With the 2022 NFL Preseason coming closer and closer, there are a number of players who will be fighting for a shot to make the 53-man roster or at least the practice squad. While many teams are close to finalizing the players, they will be bringing into training camp and/or for the preseason, some players still remain from other leagues (ex. The CFL, USFL, etc.). Here are five lower-level football players who belong in the NFL:
Nathan Rourke, QB, CFL
Weight: 209 pounds
Current Team: BC Lions
Quality backup QBs are certainly at a premium in the NFL. Injuries to starting quarterbacks happen every year, so it is of the utmost importance to have a player who can step in and minimize mistakes in the starter’s absence. Training camp and the preseason are certainly times to figure out who can fit into that backup role and provide solid depth for the team. Nathan Rourke of the CFL can certainly fit that. Through three games of the CFL season, Rourke has already passed for 1,077 yards with 9 TDS to just 2 INTS. He also provides some dual-threat ability as he has 15 carries for 180 yards, showing flashes of the scrambling ability that is becoming more and more important in today’s NFL.
Nicknamed “Maple Brady” by fans of the CFL, Rourke already looks like the league’s best quarterback at only 24 years old through three games. If he remains steady throughout this season, he’ll surely receive an NFL training camp invite after this season.
Channing Stribling, CB, USFL
Weight: 175 pounds
Current Team: Philadelphia Stars
Size at the cornerback position is a premium in today’s NFL, especially when it comes to defending some of the taller receivers in the league (ex. Mike Evans, Drake London this season, etc.). Channing Stribling brings solid height, the ability to make a play on the ball, and excels at getting physical with receivers due to his long frame. Stribling is currently listed at 6-2 and led the USFL in interceptions with 7. Still just 27 years old, Stribling is somebody with experience in a number of leagues who can help to make a cornerback group in training camp or preseason more competitive with his current skill set.
Jaelon Acklin, WR, CFL
Weight: 190 pounds
Current Team: Ottawa Redblacks
Teams can never have too much depth at the receiver position as wideouts at the lower end of the depth chart are cycled through constantly. This is where a player of Jaelon Acklin’s caliber can contribute. Currently, through three games of the CFL season, Acklin has 16 catches for 244 yards with 15.3 YDS/CAT. This is a player who excels due to his short-area quickness, vertical explosiveness, and smooth route running. In a league where so much emphasis has been placed on the passing game, it is important to be able to have a player who can help to stretch the field vertically in order to keep opposing defenses honest.
Chris Odom, EDGE, USFL
Weight: 260 pounds
Current Team: Houston Gamblers
In just a 10-game season, Chris Odom proved that he is a strong pass-rusher in any minor football league. He compiled 12.5 sacks for the Houston Gamblers and was a matchup nightmare for anybody he lined up across due to his combination of speed and tenacity. In a league where getting after the quarterback is a must, especially with how elusive QBs like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen have proven to be, Odom can step in and provide quality depth for a team that has struggled at pass-rushing the past few years. He doesn’t have ideal size for the position, but he makes up for it with his production.
Kavontae Turpin, WR, USFL
Weight: 155 pounds
Current Team: New Jersey Generals
Kavontae Turpin was the MVP of the newly reformed USFL as he put up 921 all-purpose yards along with 5 total touchdowns. While Turpin primarily flourished as a receiver, his versatility is something that NFL teams could use, especially in the preseason. Turpin was used as a receiver, a running back, and on special teams. This is certainly a player who brings a lot to the table. Despite standing at just 5-9, Turpin has the shiftiness and versatility that can certainly help an NFL team on at least special teams.