September 15, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Connecticut Huskies quarterback Chandler Whitmer (10) is sacked by Maryland Terrapins linebacker Darin Drakeford (52) at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Former Maryland Terrapin linebacker, Darin Drakeford unfortunately did not hear his name called this weekend at the NFL Draft. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t get a shot at making an NFL roster. Darin was quickly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs following the draft weekend.
A three star recruit in high school, who picked Maryland over new ACC additions Pittsburgh and Syracuse along with future Big Ten rival Illinois. Drakeford attended Maryland during an up and down period for the football program. Darin, and his senior class, experienced two 2 win seasons, a head coaching change, stadium renovations, a bowl game, and an injury plagued final season. Far from the ordinary college career, Drakeford, and his fellow seniors stuck with the program and should always be remembered for their loyalty.
As a freshman and sophomore, Darin, saw most of his time in special teams. He did however show the ability to get to the ball carrier. As a sophomore he finished with 36 tackles, the most for a non-starter. His junior campaign started with a bang when he recorded 11 tackles against Miami in the first game under Coach Randy Edsall. Unfortunately, Darin missed three games that season with injury, he did record double figure tackles in three of the last five games of the season. Darin began to get used in a more aggressive role as a senior. At Virginia, Drakeford recorded a season high 2 sacks, and had a sack in five games that season. The 2012 campaign ended early as Drakeford missed that last game with a head injury. Darin did finish the season tied for eighth in the ACC with .55 sacks per game and sixth in the ACC with two forced fumbles.
Kansas City finished last season with the worst record in the NFL. This prompted them into a change of coaching staffs this offseason. Former Philadelphia Eagle coach, Andy Reid, took over and with him came former New York Jets assistant head coach/linebacker coach Bob Sutton, who is now running the defense. Kansas City did feature three Pro Bowl players on the defensive side last season, which could give Darin a lot to learn from as he enters the league.
While it is tough for undrafted players to make a roster, Darin Drakeford finds himself in a good position with the Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid has always been known for having aggressive defensive schemes and getting after opposing quarterbacks. As a senior, Darin thrived in an aggressive role, with his top 10 ACC finish in sacks per game. Coach Sutton, defensive coordinator, spent time in New York with defensive guru Rex Ryan. Drakeford finds himself in a position where he can learn a lot in a short period. Both coaches bring years of experience and a lot of knowledge with them to Kansas City. Drakeford would be wise to soak up as much as he can from coach Sutton and Reid.
Along with a strong coaching staff to learn from, Drakeford, could also be helped by the recent coaching change. With many of the players unfamiliar with the new defense and the coaches, Darin might be able to learn quicker and earn himself a spot in the roster. The organization could also look to get rid of players who do not fit the scheme, which would ease Drakeford’s competition for a roster spot. There won’t be enough turnover to place Darin on the field for the first snap of the regular season, but there could be enough that he finds himself on the 53 man roster.
While Darin Drakeford’s college career did not end the way he might have envisioned, him and his senior class were still important parts of the Maryland football program. With so many players leaving the program when Coach Edsall took over, not many players in the class of 2013 were left. The few that remained and showed their loyalty to Maryland helped create what will hopefully be a winning program soon. I wish the best of luck to Darin Drakeford and the rest of his class, I hope to see them playing on Sundays this fall!