The Philadelphia Stars are 1-2 in their season of this USFL reboot. While the team has shown some consistency on offense, it’s obvious that the entire league needed more than four weeks to prepare, especially when it comes to the current offensive line play.
However, time is money and like most “feeder leagues,” every player lining up for the eight USFL teams is looking to impress NFL front offices. Believe it or not, among the eight teams are some diamonds in the rough. We’ve seen players in other leagues like PJ Walker parlay success into another shot at NFL glory. But, could a current USFL player make the 2022 Eagles roster?
Although the most beloved player on any Eagles roster is always the backup QB (That’s just how it is here in Philly) – will Eagles fans look to the USFL for player replacements? Philadelphia Eagles fans love asking the hypothetical “what if?”, so you know it’s only a matter of time before we start wondering what USFL players could make the 2022 team.
Well, that time is NOW. We found one name who might find his way onto the Philadelphia Eagles‘ roster after the Stars’ season ends, or perhaps even sooner.
USFL Tight End Could Be A Great Fit
The Stars run a more West-Coast-style offense than the Eagles. The team relies on more short passes to move down the field.
Their best wideout in the first three weeks has been Bug Howard who leads the team in most receiving categories. Listed as a tight end, he’s top 5 in the USFL in receiving yards (136), receiving TDs (2), yards after catch (73), and catch percentage (78.6 – 11 catches on 14 targets).
Howard was on six different practice squads and a couple of feeder league teams before landing with the Stars. He’s been around the block a few times since entering the pros as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina.
During his time with the Tar Heels, Howard played four seasons and made 146 catches for 2,048 yards and 18 touchdowns. He didn’t have a star quarterback like Sam Howells while playing from 2013 to 2016.
At 6’5, 240 pounds, Howard might be on the lighter side of the tight end scale in the NFL. However, he also would be a major size upgrade from anyone currently on the Eagles’ depth chart at wide receiver.
Will the Eagles sign USFL TE & trash the Whiteside experiment?
His main competition for a roster spot should come from J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The team is trying to convert the second-round pick to a TE to leverage his blocking ability, which he showed in the back half of 2021.
Listed at 6’2, 225 pounds, Arcega-Whiteside will lose the size battle to Howard. Howard’s catch percentage in the USFL follows his productivity level in college, where he only had four drops over 46 games.
Howard has shown the ability to get open in patterns and make defenders miss. That alone should give him consideration for the team’s red-zone packages, especially when their lack of size around the end zone led to pass interference calls that negated touchdowns.
College Draft Pick vs USFL Standout
Howard’s case was much stronger before the Eagles spent their final draft pick Saturday on Grant Calcaterra from SMU. The team will look to the former Oklahoma recruit to bring an extra element to the 12 personnel they run to stretch the field.
Getting someone who was a highly-considered recruit out of high school with a Day 3 pick would be a steal for the Birds if Calcaterra can overcome his injury history and produce in the pros. However, that shouldn’t completely cut off Howard’s path to the NFL.
While there may not be as much incentive to watch the Stars, especially with a Friday night at 10 PM kickoff this week against the Michigan Panthers, Bug Howard is certainly a name to watch.
So, will the Eagles sign USFL Stars TE? We’ll have to wait and see, but he appears to be the Stars’ best prospect to make the leap to the NFL.