The inaugural USFL draft kicked off on February 22 in Birmingham, Alabama, and the fifth name off the board was a familiar one for Philadelphia Eagles fans. The Houston Gamblers took Clayton Thorson in the first round, presumably to make the 26-year-old their franchise quarterback.
Thorson was originally selected by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft but never made it out of training camp. He had a legitimate shot to win a roster spot as the backup (and possibly take over as the pre-Jalen Hurts successor to Carson Wentz) that year after a slew of injuries hit the quarterbacks room. Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler both suffered serious injuries in the preseason, but then the Eagles signed Josh McCown.
Thorson was horrible whenever his number was called. He went 30-of-62 for 266 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown in four preseason games, with a dismal 45.5 QBR. He was cut in August 2019. He would later serve practice squad stints with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants before his contract expired on January 9, 2022.
Now, his football career will continue in a different league. Hall of Famer Warren Moon excitedly called out his name at the USFL draft by saying: “Looking forward to watching you, Clayton! Houston Gamblers all the way!” Perhaps Thorson can recapture his college magic, when he threw for 10,731 yards and 61 touchdowns playing for Northwestern.
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The United States Football League is a new eight-team league that will play a 10-game regular-season schedule starting April 16 in Birmingham and the postseason in June in Canton, Ohio. Training camps will open March 21. All regular-season games will be played in Birmingham.
Philly Native Kyle Lauletta Drafted, Too
Kyle Lauletta was chosen seventh overall by the Pittsburgh Maulers. Originally drafted by the New York Giants in 2018, the 26-year-old quarterback has multiple Philly ties. He’s an area native who played high school football at Downington East, then threw for a school-record 10,465 yards and 73 touchdowns at the University of Richmond. Lauletta joined the Eagles’ practice squad in 2019 before making stops in Atlanta, Cleveland, and Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Stars took Bryan Scott at No. 3. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback went undrafted out of Occidental College in 2017. He’ll be the starter for Philly’s other professional football team moving forward. Scott left college with 9,073 passing yards and 77 touchdowns, plus 402 rushing yards and 13 scores in 33 career games
The USFL draft is a 35-round event scheduled to span two days (February 22-23), with only quarterbacks available in Round 1. Edge rushers and defensive ends went off the board in Rounds 2 through 4.
Eagles Name Ed Block Courage Award Winner
Rodney McLeod was named the recipient of the 2021 Ed Block Courage Award as voted on by his Eagles teammates. The defensive captain started 13 games at safety while recovering from his second ACL tear since 2018. His game-sealing interception in Week 17 against Washington helped clinch a playoff spot for the Eagles.
One player from each NFL team receives the Ed Block Courage Award. It seeks to recognize “role models for their ability to overcome adversity while also serving their respective communities.” Winners will be honored April 2-3 in Baltimore.
McLeod told the Eagles’ website: “To receive this kind of recognition from my teammates, guys I go to battle with each and every day and week who see my grind and my passion for this game, I’m glad for them to recognize me with the award. It’s a blessing, to be honest. That’s the best way to describe it.”