September 22, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; Maryland Terrapins tight end Matt Furstenburg (89) runs after a catch against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Much like last season, where the Maryland Terrapins had a grand total of zero players selected in the NFL Draft, this year looks pretty slim for the program as well. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of good Terrapins that can have some kind of role in the NFL next season, but it is a down year. Still, there are a few prospects around that might have what it takes to get selected, and I’ll run down them here.
1.) Matt Furstenburg, TE
CBS Sports-376th overall
National Football Post – 82nd overall
Mocking the Draft-not in their top 22 tight end prospects
Sports Illustrated– None
Furstenburg is an interesting case. Before last season, he was on a lot of NFL draft boards as being one of the top Junior tight ends. Unfortunately, a slew of QB injuries for the Terrapins drastically limited his production offensively, as Maryland was forced to play true freshman who couldn’t really throw that well. As a result, Furstenburg only had 16 receptions for 206 yards, which, coupled with his 31 receptions for 361 yards the year before, leads to some underwhelming stat lines.
Even so, Furstenburg’s athleticism is undeniable. His 4.62 40-yard dash and 35.5-inch vertical, coupled with soft hands, means that physically he can probably become a producer in the NFL. He isn’t the tallest (relatively speaking) at 6’3, but Furstenburg is more than likely going to be a mid-round pick for some team. I can say with confidence that, had Furstenburg gotten some more help at the QB position this year, he’d have been a top five tight end. NFL teams will probably take that into account, which suggests that Furstenburg will have no problem at least getting drafted. Projected Round: 4th
2.) Joe Vellano, DT
November 3, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins tackle Joe Vellano (72) Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
CBS Sports – 484 overall, 36th position
National Football Post – 3rd position
Joe Vellano is your classic tweener, and as such he will be limited by his size. In the general populace, 6’2, 290 lbs means you’re a hulk. But as a system dependent defensive tackle in the NFL? It makes you a tweener. Vellano had a darn good season in 2012, with 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and six sacks, but that might not be enough for him to even get drafted (which is a shame). Yes, it was down from his production as a junior, where he was among the rare DTs with 90+ tackles, but that was largely because of the change in defensive scheme.
He was still a menace, but NFL scouts are unconvinced that he is fast or strong enough to become a major contributor in the NFL. That doesn’t mean he won’t get drafted, but it won’t be until a late round at best. I’m of the belief that in a four man front, at nose tackle, Vellano will do very well in the pros. But it’s a matter of him finding a good situation in which he can shine. Given his great work ethic and quickness off the snap, I can see Vellano getting scooped up in a late round on a flyer.
Projected Round: Late Round pick
3.) Demetrius Hartsfield, ILB
Sep 08, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Maryland Terrapins linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield (9) Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
CBS Sports – 505th overall, 22 at position
National Football Post – 11 ILB position
Hartsfield is one of those players that, plain and simple, should probably be a little higher on people’s draft boards. For whatever reason, sometimes Terps get snubbed in the NFL draft, but contribute just fine in the NFL. Erin Henderson is one such player that immediately comes to mind. Such is the case with Demetrius Hartsfield, who at 6-4, 240 with a ferocious style of play simply looks the part of NFL linebacker. Anyone who has watched the Terrapins over the last two seasons knows that Hartsfield seemed as though he was involved (in a positive way) on every play he was out on the field. That’s a credit to his versatility, as he can shine in both the 3-4 and in nickel situations. He’s also pretty darn good at wrapping people up, as evidenced by his 338 career tackles and 27 tackles for loss over his career at Maryland.
So why don’t scouts have him projected as a second or third round pick? Well, some hark on his effort levels, considering him a great athlete who doesn’t always play to his strength. Against a good O-line, he can sometimes be rendered ineffective once people get into his chest a bit. Hartsfield also isn’t considered a very cerebral player, and he watches the ball quite a bit. All criticism which, while I think is harsh, I can understand. With the physical tools Hartsfield has, he probably could have been even better than he already was, and that’s saying a lot.
So where does he end up? He’s still probably going to be drafted on Saturday, but I’m truly not sure where exactly. I do know that he’s going to end up a steal.
Projected Round: 5th
Players that will probably go undrafted:
1.) Kenneth Tate, Safety
Nov 17, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins linebacker Kenny Tate (6) Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Only a few words on Kenny Tate here. Tate is capable of playing multiple positions at the pro level, for better or worse. It’s rather hard to define him at this point in his career, because while he’s a great athlete and a knowledgeable player, I’m not sure what he plays as a pro. Is he a safety, as he played and thrived under Ralph Friedgen? Or is he a linebacker-ish guy, as he was for Randy Edsall? His injuries have also really hurt his draft stock as he fell from a top three round projection to essentially undrafted this season. He wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine this season.
My guess is that if he does get drafted, it will be in the seventh round by the Redskins or something. If he doesn’t, I still fully expect him to get invited to multiple camps and stick with some team. If Randy Edsall hadn’t messed around with his positioning and had he stayed healthy, Tate would be considered a solid safety. Now, he’s just a guy without a position.
2.) A.J. Francis, DT
It was pretty hard for me to leave A.J. Francis off the “probably drafted” list, and I think I’ll probably be wrong in this regard. Francis didn’t have an eye-popping senior year for the Terrapins, (43 tackles, four sacks, nine tackles for loss), but he does a lot of things in a 3-4 set that coaches notice. For a very big man, he’s everywhere on the field. He doesn’t get pushed around easily at all, and is fantastic at stopping the run. Which makes sense, given his 6’5 320 lb frame (literally what you’re looking for in a defensive end in a 3-4).
He did pretty darn well at the East-West Shrine game too, which is bound to help his draft stock. No, he isn’t going to blow up your O-line and destroy the quarterback, and he does take plays off on occasion. But honestly A.J. Francis will be a player in the NFL, even if he doesn’t get drafted.