Players and Games for Bears to watch in UFL
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

Players and Games for Bears to watch in UFL

by - Correspondent -

The merger of the XFL and the USFL into the UFL provides a higher-quality spring football experience not only for fans but also for NFL teams to scout potential talent. The Dallas Cowboys have taken advantage of this the most, with kick returner Kavonte Turpin and kicker Brandon Aubrey both making a Pro Bowl following their acquisition from the USFL.

So, who are some players the Bears could take advantage of?

DC Defenders vs St. Louis Battlehawks

First, these games are worth tuning in for whether you are scouting for NFL talent or just want to watch a competitive football game. Between the USFL and XFL seasons last year, there was no match-up more competitive and fun to watch than when these two teams played each other.

It is no secret that Chicago is looking to build some depth at the wide receiver position. For the Defenders, they have receiver Kelvin Harmon, the North Carolina State product who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons back in college. He is new to spring football but surely has the potential for a breakout season with the Defenders, who had a 9-1 regular season record last season.

On the other hand, the Battlehawks have receiver Hakeem Butler who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals back in 2019. Going into the 2023 season, he was set to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers but was released due to injury. Back at college with Iowa State, Butler had 16 receiving touchdowns over his last two seasons and recorded 1,318 over 13 games in his final year of college.

Because they are division rivals, the Defenders and Battlehawks will play each other twice in the regular season, first on Sunday, April 28 (11 a.m./ESPN) and Sunday, May 19 (11 a.m./ABC).

Birmingham Stallions vs Houston Roughnecks

A pass rusher is another need for Chicago. While they most likely will not find themselves a starter in the UFL, it is a great place for the Bears to find some depth among their defensive ends.

The Birmingham Stallions have easily been the most dominant team across the USFL and XFL. They were the USFL Champions the past two seasons, winning 21 of their 24 games. Defense is clearly essential to a dominant team, and one person who should be a large part of the Stallions’ defense is defensive end Carlo Kemp. Kemp was fifth in the league last season in sacks and had a total of 51 tackles.

For Houston, they also had a strong team in the XFL last season despite not winning their division. However, they got an addition from the USFL - defensive end Adam Rodriguez. Rodriguez was third in the league with sacks, as he had a total of six. Rodriguez has a tendency to get to the quarterback, something the Bears will need to do more of in their season.

Like the Defenders and Battlehawks, the Stallions and Roughnecks will also face each other in weeks five and eight. The first matchup will be on Saturday, April 27 (6 p.m./FOX), while the second will be on Saturday, May 18 (7 p.m./ESPN2).

Michigan Panthers vs Memphis Showboats

Another need for Chicago is to develop some depth at safety. The secondary as a whole dealt with a lot of injuries in the first half of the season but did not have the same depth at safety they did at cornerback. While there are free agent acquisitions available, the UFL offers a chance to watch players in a higher level of competition than college usually has to offer.

For the Michigan Panthers, they have safety Shalom Luani, who was part of an All-USFL selection in 2022 and played for the New Jersey Generals last season. Luani played college with Washington State where he had eight interceptions over the course of two seasons. He only recorded one interception with the Generals last season but had a total of 44 tackles. Luani is a player to keep an eye on in the UFL this upcoming season.

The Memphis Showboats did not have the best season last year; with their 5-5 record, they finished last in their division. With the merger, like the other teams, they now have a mix of players from other teams and leagues while bringing back some of their players from last season. One such player is safety Kyree Woods. Woods had two interceptions last season, which was tied for seventh in the league last year. The Arizona product also spent 2022 with the Arizona Rattlers, part of the indoor football league, where he recorded a total of nine interceptions, four of those coming in one game.

Michigan and Memphis will also face each other during weeks five and eight of the UFL season, with their first game on Sunday, April 28 (2 p.m./FOX) and then again on Saturday, May 18 (3 p.m./FOX).

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