While the current Maryland football team is reveling in its first win over a ranked opponent in seven years, several of the program’s alumni are getting ready to suit up on Sundays. Eleven Terps made NFL rosters this year, and another is currently on a practice squad. Below is a recap of each player, detailing their performance last year and what you can expect from them this season.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
After a strong rookie season, Diggs continued to improve in year two, setting career highs with 84 receptions and 903 yards. He would have been on his way to a 1,000-yard season if he hadn’t played through a groin injury he suffered against the Giants in Week 4.
This year, Diggs is once again projected to start, but will move to the outside because he is the best deep threat on the Vikings.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ngakoue burst onto the scene last year with eight sacks to break the Jaguars rookie record, and was named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie Team. He won one of the starting jobs at defensive end along with free agent acquisition Calais Campbell, and should help bolster a pass rush that could be one of the Jaguars few strengths in 2017.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
With Jordan Reed struggling to stay healthy last year, the 14-year veteran had his best season since 2013, catching 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. Davis will once again be the team’s insurance policy if Reed misses time, which is likely because the fifth-year star has never played a full season.
Torrey Smith, WR; Dexter McDougle, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Smith will look to rebound from the worst season of his career in 2016, when he caught just 20 passes for 267 yards and was released by the 49ers two years into a five-year deal. He signed with the Eagles in the offseason and will start alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Although quarterback Carson Wentz completed mainly short passes last year, the offense is expected to open up in 2017, which suits Smith’s strength as a big-play receiver.
Smith will also be reunited with Dexter McDougle, who was not only his teammate at Maryland but also at Stafford High School in Virginia. McDougle had struggled to stay relevant on the Jets, playing just six games last year, but was traded to the Eagles last month for safety Terrence Brooks. He’s currently listed as the nickel corner, and now has some job security as the Eagles signed him to a one-year extension.
Sean Davis, S; Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Davis had a busy rookie year, originally playing slot cornerback before transitioning to safety, and finished fourth on the team with 70 tackles all while playing through a torn labrum. This year he will be a safety full time, and is the Steelers’ starting strong safety.
Heyward-Bey struggled to see the field last year, missing six games with foot and ankle injuries. This season, the nine-year veteran will try to earn a role for himself in the Steelers’ offense. He still has big-play capability, as he had three touchdowns last year despite touching the ball only seven times.
Nolan Carroll, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Carroll had the second most tackles in a season in his career with 55, but Pro Football Focus graded him as a “poor” cornerback last year. The Eagles decided not to offer him a contract, so Carroll decided to join division rival Dallas, where he will be the starting left cornerback to begin the season.
Quinton Jefferson, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Jefferson was let go by the Seahawks in their final round of cuts, as their defensive line had too much depth and the knee injury that ended his season last year caused a slow return to training camp. However, he was claimed off waivers by the Rams a day later. He will look to provide depth to a defensive line that is currently in flux with Aaron Donald still holding out for a new contract.
Trey Edmunds, RB, New Orleans Saints
Every year there are a few undrafted free agents that make an NFL roster. This year, Edmunds is one of them. Saints head coach Sean Payton said that Edmunds made the roster because of his performance on special teams.
Jon Condo, LS, Oakland Raiders
Condo is back for an 11th season with the Raiders, which means snapping to the most athletic punter in football, Marquette King.
Also joining an NFL roster is defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who will be on the Falcons practice squad. Nick Novak came close to making an NFL roster as well, but the Texans decided to keep rookie kicker Kai’imi Fairbairn and cut Novak instead.
Edmunds was the only member of Maryland’s 2016 team to make a 53-man roster. Will Likely was cut by the Patriots over the weekend, Michael Dunn was placed on the Rams’ practice squad and released earlier this week, Levern Jacobs is on Washington’s injured reserve list and Alvin Hill came up short with the Cleveland Browns.