh later re-signed him and he saw action at the end of the 2018 season but caught just 12 passes for 79 yards. Despite signing a two-year deal, the Steelers cut him prior to the start of the 2019 season. Since, he spent time in the XFL and CFL. Still only 29, hopefully this can be Rogers’ path back into the NFL.
Dravon Askew-Henry/S – New Jersey Generals
Askew-Henry signed with the Steelers as a UDFA in 2019. A Western PA native from Aliquippa, he attended West Virginia before inking a deal with Pittsburgh. His time with the team was brief, spending the summer with them before being released at final cutdowns. Since, he’s spent time with the Jaguars and Giants. He’s best known as being the cousin of Darrelle Revis.
TJ Carter/DL – Michigan Panthers
The Panthers are busy scooping up ex-Steelers, Carter their third so far. Signed as a UDFA in 2021, Carter didn’t flash much in training camp this year but survived the first initial waves of cuts. Here’s what we wrote about him this summer.
“Carter has some functional strength at the point of attack and a little bit of versatility, playing up and down the line. In 13 defensive snaps in three games, he’s played all five defensive tackle spots (LDE, LDT, NT, RDT, RDE). He should play a good bit in the finale though I can’t imagine he sticks around and lands on the Week One practice squad. Not with the depth they have. But they sure like him more than I did.”
Carter was a UDFA out of Kentucky.
Tony Brooks-James/RB – Birmingham Stallions
Brooks-James spent part of the 2019 season with the Steelers when the backfield was decimated by injury. He carried the ball just eight times for seven yards, including the final carry of the game following the Myles Garrett/Mason Rudolph incident. He was brought back in the middle of training camp this year but did not make the final roster.
Trey Williams/RB – New Jersey Generals
Williams briefly earned preseason buzz with the Steelers thanks to a punt return touchdown he had in 2017. Despite that splashy moment, he failed to make the team and has been part of six teams since then, including stints with the CFL. Williams went undrafted in 2015 out of Texas A&M.