It’s been nine years since Maryland football last had a former player drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Oakland Raiders drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey seventh overall in 2009. He went on to sign a one-year deal in 2013 with the Colts after the Raiders released him and is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Come Thursday night, Heyward-Bey likely won’t be the last first-round pick out of Maryland anymore. DJ Moore, another Terps receiver, is a projected first-round pick and is the No. 1 receiver on Mike Mayock’s draft board. He probably won’t go as high as Heyward-Bey did, but he’s almost definitely going in the first round.
Moore has been Maryland’s most consistent receiver since he cracked the starting lineup three games into his freshman season. By the time he finished his Terp career, he owned the single-season reception record with 80 catches in the 2017 season, he was fourth in program history in touchdown receptions, fifth in total receptions and sixth in total receiving yards.
Weight: 210 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds
225-pound bench reps: 15
Vertical jump: 39.5 inches
Broad jump: 11 feet
What an NFL team is getting
The team that ends up selecting Moore will first have to decide if it’s going to stick him in the slot or allow him to work outside, even though he’s slightly smaller than what NFL teams look for in an outside receiver. His size clearly wasn’t a disadvantage at Maryland, though, as he routinely made plays as the Terps’ outside receiver.
Bort finds Moore across the middle. FEED HIM pic.twitter.com/mHCVStPPIe— Lamar Johnson (@im_lamar) October 28, 2017
While he’s not as tall as a prototypical boundary receiver, he was always a threat to stretch the field, which gave him the room to make plays underneath if the defense tried to give him some cushion. He was frequently a target on quick screens and deep balls, but also made a killing over the shallow middle.
Kasim Hill went 6/6 on the opening drive. 7-0 Maryland. pic.twitter.com/lq4HPdZLvF— Jared Goldstein (@_jgoldy17) September 9, 2017
Moore consistently exhibited quickness in small spaces and breakaway speed in the open field. He never really looked like he was moving that fast, but he glided to a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and was rarely caught from behind in college. When he was able to put all those things together, the results were special.
In his junior season, the Terps found some extra creative ways to use Moore, including on jet sweeps. It was one running play against Towson that sent Moore bursting onto the national scene, and his ability to carry the ball will make him more attractive to NFL teams come draft time.
It’s hard to find negatives in Moore’s plays, mostly because we only clip highlights, but if there was one thing to nitpick, it’s that his route-running could be quicker and more refined. He admitted as much at pro day in March and said it was something he had been working on between the season and then.
Most draft analysts project Moore as a first-rounder, but every now and then a pundit sees him going in the second round. Our roundup from last week found five mock drafts with him in the first round. This week, he’s been left out of some NFL Network and CBS Sports analysts’ first-round mocks, but still shows up in the vast majority of them.
Moore will likely be a first-round pick, but even if he does happen to slip to the second, he’ll still be slotted to be a contributor to his new team. Once he’s in an NFL uniform and on the field in a real game, he has the traits to become a solid NFL receiver sooner rather than later.