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This USFL Standout Can Make An NFL Entrance

The NFL offseason is getting people salivated and starved for football action. The USFL, this year, has provided an unexpectedly entertaining source of football for them.

In addition to its place as an independent league, though, the USFL gives us an opportunity to see players that are normally on the outside looking into an NFL roster or on the back end of one get significant playing time and, with it, a chance to make their case to the league.

Birmingham Stallions QB Alex McGough is taking that opportunity by storm. Here's a comprehensive look at the youngster and why he belongs in the NFL.

The Journey

McGough spent his college career quietly but surely impressing. In four years at FIU, he broke school records for passing yards and completion percentage - twice - and broke the record for passer rating. He elevated the program to heights they hadn't seen in a long time, leading FIU to their first bowl game since 2011.

After being taken in the seventh round of the NFL draft, he was bounced around in backup/practice squad roles in Seattle, Jacksonville, and Houston, without ever really getting a proper opportunity to showcase himself. Even in the USFL, he was a backup to start, until the 2022 Championship game, where he delivered a title-winning performance in relief of an injured J'Marr Smith.

This year, he has had his spotlight, and taken excellent advantage of it. While leading Birmingham to a USFL-leading 7-2 record, he has put up an impressive stat line with 1822 yards and 18 TD (leads the league) to just four interceptions. In addition, he has had 371 rushing yards for five touchdowns, both of which are USFL top-five marks, among ALL players.

The Tape

Beyond simply the statistics, McGough's tape shows his ability to become a serviceable NFL QB. He has exceptional pocket presence, possessing a loose, relaxed stance that doesn't waver in the face of pressure. His quick release helps avoid sacks and his high-percentage decision making helps avoid turnovers.

He's fairly accurate and can get the ball in tight windows. Particularly impressive is his ability complete throws to receivers in stride - leading to copious yards after the catch. As a runner, not only does he have quick feet, but he's also able to make rapid and deliberate changes in direction. This allows offenses to employ designed runs and read option-type schemes with him, and also allows him to adapt outside of the pocket and make plays - a very important ability in today's evolving NFL.

Arguably his biggest weakness is the fact that he's not comfortable with the deep ball. He completes almost all of his passes within 10-20 air yards, and while he excels there, in today's NFL, it's hard to get by without a deep passing ability. He CAN pass deep, though, but more so with touch passes rather than with zip - and does so quite accurately.

The NFL Comparison

The easiest NFL comparison to make is another younger guy, Mac Jones. Mac has a lot of similar traits: solid pocket presence, excellent accuracy and decision making on short to medium passes.

He has a similar weakness to Jones - he can't complete deep passes consistently with velocity. His mobility exceeds that of Jones and adds new dimensions to his game that Jones doesn't have because of that.

Where he likely falls behind Jones is the ability to distribute the ball among all of his weapons, and the ability to always pick out the highest percentage play - however, he has the tools to hone those skills too.

Like Jones, with the right NFL system and enough talent around him, Alex could make some serious noise.

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