By Juan Herrera
In Maryland’s inaugural season in the Big Ten Conference, several players have stood out from the rest of the pack with their increased productivity and talent. Players like Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Darius Kilgo, Andre Monroe and Spencer Meyers have made their names known across the nation, looking to bring their talents to the NFL.
With the 2015 NFL Draft only a few weeks away, several players from Maryland have really done well to increase their draft stock with the hard work and productivity they’ve been having on the field.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, a former five-star recruit from Gaithersburg, Maryland, has had a huge impact on the team since joining Maryland back in 2012. As a freshman, Diggs recorded 1,896 all-purpose yards, which is the second-highest season total in Maryland history. He also had six touchdowns his freshman year. The next year, Diggs went on to produce 587 receiving yards and three touchdowns before having his season ended early by a broken leg that forced him to miss the final six games of the season. In his 2014 campaign with Maryland Diggs returned from injury as a top player for the Terrapins, scoring 5 touchdowns before sustaining a kidney injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Diggs is a very quick and explosive player with the ball in his hands. While he is incredibly athletic, Diggs does not have the size and strength to be a physical route runner. Diggs’ history with injuries is also a factor many teams will consider. Despite the injuries he’s had, Diggs has shown that he can be a consistent threat as a slot receiver and a successful kick returner. Diggs is projected as a mid-round pick, going either in the 3rd or 4th round, according to NFL.com.
Deon Long, a former wide receiver for Terrapins hasn’t been as productive as Diggs, but has consistently shown that he can be a weapon on offense. Long recorded 1,064 yards and three touchdowns in his last two seasons with Maryland. Like Diggs, Long had his junior year cut short with a broken right tibia and fibula. What Long lacks in explosiveness he makes up in experience. Having spent time at West Virginia, New Mexico and Iowa Western, Diggs may be the most developed receiver in the Maryland draft class. Scouts have pointed out that Long lacks size and speed, but he makes up for it with his catching ability and acceleration. Mel Kiper Jr. said that he believes Long is a very underrated prospect who could go in the later rounds, possibly free agency.
Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo has been the anchor for the Maryland defense and has started 23 games for the Terrapins. Kilgo has been increasingly productive with the team with over 75 tackles and 5.5 sacks with Maryland, playing nose tackle for most of his. Kilgo has a very large frame at 319 lbs., but moves very well for his size. Kilgo was able to recover three fumbles in 2014 and even managed to block a kick. However, he lacks the strength needed to play nose tackle in the league and struggles to hold up against double teams. These factors could potentially hinder his chances at being drafted. Kilgo’s will either go in the late rounds or go undrafted as a free agent.
Defensive lineman Andre Monroe led the Terrapin defense with 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last season. At 5-foot-11, Monroe is undersized, but he has continually shown to be an incredibly productive player on defense. With 25 career sacks, Monroe is Maryland’s all-time leader in sacks, an impressive stat that is overlooked because of Monroe’s size. Despite his small stature, Monroe plays with intensity, finding ways to continually penetrate the opponent’s offensive line. Many teams may overlook Monroe because he isn’t built like an NFL defensive lineman, but his productivity may find him a home in the league. Monroe is projected as a possible late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
There are few others who have been able to do what Spencer Myers has done. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman is also an All-American wrestler for Maryland. For most college athletes one sport would be more than enough. However, Myers isn’t like most athletes. In his first season with Maryland football as a fifth year senior, Myers played 13 games, recording 18 tackles and a half-sack. As a wrestler last season, Myers was able to make the quarterfinals in the NCAA championships in St. Louis, where he finished sixth. With only a single season of college football under his belt, Myers will be looking to attract NFL scouts with his great footwork, strength and hand movement that were developed while wrestling. Myers is projected to go as an undrafted free agent.
Other players on the team that could potentially find a home in the NFL as undrafted free agents include
outside linebacker Matt Robinson, linebackers Cole Farrand and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil to name a few. Robinson, who started out as a safety, transitioned to play the linebacker position last season and finished with 73 tackles. Despite his productivity, Robinson has had issues with staying healthy and lacks strength. Farrand, another Terrapin linebacker, has shown he can be intense at getting to the ball. Farrand is a tough tackler who can get it done on defense, but he is too slow to track runners on the outside and struggles with blocking sometimes. Cudjoe-Virgil is a very smart linebacker who can run well to the ball. He knows his position and plays it well. However, he doesn’t stand out physically and has been slowed down by injuries. With the number of players declaring for the NFL, it is clear that Terrapins are poised to have a great draft this year.