The Maryland football team should have three players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.
After Sean Davis, Quinton Jefferson, and Yannick Ngakoue are off the board, there are several Terrapins that will likely have to latch onto a team as an undrafted free agent. Among those are Brad Craddock, A.J. Hendy, Anthony Nixon, and Andrew Zeller.
All four players have had productive careers during their time in College Park. Some have certainly been a bit more decorated than others.
Hendy came to Maryland with the most upside as the defensive back was rated as the No. 32 cornerback in the country, according to Rivals. The Bowie (Md.) native ended up having an up-and-down career at the collegiate level.
He started the last three games of his freshman campaign and recorded 30 tackles and an interception. In 2012 as a sophomore, Hendy missed the first four games due to an ankle injury and played primarily on special teams.
During his final two season in College Park, Hendy recorded 108 tackles (68 solo), six defended passes, and three fumble recoveries. In 2015, Hendy had 76 tackles as a senior.
Hendy could receive an invite to training camp with the hopes of landing on a practice squad. However, it’ll definitely be an uphill battle for the former Bowie High School star.
Another member of the Maryland secondary is looking to continue his football career, but has a tough road ahead of him like Hendy. Nixon was a very productive safety during his four years in College Park. Despite Davis moving to cornerback in 2014, Nixon remained a constant in the defensive backfield.
His best season came this past year as a senior when he recorded 82 tackles (55 solo), four defended passes, and three interceptions. His 82 tackles were third on the team behind linebacker Jermaine Carter and Davis. Nixon also registered at least three tackles in all 12 games.
His best game came against Michigan State when he intercepted two passes and tallied seven tackles.
While no major draft website projects Nixon to be selected, he still has a chance to catch as an undrafted free agent. He never turned into a star during his time at Maryland, but he was very durable and wasn’t a liability in pass coverage.
Another ex-Terp that has potential at the next level is Zeller. He may not be the most flashy player, but he provided tremendous stability during his time at Maryland.
While he did only start six games over his first two seasons, Zeller did start the final 25 games of his collegiate career. As a senior, Zeller helped pave the way for running back Brandon Ross, who led the Big Ten with 6.4 yards-per-carry.
He was also an All Big Ten Honorable Mention selection in 2015.
Much like Hendy and Nixon, Zeller isn’t slated to be drafted during the 2016 NFL Draft. However, NFL teams are always looking for experienced offensive linemen and Zeller is a phenomenal right guard.
According to NFLDraftScout, Zeller is ranked No. 47 among offensive guards. Even if he isn’t drafted, Zeller should be able to latch on with a team after the draft.
While Hendy, Nixon, and Zeller are all very talented prospects, Craddock is the most likely to make an impact at the NFL level.
Craddock had one of the more interesting careers that has been seen at Maryland in quite some time. Before coming to College Park, Craddock was a four-sport star at Tabor Christian College in Australia. He played Australian rules football, soccer, tennis, and ran track. He was also tabbed as one of the top kicking prospects coming out of Australia back in 2012. Craddock also drew interest from Boston College and Texas Tech before ultimately ending up at Maryland.
He was Maryland’s starting placekicker for the first nine games as a true freshman during the 2012 season. Craddock was thrust into a starting role due to the transfer of Nick Ferrara to Stony Brook. During his freshman campaign, Craddock connected on 10-of-16 field goal attempts, including conversions from 49 and 52 yards against Wake Forest. He was the first Terp to make 50-plus yard field goal since Travis Baltz in 2010.
Over the next two seasons, Craddock really perfected his craft and was one of the better kickers in the ACC and beyond. In 2013, the Australian kicker made 20 of his 22 attempts, including going 4-of-5 from the 40-49 yard range. In 2014, Craddock had a season for the ages in which he made 18-of-19 attempts and won the Lou Groza Award. His only miss came in the regular season finale against Rutgers.
In 2015, Maryland’s inept offense combined with a hand injury limited Craddock’s opportunities as a senior. He only made eight of his 10 attempts with his only misses coming against Penn State and Richmond. Craddock was forced to miss the final three games due to a hand injury that he suffered against Wisconsin on Nov. 7.
Craddock’s senior campaign definitely hurt his draft stock. If he had a bigger sample size as a senior, he likely would’ve been the top kicker in the 2016 class. According to Pro Football Focus, Craddock’s biggest strengths are his accuracy from the 40-49 yard range and his high field goal percentage. It doesn’t look likely for Craddock to be selected as a late round pick as kickers aren’t usually a top priority in the draft.
Regardless, it’s likely that Craddock will catch on somewhere this summer with an invitation to training camp and catch to crack an NFL roster. Out of all the likely undrafted free agents, Craddock is the most likely to make the biggest impact and challenge for an NFL roster spot.