It’s no surprise that when you’re a regularly strong team, you’re going to have a lot of NFL Draft prospects (a la Alabama). Similarly, a team that hasn’t had a lot of NFL Draft prospects, either this year or the past few years, usually doesn’t win a lot of games (a la Maryland).
Don’t get me wrong, the Maryland Terrapins were remarkably solid under previous coach Ralph Friedgen, but it’s painfully evident how far they’ve fallen under third-year head coach Randy Edsall. Now, Edsall isn’t totally to blame, as injuries and staggering levels of attrition have decimated the Terps’ depth chart.
So do the Terps have any NFL Draft prospects at all? Yes. They have a few seniors that are going to be in contention for late-round selections, but would really be aided by a strong season. Obviously we need to look at who the Terps could be sending to the NFL after this year.
QB C.J. Brown is a guy that wows you with his running skills, but still has a lot of room to grown when it comes to tossing the rock. Plus, his extensive injury history isn’t attractive to really anyone. But there’s no denying what kind of athlete he is, and that alone could give him an opportunity to change positions at the next level (like wide receiver).
If Brown shows he’s made a lot of progress with his throwing mechanics, and can stay healthy and make decisions, he’ll help his stock tremendously.
What will certainly help Brown this year is an electrifying receiving corps. Stefon Diggs has all the makings of a first-rounder, but he won’t be eligible until next years draft. Deon Long, the top JUCO wide receiver who the Terps signed last February, will be eligible if he decides to leave early.
Long is very strong across the middle and has good hands. He certainly wouldn’t be the first elite JUCO who translates one strong year of college into a good draft selection (Cordarrelle Patterson, Cam Newton, etc.).
Sophomore LT Mike Madaras also won’t be eligible for this years draft, even though he’s far and away the most talented prospect on the line. The top eligible player, though, has to be senior RT Nick Klemm.
Klemm has good size (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) and a decent amount of experience, and has certainly overachieved since he stepped foot on campus as a lightly-regarded recruit. However, it’s hard to view him, at this point, as anything more than an undrafted free agent.
Defensively, there’s really only two prospects that stand a chance of getting drafted: CB Dexter McDougle and OLB Marcus Whitfield. And out of those two, really McDougle is the one that could make some waves leading up to the draft.
McDougle has a ton of experience going against some of the best receivers in the ACC, and has had impressive production. Like many of the guys we’ve already talked about, a strong senior season would do wonders for his stock.
The Terps are a team that’s still in the rebuilding process, but there is talent on this team. It’s just unfortunate that the two best prospects on the roster (Madaras and Diggs) have another year to go until eligibility. Still, Long, Klemm, McDougle and possibly even Brown all have a very realistic shot at getting drafted. There are athletes here, and given enough time, they will develop.