NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Maryland Prospects

Can Former Terp Tight End Matt Furstenburg Find a Landing Spot in the NFL?

Can Former Terp Tight End Matt Furstenburg Find a Landing Spot in the NFL?

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Maryland‘s fortunes have been a bit down through the first two years of the Randy Edsall era, but the Terps are still able to churn out some NFL-caliber talent acquired by former head coach Ralph Friedgen. Unfortunately for them, these were some of the team’s biggest contributors and they’ll certainly leave some gaping holes on both sides of the ball. Recruiting is improving for the Terrapins with Mike Locksley back in the fold, but it’s still a gradual process to rebuild the necessary pipelines.

Matt Furstenburg, TE, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)

Furstenburg comes into this draft as a bit of a wildcard, leaving scouts around the league a bit confused. His productivity as a receiver wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive during his four years (60 catches, six scores on his career), but I’d chalk a good deal of that up to the terrible quarterback situation at Maryland these past two seasons. While he has some of the physical tools to succeed (6’4″ and 242 pounds), there’s also concern he’s a bit undersized for the position and that it removes the effectiveness of his best skillset (run-blocking). But with some great receiving skills and a more-than-respectable 40-yard dash time (4.6), it’s doubtful teams will allow him to drop much further than the fifth round.

Joe Vellano, DT, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)

If Vellano fails to be drafted, he won’t be searching long for an employer, that’s for sure. I’d even add that the only reason he’s not higher up on draft boards is his history of various injuries during his collegiate career. Beyond that, it’s tough to just look past a defensive lineman with a quick first step and tireless work ethic who flirted with 100 tackles his junior season (unheard of). Vellano’s played various positions along the line (end, tackle, nose tackle), which certainly gives him a bit of a boost, but his size isn’t necessarily ideal for any of those positions, save maybe the nose tackle spot — and an undersized one at that. At 6’2″ and 306 pounds, he’ll need the right environment in order to thrive, and teams will need to be willing to make a several-year investment.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Maryland Terrapins

Injuries Aside, Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense At Least Had Impressive Seasons

Injuries Aside, At Least Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense Had Impressive Seasons

Team: Maryland Terrapins

W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Postseason: None

Top Offensive Performer: Stefon Diggs, WR

Top Defensive Performer: Joe Vellano, DL

Before the 2012 season even started, the Terrapins appeared to be cursed last year. Incumbent starting quarterback C.J. Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL in practice, and with his loss, so vanished a promising season for Maryland. But surprisingly, that was not the case — at least initially, anyway. Replacement Perry Hills was learning on the fly, but had still led the Terps to a 4-3 record… until he was injured as well. The Angry Maryland QB-Hating God joke/nightmare grew when Hills’s replacements, Caleb Rowe and Caleb Rowe were also injured, leaving the team to lean on linebacker Shawn Petty for the remainder of the year. So before laughing at the Terrapins’ 123rd-ranked offense or 109th scoring offense in the country, consider the situation. On offense, they were virtually set up to fail from day one, with the only saving grace being standout freshman receiver Stefon Diggs. The receiver and kick returner had 1,896 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns, all while routinely being the fastest player on the field. Playing with a linebacker at quarterback, they still nearly beat North Carolina in the final week of the season — the same UNC team that would’ve taken home the ACC’s Coastal division. So sure, you could call it all bad, but there’s also plenty of foundation for the future.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #14, Joe Vellano

Joe Vellano's Senior Year Went About as Well as The Injury-Riddled Terps Could've Hoped

Joe Vellano’s Senior Year Went About as Well as The Injury-Riddled Terps Could’ve Hoped

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 14, Joe Vellano, DL/Maryland(Preseason Rank: 13)

Maryland’s season was an unequivocal disaster (this does not need to be explained). And yet, senior Joe Vellano still managed to make a major impact each and every game, at times, even carrying the defense on his back. Operating in a new 3-4 scheme, Vellano made the most of his new opportunities, racking up 14 tackles for loss (six of which were sacks). Previously, he played primarily from the defensive tackle position, which limited him to more of a run-stopping role at the line. But here, he was really able to show off his vast skill set, regularly applying pressure in both the passing and running game, as evidenced by his TFL numbers. Most impressive of all, however, was that Vellano managed to play this entire season with a collection of lingering injuries. When your team’s bit by one of the worst injury bugs most fans have seen in some time, there are really no other options, and Vellano was more than happy to embrace that role. In terms of professional prospects, he’s seen as a bit slow (5.4 40-yard dash time), some of which could be due to his 6’1″ 300-pound frame. Still, he’s likely to be drafted.

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2012 All-ACC Football Team: Defense

Florida State's Tank Carradine Leads a Parade of Seminoles on the All-ACC Defensive Side

Florida State’s Tank Carradine Leads a Parade of Seminoles on the All-ACC Defensive Side

As most other publications have also done, we’ve put together an All-ACC team here at Atlantic Coast Convos, honoring the best players from the 2012 football season. We’ve also included players from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as that has always been our policy, and once bowl season is over, all ACC football news will have to involve them anyway. In this post, you’ll find both the first- and second-team defense. Picks for the first- and second-team offense were posted earlier today.

See any selections you agree with? Disagree with? Feel free to voice your concerns in the comments below.

