Ralph and the NFL Draft

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It is impressive any time a school has five players selected in the NFL Draft as Maryland did this weekend, even if it did come from a large class of seniors (plus early entrant Darrius Heyward-Bey).

But a single draft shouldn’t be the arbiter of how effective a school is at churning out talent.

That’s why as funny as it was for Ralph Friedgen to go on an extended spiel Saturday about how local players can thrive at Maryland (I’ll finally post it in its entirety later on, if only so it can be referenced later), his best bet was to point out the Terps have had at least one player selected in every draft since he arrived.

Only four other ACC schools (Florida State, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech) can say that.

First up, a breakdown of each school’s number of drafted players since Friedgen entered the league. His first team was in 2001, so this goes from the 2002 draft onward:

51: Miami
39: Florida State, Virginia Tech
27: Virginia
22: Maryland, N.C. State
21: Clemson, North Carolina
18: Georgia Tech
17: Boston College
14: Wake Forest
1: Duke

There’s no shame in being behind the two Sunshine State powers and Virginia Tech, and Virginia’s offensive linemen/tight ends/linebackers factory is a rather efficient machine. So a tie for fifth in the conference isn’t bad.

But how about first-rounders in that span? Glad you asked.

21: Miami
8: Florida State
6: Boston College
5: Virginia
4: North Carolina, N.C. State
3: Maryland, Virginia Tech
2: Clemson, Wake Forest
1: Georgia Tech

Maryland probably would have had a fourth if Jared Gaither could have found a way to stay eligible. But either way, that’s a mid-pack result in this category.

(By the way, how amazing is it that Boston College has as many first-rounders as Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia Tech combined over the last eight drafts?)

Back to the point: Friedgen should be pleased with his record of churning out potential pros, and Maryland should celebrate the three first-rounders in the last five years after producing the same amount from 1977 to 2004.

But no one should get too carried away; the Terps are just keeping up with the rest of the ACC, which is something they simply didn’t do for a period I like to call “the 1990s.” It’s to be commended, but also sort of anticipated from a program that has raised its own expectations over the last eight years.

- Patrick Stevens

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