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Maryland WR DJ Moore taken 24th overall in NFL Draft by Carolina Panthers

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The Terps have a first-round draft pick for the first time this decade.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Rutgers Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in nine years, Maryland football has a first-round NFL draft pick.

DJ Moore is a member of the Carolina Panthers, who drafted the wide receiver with the 24th overall selection in Thursday night’s first round.

Moore spent three seasons in College Park, with his numbers improving exponentially from one year to the next. He caught 25 passes as a freshman, 41 as a sophomore and a school-record 80 as a junior. Moore was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year in 2017, as his 1,033 yards led the conference and his eight receiving touchdowns were tied for sixth. He did this with four different starting quarterbacks throwing passes his way.

After the season, Moore entered his name into the NFL Draft in December. His scouting evaluations were varied at the time, but Moore’s draft stock improved all winter. He dazzled at March’s NFL Combine, running a 4.42 40-yard dash, posting a 39.5-inch vertical leap and leading all receivers with an 11-foot broad jump. He’s been widely regarded as one of the best wideouts in the class since then.

Carolina is just a couple years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and went 11-5 last season before losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Moore will be a top target right away for former league MVP Cam Newton, and he’ll join a receiving corps that includes fellow Maryland product Torrey Smith. The Panthers made Moore run his own set of routes at pro day, so their interest was clear for some time. Now he’s off to Charlotte.

Moore won’t be the last Terrapin to be selected this weekend. Cornerback JC Jackson is expected to be an early- to mid-round pick, and a handful of other defensive players have outside shots at hearing their names called before the end of the draft. But this is Moore’s moment, and it couldn’t be more well-earned.