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How does Maryland football's talent in 2015 compare to 2014?

Taking a look at how the recruiting rankings stack up for Maryland's projected starters.

Right tackle Derwin Gray is among the blue-chippers projected to break into the starting lineup.
Right tackle Derwin Gray is among the blue-chippers projected to break into the starting lineup.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday and Wednesday, I took an early look at Maryland's projected offensive and defensive depth charts heading into next season. One thing became clear: the Terps lose a lot of starters and contributors from the 2014 squad, but there's a considerable amount of young talent moving up the depth chart.

To recap: Maryland loses six starters on offense and seven on defense. Among the notables: Stefon Diggs, C.J. Brown, Andre Monroe, Deon Long and Cole Farrand. Basically the entire front seven is gone, and a whole lot of new faces are going to see playing time in 2015.

Recruiting rankings are an inexact science, but they're a highly predictive tool for both championship teams and NFL draft selections. There are a number of two- and three-star recruits who end up having better careers than blue-chip guys, but by and large it's a useful device to identify perceived talent.

The following table includes the 247Sports Composite's star ratings first and number ratings (which differentiate within star ratings) in parentheses. The higher-rated player for each position is in bold, with unit averages for offense and defense below.

Position 2014 Rating 2015 Rating Difference
QB CJ Brown 3 (.8525) Caleb Rowe 3 (.8475) -0.005
RB Brandon Ross 2 (N/A) Brandon Ross 2 (N/A) 0
RB Wes Brown 4 (.9374) Wes Brown 4 (.9374) 0
WR Stefon Diggs 5 (.9967) Levern Jacobs 3 (.8089) -0.1878
WR Deon Long 4 (.9166) Taivon Jacobs 3 (.8444) -0.0722
WR Marcus Leak 3 (.8425) Marcus Leak 3 (.8425) 0
TE Derrick Hayward 3 (.8458) Andrew Isaacs 3 (.8621) 0.0163
LT Jake Wheeler 2 (.7889) Michael Dunn N/A (.7000) -0.0889
LG Silvano Altamirano 3 (.8082) Evan Mulrooney 3 (.8252) 0.017
C Sal Conaboy 3 (.8620) Brendan Moore 3 (.8210) -0.041
RG Andrew Zeller 3 (.8257) Andrew Zeller 3 (.8257) 0
RT Michael Dunn N/A (.7000) Derwin Gray 4 (.9250) 0.225
DE Keith Bowers 2 (.7922) Quinton Jefferson 3 (.8479) 0.0557
NT Darius Kilgo 3 (.8389) David Shaw 3 (.7984) -0.0405
DE Andre Monroe 3 (.8377) Roman Braglio 3 (.8485) 0.0108
SAM Matt Robinson 3 (.8188) Cavon Walker 3 (.8209) 0.0021
MIKE Cole Farrand 3 (.8023) Jermaine Carter, Jr. 3 (.8185) 0.0162
MO L.A. Goree 3 (.8556) Abner Logan 4 (.8923) 0.0367
WILL Yannick Ngakoue 4 (.8933) Yannick Ngakoue 4 (.8933) 0
CB Will Likely 3 (.8856) Will Likely 3 (.8856) 0
FS Sean Davis 3 (.8492) A.J. Hendy 4 (.9221) 0.0729
SS Anthony Nixon 3 (.8342) Anthony Nixon 3 (.8342) 0
CB Jeremiah Johnson 3 (.8389) Sean Davis 3 (.8492) 0.0103

2014 offense unit average: .8397
2015 offense unit average: .8283

Difference: -.0114

2014 defense unit average: .8406
2015 defense unit average: .8555

Difference: +.0149

Two changes from the previous depth charts: Sean Davis has been moved to corner (where he played at the end of the year) and Brendan Moore has replaced Moise Larose with some offensive line re-shuffling.

There is the potential for more talent to be added to the lineup along the line, depending on how camp shapes up. If Damian Prince (5, .9858) starts over Moore or Mulrooney, that's a huge boost to the unit's perceived talent level. It also probably means very good things for Maryland's future -- if he's developed to the point that he's beating out those two for a job, it means he's starting to live up to that five-star billing. No matter which of the two he started over, it would be enough to boost the 2015 offense past the perceived talent level of the 2014 offense, carrying the entire unit into the positive by himself.

On defense, a move from defensive end to nose tackle for Kingsley Opara (3, .8417) could be in store. If he beats out David Shaw for the starting job, that would turn Maryland's only downgrading defensive position (recruiting rankings-wise) into a positive. Another (more remote) possibility is moving linebacker Jesse Aniebonam (4, .9404) down to defensive end. If both he and Opara were able to claim starting jobs at those new positions, Maryland's defensive talent level would jump up by about .01, a significant difference for a group of 11 players.