Former First-Round Pick Paxton Lynch Is Only NFL-Caliber QB Taken in USFL Draft

Ex-Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson was selected No. 1 overall by the Michigan Panthers of the eight-team league

Paxton Lynch walks off the field after playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016
Paxton Lynch walks off the field after playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016.
Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty

Attempting to return in April after playing three seasons in the mid-1980s before folding thanks to an ill-advised decision to attempt to compete with the NFL in the fall, the reimagined United States Football League held the first day of its inaugural draft on Tuesday.

Of the 101 players selected across 12 rounds, only one was a quarterback who entered the NFL as a top prospect: Paxton Lynch.

Lynch, who was a first-round selection (No. 26) overall in the 2016 NFL draft and made four starts during his two seasons with the Denver Broncos, was taken with the final selection of the 12th round on Tuesday night by the Michigan Panthers. The Panthers also had the first overall pick in the draft and used it to select former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson, who went undrafted and was signed as a rookie free agent by the Chiefs but was waived by Kansas City before the 2020 season.

Recently released by the Saskatchewan RoughRiders of the Canadian Football League after riding the bench for the entire season, 28-year-old Lynch will attempt to beat out Patterson for the starting job. In his career with the Broncos, Lynch passed for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Playing college ball for Memphis from 2013 to 2015, he passed for 8,863 yards, 59 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

Starting with Patterson, here are all the quarterbacks who were picked in the first round of the USFL draft.

1. Michigan Panthers — Shea Patterson, Michigan

2. Tampa Bay Bandits — Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss

3. Philadelphia Stars — Bryan Scott, Occidental College

4. New Jersey Generals — Ben Holmes, Tarleton State

5. Houston Gamblers — Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

6. Birmingham Stallions — Alex McGough, Florida International

7. Pittsburgh Maulers — Kyle Lauletta, Richmond

8. New Orleans Breakers — Kyle Sloter, Northern Colorado

And here are the second batch of quarterbacks, including Lynch, who were taken in the 12th round to close out the first day of the USFL Draft.

1. New Orleans Breakers — Zach Smith, Tulsa

2. Pittsburgh Maulers — Josh Love, San Jose State

3. Birmingham Stallions — J’Mar Davis-Smith, Louisiana Tech

4. Houston Gamblers — Kenji Bahar, Monmouth

5. New Jersey Generals — De’Andre Johnson, Texas Southern

6. Philadelphia Stars — Case Cookus, Northern Arizona

7. Tampa Bay Bandits — Brady White, Memphis

8. Michigan Panthers — Paxton Lynch, Memphis

Day 2 of the draft will continue today, and the rebooted USFL is scheduled to begin play on April 16 when the Panthers and Birmingham Stallions kick off the season. The entirety of the 2022 USFL season will be played in Birmingham.

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