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Maryland’s Damian Prince might be a better 2018 NFL Draft prospect than we thought

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He’s No. 39 on Bleacher Report’s big board, and the No. 2 guard.

maryland spring practice damian prince Alexander Jonesi

Maryland football didn’t have anyone taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, and while 2018 was looking like a slightly better year in that department, offensive tackle Damian Prince wasn’t someone who figured to factor in there.

But Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Prince as the No. 2 guard in next year’s draft class, and the No. 39 player overall. That’s pretty much out of nowhere.

I didn’t even think of Prince when I quickly thought up Maryland’s 2018 draft prospects earlier this week. That was probably a mistake.

Prince came to Maryland with an exceptional pedigree.

He wasn’t just the best player in Maryland back when he signed in 2014. Prince was also the No. 2 tackle in the country and the No. 27 player at any position in the 2014 class, per the 247Sports Composite.

Looking back on that, his NFL Draft stock doesn’t seem that outrageous. Thing is, Prince hasn’t necessarily jumped out as as a draft prospect during his time at Maryland. That’s not a huge knock on anyone — most college players don’t get drafted — but Prince hasn’t lived up to his billing yet.

Offensive linemen can take a while to develop. Maybe this will be the year Prince breaks out.

There’s a whole lot that goes into evaluating a college offensive lineman’s pro potential. When you’re 6’3 and 315 pounds, that’ll help your cause. He’ll also have Tyler Bowen as his new coach, and that seems promising. Maryland allowed a whole lot of sacks last year, which isn’t going to help any tackle’s draft stock. Those will almost certainly go down, and a better year from Prince can be both the cause of that and the reason he’s headed to the NFL.

I’ll also caution here that offensive lineman can so easily go overlooked when fans and even media are evaluating teams. It’s certainly possible that Miller and others just watched tape on film and saw a lot of things the rest of us aren’t advanced enough to see.

Millen also projects him as a guard — that’s not the position he played in 2016.

This isn’t a mistake. Prince came to Maryland as a tackle, but played there and at guard as a redshirt freshman. His frame could mean Prince kicks inside once get gets to the pros, and could even mean he plays more guard during his redshirt junior year in 2017. With Maryland sporting mostly former blue-chip recruits on the offensive line, maybe the best move ends up involving Prince replacing Mike Minter at left guard.