2012 Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team: Defense

First Team

DE Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, Florida State

DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT Joe Vellano, Maryland

DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

LB Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech

LB Nick Clancy, Boston College

LB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

CB Ross Cockrell, Duke

CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S Earl Wolff, Florida State

PK Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P Will Monday, Duke

SP Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

Second Team

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ACC Football Preview 2012: Preseason Defensive Unit Rankings

North Carolina Hopes a Transition to the 4-2-5 Defense Helps Kevin Reddick Become a True Star

We’re literally one day (and some hours) away from the start of the 2012 season, so obviously, we’re rolling out tons of arbitrarily ranked lists to peruse before kickoff. The focus of this particular list? Every ACC defense. Along with the ranked list, we’ll provide some background to legitimize said arbitrary ranking. Don’t agree with us? Voice your opinion in the comment section.

Want more lists? Be sure to check out our offensive unit rankings earlier today, and the coaching ranks later on.

ACC Defense Unit Rankings (Preseason)

1. Florida State Seminoles: FSU will possess one of the most frightening pass-rushes in all of college football. And return nine starters from the fourth-best scoring defense in the country last year. And be the guiding force behind a resurgent season back in the BCS spotlight for the Seminoles.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies: Aggressive and ball-hawking, the Hokies’ defense will be leaned on quite a bit this season, and I give them credit as a group capable of carrying that heavy burden. If they continue to force turnovers with pressure as they have in the past, they’ll be one of the country’s most impressive units yet again.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels: The new 4-2-5 scheme should have this group looking like an unconventional version of the two teams ahead of them on this list. Agile and focused on pressure and turnovers, senior leader Kevin Reddick should excel here, as will his defensive cohorts who’ve all waited a long time to be let loose in a set like this.

4. NC State Wolfpack: Some may murmur about linebacker concerns, but the focus for the Wolfpack will be on the talented secondary. David Amerson and Earl Wolff should run things as they have in the past, with Amerson gunning to add to his record-setting total of picks from last year.

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ACC Football Preseason Power Rankings 2012

Kyle Fuller and the Virginia Tech Defense Are a Large Part of the Team’s High Ranking Coming Into 2012

Just days before kickoff, we’ve compiled our final offseason power rankings before the new ACC football season begins. Starting after week one (this weekend), these will go back to their typical, weekly format. Read the full rankings below, and enjoy the season!

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Florida State’s hype has gone through the roof as we’ve gotten closer to the season. On top of the typical talk of an ACC title, notable pundits have also pegged them as a true national title contender (and perhaps, winner, too). In the end, it’ll all come down to EJ Manuel‘s readiness to take them to the next level. It’s obvious the defense is fully capable already, despite the loss of Greg Reid (not as vital as some would have you think).

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Things won’t be easy without game-changing receiver Sammy Watkins during the first two games of the season. But there’s still plenty of firepower in this offense, even in his absence. We know they can score. But unfortunately, we’re still unsure whether or not this defense can stop anyone. Week one versus Auburn will be a tough test early on.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): As always, the Virginia Tech defense (led by Kyle Fuller) is on board. Now, we’ll have to see just how well this revamped Hokies offensive line holds up. If Logan Thomas can get some time to throw — instead of being relegated to scrambling too often — they’ll be just fine.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5): Manageable schedule, veteran group; the whole thing seems to lead to a big year for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The key, as mentioned far too many times before, is Tevin Washington‘s ability to throw the ball. If he’s made strides, and the passing game at least appears to be a threat to the defense, the triple-option becomes that much more dangerous.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Quarterback C.J. Brown Needs to Take Less Hits if Maryland’s Offense Wants to Progress in 2012

Team: Maryland Terrapins

2011 W-L: 2-10 (1-7)

Head Coach: Randy Edsall (2-10; one season)

Returning Starters: 15 (5 Offense, 10 Defense)

After arriving at his dream job coaching the University of Maryland football team last year, Randy Edsall proceeded to rub both media and players the wrong way while turning a 9-4 squad into a 2-10 disaster. The team’s defense allowed over 34 points per game. The team’s offense scored just 23 per game. Only two of the team’s 10 losses occurred by a single-digit margin, they barely defeated a suspension-depleted Miami team on opening night, and only beat FBS team Towson, 28-3. Additionally, they managed to choke away double-digit leads against Clemson and NC State, with the latter putting up 42 in the second half to come back and win. Needless to say, Edsall’s first year on the job was a challenging one. But it appears he’s taken steps to fix it.

First up was the offense, which demanded radical changes after a tumultuous 2011 campaign. So the ineffective Gary Crowton was fired, and in his place, the team returned former recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley, who spent the last three seasons at New Mexico. Now, he’ll have to figure out a way to mold C.J. Brown — who showed some signs of success in 2011 — into a program-defining quarterback. On top of conditioning the junior passer to take less hits, he’ll also have to work to replace several major pieces on offense, lost by the major attrition since Edsall took the helm. Beyond the obvious departure of former starting QB Danny O’Brien, Locksley will have to sort out former star tackle Max Garcia‘s replacement as well. With major question marks on the offensive line, it won’t be easy for Brown to quickly establish himself in the pocket. He’ll be relying on top targets Kevin Dorsey and Stefon Diggs to get open often, as well as the questionable running game to help pick up the slack; all uneasy propositions beyond the senior, Dorsey. Again, Locksley was brought back into the fold for a reason, and he’ll have his work cut out for him.

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