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After anchoring Maryland’s offensive line, Derwin Gray awaits his NFL Draft fate

The Terps’ left tackle could be a late-round pick, but where he fits on an NFL line is up for debate.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Derwin Gray was a leader on and off the field for Maryland football in his five years with the program, becoming a full-time starter for the past two seasons. He anchored the offensive line at left tackle, protecting the blind side of the ever-rotating carousel of Terrapins quarterbacks.

With exactly one week left until the start of the NFL Draft, let’s take a look at Gray’s professional prospects. We’ll be profiling several of Maryland’s potential draftees in the coming days.

The numbers

Height: 6’4
Weight: 320

40-yard dash: 5.26
225-pound bench reps: 26
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: 90 inches

What an NFL team is getting

Gray is a big body that has the ability to bully smaller defenders, though those same defensive lineman can beat Gray with speed moves. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired, but his raw strength could cover up some of his technical deficiencies.

Pass-blocking is his specialty, but as Lance Zierlien of points out, one of Gray’s biggest weaknesses is his inconsistency in run blocking. With the success of Maryland’s ground attack over the past couple years, that may surprise some. He also has difficulties in recognizing twists and zone blitzes, which could be exposed by elite NFL pass rushers.

Perhaps more at offensive line than other positions, measurables help tell the story of a prospect. In comparison with other NFL tackles, Gray is above average in terms of weight, but he’s undersized in many other categories. At 6’4, his height places in just the 15th percentile of all tackles in the draft, and his 9 5/8 hand size is only slightly better (17th).

Derwin Gray’s Measurables (OT)

As such, Gray’s future in the NFL could be on the interior offensive line. His hand size is still an issue, but his height immediately becomes a strength and his weight would have even more of an positive impact. His wingspan and arm length are solid for a tackle, but they are bordering on elite for an interior offensive lineman.

Derwin Gray Measurables (OG)
Derwin Gray Measurables (IOL)

For someone who has played tackle their entire collegiate career, an adjustment to the inside could be difficult. But it’s been done by a number of NFL players recently, including All-Pro guards Zack Martin and Joel Bitonio. That’s not to say it is easy, but there is definitely precedent.

Gray started 22 of 24 games over the past two seasons, missing the first two games in 2018 due to offseason knee surgery. That injury is in the rear-view mirror, and he played without limitation once he joined the team in Week 3.

Draft projections

According to Gray’s NFL Draft Profile, he projects to be a late-round pick on Day 3 of the draft, most likely in the sixth or seventh round. His 5.32 prospect grade would project him as a backup as a professional, but Gray has a lot of volatility due to the uncertainty of his position going forward. There’s a very real possibility that some teams see him as a guard while others see him as a tackle, and that leaves his draft prospects up in the air.