Clayton Thorson and Kyle Lauletta – two former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks – highlighted the first round of the inaugural USFL Draft in Birmingham, Alabama. But the league endured 34 more rounds and plenty more players with Eagles connections went off the board.
The most notable name was wide receiver Manasseh Bailey who caught a 99-yard air bomb from Jalen Hurts at 2020 training camp. The undrafted rookie out of Morgan State didn’t make it through final cuts and latched on with the New York Jets for a quick cup of coffee. Now the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder will try his luck in the USFL (United States Football League) after going to the Birmingham Stallions in the 17th round. Bailey famously ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.
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Philly Connection Hits Inaugural USFL Draft
Bailey wasn’t the only one. Here are the rest of those USFL draft picks with Philly ties:
De’Vante Bausby: The undrafted cornerback out of Pittsburg State was a member of the Eagles’ practice squad in 2017 and 2018 and earned a Super Bowl ring. He has seen action in 26 career games while making 60 total tackles and eight pass breakups during stints with Philly, Chicago, Denver, Arizona. The New Jersey Generals took him in the eighth round.
Ajene Harris: His time in midnight green was fleeting as he jumped into a 2019 preseason game 48 hours after taking a red-eye flight to Philly from California. He saw 17 snaps in that contest, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. That was it, his lone crack at making an NFL roster. The Pittsburgh Maulers took him in the ninth round.
Jameson Houston: A “lockdown” corner for Baylor University, Houston saw significant action in Weeks 14, 15, 17 for the Eagles in 2020 after injuries decimated their secondary. He signed a futures contract after the season, then the Eagles dealt him and a sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for Josiah Scott. The Michigan Panthers took him in the ninth round.
Trae Elston: Originally signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2016, Elston saw seven snaps for the Eagles in Week 3 during their 2017 Super Bowl run. He played in 13 games for the Buffalo Bills that same year and finished with 19 tackles and one interception. The 28-year-old played safety at Ole Miss and in the NFL but it looks like he’s switching over to cornerback in the USFL. Elston went to the New Jersey Generals in the ninth round.
Obi Melifonwu: The Connecticut product was termed an athletic “freak” when the Oakland Raiders selected him in the second round. He destroyed the 2017 Combine: vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash. Unfortunately, health became an issue for Melifonwu who was waived by the Eagles in 2021 with an injury designation. The 6-foot-4, 224-pound safety played in seven NFL games and made 10 tackles. He won a Super Bowl ring with New England in 2018. Melifonwu went to the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 18th round.
NFL Combine Kicks Off in Indianapolis
The NFL Scouting Combine officially begins today (February 28) in at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers will be the first to arrive as they get set to endure exams and interviews. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni will address the media on March 2 at 1:15 p.m.