A trio of former New England Patriots were selected on Day 1 of the inaugural United States Football League draft. And on Day 2, a long line of familiar names followed De’Vante Bausby, Will Likely and J’Mar Davis-Smith by the time all 35 position-based rounds had concluded.
Up next in the order were the wide receivers, safeties, centers, inside linebackers, guards, defensive tackles, running backs, fullbacks, outside linebackers, kickers, punters, tight ends and long snappers.
Here’s a glance through the past Patriots among them for the eight USFL teams.
Round 13, No. 2: Isaiah Zuber, wide receiver
Zuber signed with New England as an undrafted free agent in 2020. The wideout by way of Kansas State and Mississippi State would spend his rookie season on New England’s practice squad and appeared in four games as a standard elevation and Covid-19 replacement. The 24-year-old logged two receptions for 29 yards and two carries for 21 yards over that span. Zuber was waived last August and made subsequent stops with the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
Round 13, No. 4: Jeffrey Thomas, wide receiver
Our 1st pick of day 2 is in ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/D7jhjwsFll— Pittsburgh Maulers (@USFLMaulers) February 23, 2022
Thomas arrived as part of New England’s 2020 undrafted class. The former Miami Hurricane did not appear in a game for the organization during a preseason without them. He was placed on waivers at the league’s 53-man roster deadline that September. Now at age 23, Thomas checked in as the fourth wide receiver off the USFL draft board.
Round 13, No. 6: Quincy Adeboyejo, wide receiver
The Patriots signed Adeboyejo to the practice squad in the fall of 2019, and the former Ole Miss target was waived with the injury designation the following August after being retained on a futures contract. Adeboyejo had spent parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after going undrafted in 2017. The 26-year-old also made a stop in East Rutherford with the Jets.
TAMPA BAY BANDITS
Round 18, No. 4: Obi Melifonwu, safety
A native of Grafton, Mass., Melifonwu joined New England midway through the 2018 season on the way to earning a Super Bowl LIII ring. He remained as part of the practice squad in 2019 and was released the following April. The 27-year-old Melifonwu, an Oakland Raiders second-round pick out of UConn in 2017, most recently had a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Round 21, No. 4: Scooby Wright, inside linebacker
Originally a 2016 seventh-rounder out of Arizona, the 27-year-old Wright has now trekked through the NFL, AAF, XFL, The Spring League and USFL. The unanimous All-American’s time with the Patriots began late in the 2019 preseason. Wright was waived and spent subsequent weeks on the New England practice squad.
TAMPA BAY BANDITS
Round 21, No. 6: Christian Sam, inside linebacker
The Patriots selected Sam in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. The linebacker from Arizona State spent his rookie year on injured reserve and was waived during roster cutdowns in August 2019. Sam, whose stay brought a Super Bowl LIII ring, most recently was part of The Spring League with the Jousters. The 25-year-old previously spent time on three NFL practice squads.
Round 24, No. 3: Mike Barnett, defensive tackle
The Patriots waived Barnett with the injury designation leading up to the roster deadline in September 2020. The undrafted defensive lineman by way of Georgia had signed following a free-agent workout the week prior. Barnett, now 24, had a tour with the Detroit Lions last campaign.
TAMPA BAY BANDITS
Round 26, No. 2: John Atkins, defensive tackle
Atkins, also an ex-Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman, signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent in 2018. He was waived at the end of training camp that summer and has since appeared in 14 NFL games, including six starts, to log 22 tackles. The 29-year-old Atkins was most recently a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
NEW JERSEY GENERALS
Round 28, No. 6: Trey Williams, running back
Undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2015, Williams found himself claimed off waivers by the Patriots from the Dallas Cowboys as the calendar turned to December of his rookie season. The running back returned to waivers nine days later and agreed to sign to New England’s practice squad. Williams, now 29, was most recently with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
Round 31, No. 1: Kyahva Tezino, outside linebacker
The Carolina Panthers claimed Tezino off waivers prior to training camp in July 2020, when the Patriots elected to reduce to 80 instead of taking a split-squad approach. The 24-year-old linebacker had signed with New England as an undrafted rookie that spring out of San Diego State. Tezino was twice a first-team All-Mountain West selection.
The USFL’s 10-game, 12-week schedule begins in April at Protective Stadium and Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.