With the NFL draft soon upon us, we here at Testudo Times have ranked every Terrapin to ever be drafted in the first round based on their success professionally. It was a long and arduous task as we had to sit down and do research on every single first round draft pick, all fifteen of them!
15. DE Joe Campbell: 1977 Pick 7 (New Orleans)
Joe Campbell only played five years in the NFL and had 33 kick returns yards on two career returns…as a defensive end oddly enough. Not much else can be said as it appears Campbell’s career was dedicated mostly to special teams. Campbell was inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 1992.
14. HB Ed Vereb: 1956 Pick 12 (Washington)
Ed Vereb played just one season for Washington four years after he was drafted twelfth overall. During the 1960 NFL season Vereb carried the ball 19 times for 38 yards and never crossed the goal line. Vereb, however, was a member of the 1953 consensus National Championship team… so there’s that.
13. QB Bernie Faloney: 1954 Pick 11 (San Francisco)
Bernie Faloney was the eleventh overall pick in the 1954 NFL draft and never went on to play a down in the NFL. However, Faloney did have a very successful professional football career for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League. After spurning the NFL for Canada, Faloney was a five time CFL All-Star and a three time Grey Cup champion. He was inducted in to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
12. QB Jack Scarbath: 1953 Pick 3 (Washington)
Scarbath is the second highest player out of Maryland ever selected in the NFL draft. Hailing from native Baltimore, Scarbath was selected third overall by Washington in 1953. He spent a few seasons in Washington and one in Pittsburgh. His career TD-INT ratio was 18-30 and he only amassed 1,868 career passing yards. That being said, Scarbath remains the only Terrapin quarterback to be drafted in the first round to take a snap in the NFL. For those wondering, Esiason was an early second round draft pick.
11. DE Pete Koch: 1984 Pick 16 (Cincinnati)
Pete Koch had an average NFL career in that he played for five seasons and did not really make much professional impact. His most and only successful season came in 1986 for the Kansas City Chiefs when Koch played in and started all 16 games. That year he sacked the quarterback 5.5 times. Although Pete may not have discovered much success on the gridiron he did find success in Hollywood. Pete Koch became an actor whom has played various minor roles in cinema and television over the past three decades. Unfortunately his role as the ‘fire captain’ in Conspiracy Theory had little influence on his positioning on this list.
10. FB/TE/K Dick Bielski: 1955 Pick 9 (Philadelphia)
Dick Bielski played a variety of positions during his nine year NFL career with the Eagles, Cowboys and Colts (the Baltimore ones). Primarily Bielske contributed as a receiving full back or tight end. Dick finished his career with 1,305 receiving yards and ten touchdowns to compliment his two career rushing touchdowns. Most interestingly though, it appears that Bielski was the Baltimore Colts primary field goal kicker in 1962. Out of twenty five field goal attempts, he was successful on just eleven.
9. FB Ed Modzelewski: 1952 Pick 6 (Pittsburgh)
I am going to call him Ed for simplicity sake. Ed played six years in the NFL, mostly for the Cleveland Browns. As a fullback he tallied 1,292 career rushing yards and eleven touchdowns. He won an NFL championship in Cleveland in 1955 which correlated with his best statistical season in which he carried the ball 185 times for 619 yards and 6 touchdowns. Fun Fact: Ed played collegiality and professionally with his brother Dick Modzelewski.
8. WR Darius Heyward-Bey: 2009 Pick 7 (Oakland)
Heyward-Bey comes in tied for fourth highest player taken out of Maryland all-time in the NFL draft. Unfortunately the Raiders perhaps overvalued Heyward-Bey coming out of college. Heyward-Bey, or "Hey Babeh!" had much promise as a deep threat coming out of Maryland, much like more recent stand-out Torrey Smith. Unlike Smith, his talents never seemed to translate at the professional level. Darius’s best season came in 2011 when he hauled in 64 passes for 975 yards and four scores. That, however, accounts for most of his statistical totals in the NFL thus far. Heyward-Bey in his career has 2,413 receiving yards on 172 catches and 12 touchdowns. To put that in perspective Torrey Smith had 11 touchdowns last season, and 30 overall for his career, which is two years younger than Heyward-Bey’s. Darius can still be found in the NFL exploring the sidelines in Pittsburgh, and at age 28, perhaps there is still time for a comeback.
