Former Terps catching their way to NFL stardom

By Anirudh Sridhar

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Former Maryland standout Stefon Diggs in action for the Minnesota Vikings (Photo courtesy of Stefon Diggs, via Instagram)

Since the 2006 NFL Draft, the Maryland Terrapins have produced numerous NFL players, especially players with tremendous catching abilities at the wide receiver and tight end positions. The list includes Vernon Davis, Torrey Smith, and most recently, Stefon Diggs.

The trend began in the first round of the 2006 draft when the San Francisco 49ers selected Vernon Davis with the sixth overall pick. Davis was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2013 and was a part of the 49ers’ Super Bowl run in 2012. He was traded at the tail end of the 2015 season to the Denver Broncos and won a ring with the team in Super Bowl 50.

To the joy of Davis and Maryland fans, Davis returned home and is now a part of the Washington Redskins.

When Davis lost in the Super Bowl with the 49ers, a large part of that was Maryland standout wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was one of the top receivers on the Ravens team in 2012. Smith led the team with eight receiving touchdowns that season and was a deep threat for quarterback Joe Flacco. For Maryland fans watching the 2012 Super Bowl, they would’ve had to choose which alum to root for.

In contrast to Davis, Smith left the local fans and now plays for Davis’ old ball club, the 49ers, and is still one of the most dangerous deep-ball threats in the game.

Smith and Davis are NFL veterans now, but the second-year receiver Stefon Diggs is taking the league by storm. Diggs, who is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, was one of the most explosive wide receivers in Maryland football history. Diggs played for the Terps from 2012-2014 and is second on the Maryland all-time receiving yards list with 2,227, edging out Smith by 12 yards.

A fifth-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs has emerged as the best offensive weapon on the team and one of the best wide receivers in the NFC.  According to Bleacher Report, Diggs is on the Randy Moss path.  Through his first 15 games with the Vikings, Diggs has 68 receptions, 1,005 yards and four 100-yard games. That’s four more receptions than Moss had in his first 15 games, and Moss also had four 100-yard games in his first 15 with the team.

To make it more impressive, Diggs has played with three different quarterbacks so far: Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford. Diggs also won the starting job over players with similar traits, such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Laquon Treadwell.

Diggs is the primary offensive weapons on one of NFL’s best teams at the moment, and if the Vikings (5-2) keep winning games, Diggs could be the next Maryland receiver that wins a Super Bowl ring.

But these three offensive studs are not the only Terps making an impact in the league, as the Terps have produced some defensive talent as well.  In the 2015 Draft, the Denver Broncos drafted Darius Kilgo, a nose tackle, and he was a part of the stout Denver defense that won Super Bowl 50.

In the last NFL Draft, Sean Davis, was drafted in the 2nd round by the Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in the third.

To a lot of people’s surprise, but to the Jaguars delight, Ngakoue has shined in his first year in the NFL.  He has four sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception so far this year.  Ngakoue has provided the Jaguars with a pass-rushing threat, and alongside the strong linebacker play in Jacksonville, he could develop into a star defensive end in the league.

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