Yesterday, ESPN's Todd McShay went ahead and ranked the ACC's potential NFL draft picks, team by team, and gave a very brief, one-sentence, NFL-centric scouting report. Maryland's three picks shouldn't surprise you: Da'Rel Scott, Alex Wujciak, and Travis Baltz. When it comes to Maryland's seniors, those are pretty easily the most NFL-friendly.
However, it also seems somewhat surprisingly limiting, considering there was no cap on the number of players from each team, nor did it seem that there was a requirement to be a senior. And Maryland, believe it or not, has some NFL-quality talent on its team. Over the past five years, Maryland's averaged 2.8 draft choices per year - roughly three per draft. Combine that with the about three each season that get a serious look in training camp - some, like Stephon Heyer, stick - and history would say that about five or six Terps will be introduced to the pros next year. Actually, Maryland might have the talent to fulfill that.
In fact, let's look at some of that talent. Below are the current Terps that have draft hopes and what needs to happen for them to be realized.
*Note 1: I'm not pretending to be McShay. I'm certainly not as young and attractive and I'm not as confrontational with the people that made my profession possible - granted, ESPN told him to do it, but Kiper legit doesn't like him. I'm also not as knowledgeable about the draft and the NFL. Then again, he doesn't blog here, so...I'll call it even.
*Note 2: Obviously, there's a long time between now and next April, for the 2011 draft. Lots can change. Just names to watch for, targets to aim for, and more of the like.
Da'Rel Scott, RB: When McShay ranked Scott #1, he knew what he was doing. Scott's very fast even by NFL standards and is the most accomplished back Maryland's had since LaMont Jordan. He'll fit in with the workout warrior Terp mold of late, and could run as fast as a 4.3 40 yard dash. If he puts together a decent year this season - and, if history is any indication and the line can keep up, it'll be pretty awesome - he's got a pretty good shot at being drafted in the top 3 or 4 rounds.
Alex Wujciak, LB: Wujciak received some flack earlier in his career from fans because he wasn't seen as very athletic. In the college game, that didn't seem to matter; he's a tackle king. But in the pros, athleticism is a must, and his lack of cover skills and speed in pursuit would be exposed fast. If he can prove that he's fully healthy, faster than before, and has another great year (no reason to assume he won't), he'll get a mid-to-late round draft pick or sign on as one of the top UDFAs. Remember: not even Erin Henderson got drafted. If Wujciak does, it'll be due to increased athleticism and the strength of his fundamentals.
Adrian Moten, OLB: In a world where Dave Philistin doesn't get a legitimate NFL chance, you might have trouble believing that his slightly less-successful successor, Moten, will. But Adrian has some things that Dave never did. For one, he's more athletic and is more of a threat when rushing the passer. For another, he's a second-year captain and clubhouse leader. His draft bid will be made on the strength of those attributes; in other words, if he can get in the backfield and disrupt play, he has a good chance at being a late-round draft pick.
Travis Batlz, P: Draft picks on punters are rarely used. It's even less usual when that punter has an injury history. Unless Baltz puts together a year that is tops-in-the-nation good, he'll be stuck battling it out in camp somewhere as an UDFA. That said, he comes from Punter U and has been very good since his freshman season; he has the pedigree to catch on somewhere.
Antwine Perez, S: Perez hasn't done much of NFL note in his time at Maryland since transferring from USC. But if Nolan Carroll, a starter for half a year, can get drafted in the fifth round despite recovering from a season-ending injury, than Perez can get drafted if he puts together a decent year, too. He's a former five-star talent, and while those gifts might not always be put to good use, they don't just go away. He needs to grab a couple of interceptions and prove that he's not a glorified linebacker - that is, is good in deep coverage - and teams will find a place for him, either in a late round or as an UDFA. Anything less, and he's looking elsewhere.
Adrian Cannon, WR: Cannon will probably be outshined by Torrey Smith this year, and that may help or hurt his NFL chances. The bad news: he'll get few touches and looks with Smith being the more dominant player. The good: when teams look at Smith on film, they might see Cannon, too. He's got an NFL physique - 6-2, 210 - and is surprisingly elusive after the catch. In fact, if you watched Cannon and Smith side-by-side go through drills, you might think that Cannon's the NFL prospect, not Smith. But that's not been the case in games, where Cannon's been outshined and generally underproduced. He'll probably get a camp tryout somewhere, but more might be pushing it.
Torrey Smith, WR: Yeah, yeah, I know: he's only a junior (which is why he's at the bottom of the list) and is, so far, pretty unknown on the scene. But he's more NFL-ready than Darrius Heyward-Bey even if he won't come close to being picked as high, can contribute on special teams, and, most importantly, has reason to leave. He's already expressed a willingness, if not desire, to consider the draft, and not long ago on his Twitter he, without going into detail, mentioned that he loved UMD but would leave if he got the shot.
Besides, assuming he's healthy and has the year everyone's expecting him to have, what left will he have to prove? He'll be the NCAA all-time leader in kickoff yardage, Maryland's all-time leader in all-purpose yards, and have his degree. With the high probability that he'd have to adapt to a new coaching style and a new offense in his final year, it might just make more sense for him to go pro.
If he does, it'll be tough to gauge where he'll fall. DHB was way overrated ,and that might cause some to stay away from Maryland WRs. Plus, he doesn't have Hey-Bey's athleticism. But he's accounted for way more production and is far better at the fundamentals than Heyward-Bey was. Throw in his elusiveness, and you have an NFL package.
How good of one? Well, it'll depend on what he does in the receiving game this year. If he can make a few spectacular catches and be up in the ACC rankings, he has upper-mid round potential. Otherwise, he could end up in the later rounds.