7. G/LB Bob Pellegrini: 1956 Pick 4 (Philadelphia)
Bob Pellegrini is one of two Terrapins to be selected fourth overall in the NFL draft. In 1955 he finished fifth in the Heisman voting, and was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Professionally however, he found less success. Pellegrini played nine seasons of professional football, primarily as a linebacker for the Eagles and Washington. He played in 107 career games and contributed to the success of his respective squads to the tune of 13 career INTs and a fumble recovery returned for his only career touchdown. In 1996 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
6. G Ron Solt 1984 Pick 19 (Indianapolis)
It is difficult to rank the efficiency of offensive linemen, as they accumulate very little stats and in this case I was not, you know, alive to see him play. That being said, it can be easily concluded that Solt experienced what most would consider to be a successful NFL career. Ron Solt played nine seasons in the National Football League, playing right guard for the newly formed Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles. During that span he played in 116 contests, of which he started 113. Solt earned a spot on the 1987 Pro-Bowl roster, making him the first player on this list to do so.
5. LB Shawne Merriman 2005 Pick 12 (San Diego)
Much like Mentos in a Coke bottle, Shawne Merriman’s career started out spectacularly, but quickly fizzled out. In 2005 Merriman was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. From 2005 to 2007 Merriman found himself playing in three consecutive Pro Bowls. In 2006 he was named First-Team All-Pro and remains one of two Terrapin first round draft picks to earn such an honor. Notably, in 2006 Merriman lead the entire NFL with 17 sacks, and in his first three seasons accumulated 39.5 sacks. A slew of injuries put a hamper on Merriman’s career and after the 2007 season he went on to muster only four more career sacks until he announced his retirement in early 2013.
4. CB Chad Scott DB 1997 Pick 24 (Pittsburgh)
Chad Scott garnered nine years of experience in the NFL, most of that in Pittsburgh playing corner. His tenure already sets him apart from the average career of an NFL corner back, but his statistical performance also speaks for itself. During Scott’s nine NFL campaigns he snagged 21 interceptions, 400 INT return yards and four defensive touchdowns. Current all-pro CB Darrelle Revis has 23 career INTs, 367 return yards and three defensive touchdowns. Just some food for thought. Additionally Scott was an elusive punt returner, amassing 4 career punt return yards on his only career return! Kidding aside, while Chad Scott may not be a household name such as Darrelle Revis, any Terps fan should be proud to recognize him as an alum.
3. TE Vernon Davis: 2006 Pick 6 (San Francisco)
Vernon Davis is undoubtedly the most recognizable Maryland first round draft pick of the 21st century. Vernon Davis has now been in the NFL for nine seasons, all of them with the San Francisco 49ers. Vernon has made two Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl and has twice been in the top ten in receiving touchdowns in a season (Scoring thirteen both times). Vernon Davis has amassed 5,446 receiving yards placing him seventh on the all-time 49ers receiving yardage leaders list, behind names like Terrell Owens, Dwight Clark and some guy named Jerry Rice. While we’re all praying that one day Vernon surpasses Jerry on that list, it is unlikely. Regardless, one would be hard pressed to argue that Davis’s career has been anything but a success.
2. WR Gary Collins 1962 Pick 4 (Cleveland)
The Browns spent the fourth overall pick on Maryland wide receiver Gary Collins in the 1962 NFL draft and they were not disappointed. Collins overall statistical totals include 331 receptions, 5,299 receiving yards and 70 touchdowns. In an era in which the NFL was not quite as pass happy as it is today these numbers are quite impressive. Collins played his entire nine year career in Cleveland and in 1964 helped the Brownies win an NFL championship by setting a title game record recording three touchdown receptions in one game.
1. DT Randy White: 1975 Pick 2 (Cowboys)
Randy White is the highest Maryland Terrapin ever selected in the pro football draft, and for good reason. White played his entire fourteen year NFL career for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the fact that his professional affiliation to the Cowboys may upset some readers, Randy White is the undisputed champion of best University of Maryland first round draft pick of all-time. Legitimately, it’s no contest. Randy White was a nine time Pro-Bowler and was named to the All-Pro First Team seven times. Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, which excludes the first half of Randy’s career, and he still officially has 52 of them. He won a Super Bowl in 1977 and seventeen years later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. White is one of only two Maryland alum to ever be enshrined at Canton, Stan Jones being the other.