Defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson became the third former Maryland player taken in the NFL draft when the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the fifth round with the No. 147 overall pick Saturday afternoon.
Jefferson was selected after the Pittsburgh Steelers took Sean Davis in the second round and the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Yannick Ngakoue in the third round. It's the first time since 2009 that Maryland has had at least three former players taken in the draft.
Jefferson enjoyed a breakout 2015 season that featured 6 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss as a defensive tackle. In December, Jefferson announced he was forgoing his final season of eligibility in order to enter the NFL draft.
Entering the draft, analysts pegged Jefferson as a late-round pick, though NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock ranked him as the No. 87 prospect in the field. At 6 feet 4 and 291 pounds, Jefferson has the versatility to play both inside as a defensive tackle or more outside as a 3-4 defensive end. But that also makes him a "tweener" in the eyes of some.
Jefferson's NFL.com draft profile mentions "thin ankles," and Bleacher Report NFL draft writer Matt Miller said that Jefferson's body type — "skinny legs" that allow for "less push in the lower body" — could make him less appealing to some teams. But for Jefferson, more important than where he was drafted is where and how he plays.
"It's all going to be about scheme fit for him," Miller said in a phone interview last week.
Reese's Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL general manager Phil Savage said Jefferson will have to either "major" in one role and carve out a spot with a team that way or rotate through positions to get enough experience to contribute across the board.
"There could be real value in him because he is versatile enough to do a lot of different things along the defensive line," Savage said in a phone interview last week. "The most important thing for him is for the club that drafts him, they have to have a vision of how they plan to utilize him."
Savage said Jefferson was "motivated" at the Senior Bowl, even though a lower back injury caused him to miss the game. And while a deep defensive line class in this draft pushed him into the lower rounds, there's still the potential for him to be able to contribute early in his career.
"Jefferson moves well for his size," CBS Sports NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler wrote in an email last week. "He needs to tweak his pad level and base mechanics, but he can win with quickness off the snap, launching off the line to penetrate the backfield. He has the workable traits to provide quality depth early in his career while he fights for starting reps."