Chances of undrafted Terps making NFL rosters


The two Terps selected in the 2015 NFL Draft will in all likelihood find their way onto the rosters of their respective teams.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs will unquestionably be on Minnesota’s 53-man roster come September, although he will have an uphill climb trying to work his way up an overcrowded depth chart stacked with talented, albeit unproven, young receivers. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo was the other Terp to be selected in the draft as he went to the Denver Broncos in the sixth round. Kilgo also has NFL talent, though the knock on him is that he plays like a smaller player than what his 6’3’’ 320-pound frame would indicate.

In the wake of last weekend’s NFL Draft, five former Terps who went undrafted by the end of Saturday, signed free agent contracts with NFL teams. It will be intriguing to see if any of these payers can join fellow Diggs and Kilgo in landing on an NFL roster this fall. A couple of these players have a decent shot at squeezing their way onto a roster, or at least to end up on a practice squad and keep their professional football dreams alive. So what are the odds facing former Maryland standouts Deon Long, Cole Farrand, Matt Robinson, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, and Nigel King to make it at the next level? For the purposes of this article and my admittedly immeasurable 1 through 10 rating system,  I’m considering making an NFL roster and being chosen to a practice squad as “making it” for these undrafted free agents.

Deon Long (WR)

Long proved to be a productive player at Maryland during his two seasons with the team, and could have produced bigger numbers if the Terps had somewhat consistent play from the quarterback position the last few seasons (I’m sure Diggs would agree after falling to the fifth round). In two years at Maryland (20 total games), Long notched 83 receptions for 1,064 yards and three touchdowns. He was a solid contributor, but it is fair to say his stats were not fully reflective of his potential.

Within hours after the draft had concluded, the Tennessee Titans reached out to Long, leading to the logical conclusion that Long was probably on some teams’ draft boards. The fact that Long was contacted by the Titans shortly after the draft also leads me to believe they see NFL potential in the receiver and may have a plan for him somewhere within their organization. The Titans are a rebuilding team, and are certainly looking for weapons to surround second overall draft pick Marcus Mariota. Long performed pretty well at the combine, including 40-yard dash times of 4.58 and 4.66 seconds. Working against Long’s chances is the fact that Tennessee spent two of their nine picks on wide receivers, including nabbing lighting-rod receiver Dorial Green-Beckham early in the second round. However, if he gets a legitimate shot to prove his worth, the Titans’ depth at the position is relatively thin and less than intimidating.

Chances of making it: 5/10

Cole Farrand (ILB)

Farrand made a name for himself during Maryland’s inaugural Big Ten season, finishing the year with an impressive 118 total tackles, which was good for fourth best in the conference. He played in all 13 games for the Terps last season, and received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after racking up 19 tackles against Indiana.

The New York Giants reached an agreement with the All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention shortly after the conclusion of the draft. Farrand was not expected to be drafted, but has a decent shot at making the 53-man roster as a special teams player. He’ll need a strong showing for the G-Men this summer, but his reputation as a tackling machine in college will help his chances of making it onto the field next NFL season as a member of special teams, which seems to be the primary reason the Giants were interested.

Chance of making it: 5/10

Matt Robinson, OLB

The safety-turned-linebacker proved a key part of the Terrapin defense when he was able to stay healthy. After seeing significant time at defensive back from 2010 through 2013, Robinson made the switch to linebacker. The unfortunate knock on Robinson was that he was certainly injury prone, including missing five games last season. When he was on the field, however, the Maryland defense was a different unit. Robinson’s most productive season came in 2013, his first season as a linebacker, as he finished fourth on the team with 73 tackles.

The fact that he was a starter for the Terps at both positions shows his versatility. However, I think this will also prove to be another obstacle Robinson will have to overcome. He still has much developing to do as a linebacker, and unfortunately, he simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy long enough to truly grasp the position in terms of performing at the next level. I think he’s got a shot to make the Jags’ practice squad, but there’s a lot standing in his way. His chances do increase a little bit with Jacksonville’s top pick Dante Fowler Jr. having suffered a torn ACL in mini-camp.

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Chances of making it: 3/10

Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (OLB)

A talented player who never quite played up to his potential at Maryland, Cudjoe-Virgil notched just 21 total tackles in 10 games for the Terps last season. He was off to a fairly promising start to begin the 2013 season, racking up 16 tackles through the first three games including 3.5 tackles for loss. But the transfer linebacker essentially vanished the next three games before tearing a pectoral muscle and missing the remainder of the season and the first three contests of 2014. In 10 games last year, he notched just 16 total tackles (2.5 for loss).

Cudjoe-Virgil signed with the Tennessee Titans the day after the conclusion of the draft. He’ll get his shot, but unfortunately I think it is highly unlikely he’ll make the team’s practice squad unless he stays healthy and absolutely shines on the field. He wasn’t exactly able to do either as a Terp.

Chances of making it: 3/10

Nigel King (WR)

After injuries ended the seasons of Diggs and Long in 2013, King became a more integral part of the Terrapins’ offense, and finished the year with 33 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns. King’s talent was noticeable in an overall average offense, and he and Levern Jacobs helped lead the Terps receiving corps for the remaining six games of the season. After he was slated as the Terps’ No. 3 receiver following the 2013 season, King decided to transfer to Kansas. Last season as a Jayhawk, King finished with 537 yards and just one touchdown on 30 catches.

If King has a shot at playing in the NFL next season in some capacity, the Dolphins will have to notice his play-making potential and overlook his overall lack of production at the college level. He ran a 4.54 and 4.56 at the combine, and had one of the more memorable catches of the college football season last year; a tipped-to-himself circus catch down the sideline that went for a 78-yard touchdown against TCU. One great grab isn’t enough of a track record to make King a promising candidate to make the team. The Dolphins grabbed Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker with the 14th overall pick and took Michigan State receiver Tony Lippett in the fifth round, which also works against King’s chances.

Chances of making it: 1/10

In signing an NFL contract after going undrafted, all of these former Terps have an achievement to hang their hat on for the rest of their lives regardless of where their respective football-related paths take them. The list of professional football players who went undrafted and continued on to have successful, productive, and in several instances Hall-of-Fame-worthy NFL careers is enough to fill a book. Each one of these players has a chance to prove themselves as valuable assets to their new NFL franchises regardless of the level of success they achieved in college. Hopefully they all find some level of success next season.

Other notes:

– Defensive lineman Andre Monroe, who finished tied for the all-time lead in career sacks as a Terp, was invited by the Baltimore Ravens to participate in their rookie mini-camp. Monroe is undersized at 5’10’’ 254 pounds, but is an obviously talented player and an exciting story to keep an eye on.

– Center Max Garcia was selected in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos. Garcia played two seasons at Maryland before transferring to Florida. He started all 12 games at left tackle for the Terps in 2011.

– Wideout Adrian Coxson played two seasons as a Terp before transferring to Stony Brook in hopes of finding a larger role in an offense. He signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent.