After a disappointing 1-9 season in their debut season last year in the new USFL, the Pittsburgh Maulers looked to kick their 2023 season off on the right foot during the USFL College Draft, which was held on Tuesday.
The Maulers held the second pick in the draft, and they addressed the quarterback position second overall, taking former Incarnate Word and Walter Payton Award winner Lindsey Scott Jr. second overall. Scott Jr, who the Steelers met with during the NFLPA Bowl, threw for an FCS-record 60 touchdowns in 2023 while leading the Cardinals to a 12-2 record.
Pittsburgh followed up the selection of Scott Jr. by taking Lafayette defensive end Malik Hamm in the second round. Hamm’s Lafayette’s career sack leader with 32, and is a two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of The Year. The Maulers continued their small-school trend by taking former St. Francis offensive lineman Tre’Quan Dorsey in round three and former Southeastern Louisiana defensive back Ferlando Jordan in the fourth round. Jordan had 11 career interceptions and five career defensive touchdowns during his time in the FCS.
The Maulers took another FCS talent in the sixth round, taking highly-regarded EDGE Isaiah Land out of Florida A&M in the fifth. Land was a standout at the Senior Bowl, and it’s likely he, like many others selected in the USFL Draft, will explore their NFL prospects before committing to the USFL.
Land was a First-Team All-SWAC member in 2022 and was also an All-American. He will participate in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis next week.
After Land, the Maulers went back to the offensive line in Round 6, where they selected former North Dakota State offensive lineman Nash Jensen. Jensen played on the same offensive line as rising NFL Draft prospect Cody Mauch, and Jensen has great size for a guard at 6’4, 329 pounds.
In the seventh round, the Maulers grabbed Scott Jr.’s favorite target last season in Incarnate Word wide receiver Taylor Grimes. Grimes had 84 receptions for 1,255 yards and 15 touchdowns last season with Scott Jr. as his quarterback. His numbers over the last two seasons are an eye-popping 166 receptions for 2,400 yards and 30 touchdowns. Grimes could be a potential steal for the Maulers at 49th overall.
The Maulers again doubled down on a school, taking C.J. Turner, a wide receiver from Southeastern Louisiana, the same school as Jordan. Turner had 208 receptions, 2,779 yards and 23 touchdowns in four seasons of college ball. Ironically, his best game this past season came against Incarnate Word, where he had five receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
In the 9th round, Pittsburgh finally took their first FBS prospect, selecting Michigan State defensive lineman Jacob Slade. Slade started 26 games with the Spartans, registering 86 total tackles over four years. He had 11.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks during his time in East Lansing.
With their final selection, the Maulers addressed special teams, taking Ethan Evans, a punter from Wingate University. Evans was a participant in the East-West Shrine Bowl and served as Wingate’s punter and kickoff specialist.
The Maulers clearly made it a focus to prioritize small-school prospects in the draft, and that could be one that works out for them if some of their draft picks don’t attract NFL interest. Either way, the Maulers are going to have to build off their 1-9 season, and they’ll hope they did enough this offseason to make that happen.