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Players with Maryland ties to watch for in the 2019 NFL draft

With no second-round pick, the Ravens might not be too active over the first two days of the NFL draft.

But it could get very busy very early for the draft’s Maryland contingent. As many as three as players with ties to the state, including a Terps star and a Baltimore native, could be taken in the first round Thursday night.

From a former Cecil County-based quarterback to a late-developing Morgan State offensive lineman to a handful of Maryland standouts, here’s whom to look out for this week.

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.

The Bullis graduate and former Maryland commit has been linked to the the New York Giants at No. 6 overall and won’t get past the Washington Redskins at No. 15. Thanks to Kyler Murray, he’s no longer likely to be the first quarterback taken, but some team will jump at the chance to take the Big Ten’s single-season record-holder for passing yards and passing touchdowns. A natural thrower, especially on downfield throws, Haskins is inexperienced for a first-round pick and a below-average athlete.

Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler

The Baltimore native has become a polarizing prospect after a standout performance at the NFL scouting combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds at 6 feet 5, 227 pounds. An overlooked high school recruit in Texas, Butler blossomed into a 1,300-yard receiver by his third year in Ames, regularly winning jump balls and manhandling defenders after the catch. But despite his big hands, he had the worst drop rate of any receiver in this draft class, according to Sports Info Solutions. Scouts say he also needs to show improvement against press coverage.

Maryland S Darnell Savage Jr.

NFL Network draft analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah said during a conference call Thursday that “there's no player that's got more steam and momentum right now in this draft” than Savage. The three-year Terps starter reportedly has visited with more than a dozen teams during the predraft process and could be a first-round pick, maybe as the first safety off the board. His range (seven interceptions over the past two seasons) and explosiveness in space (4.36-second 40) have more than made up for his less-than-ideal size.

West Virginia WR David Sills V

A quarterback at Elkton's Eastern Christian Academy who later converted to wide receiver in Morgantown, Sills developed into one of Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier's favorite targets, amassing nearly 2,000 receiving yards in 2017 and 2018. The 6-3, 217-pound Sills doesn't have blazing speed (4.57-second 40) or great strength (14 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press), but his ability to find pockets of space should make him an early Day 3 pick. He'll need to prove he can handle more physical cornerbacks and show better consistency with his hands.

Maryland LB Tre Watson

After leading the Big Ten in tackles, earning first-team all-conference honors and making a few All-America teams, Watson was snubbed by combine and Senior Bowl officials. He doesn’t project as a playmaking, sideline-to-sideline linebacker at the next level, but his leadership and football IQ should be assets for some NFL defense. He also knows not to take anything too seriously. He joked on the NFL Network that he hopes watching “Avengers: Endgame” next weekend will be a “springboard” to hearing his name called.

Maryland DL Byron Cowart

The former No. 1 recruit, who started his career with a few disappointing years at Auburn before transferring to Maryland, will probably be asked to move inside at the next level. At 6-3, 298 pounds, he already has the size to handle interior linemen — his NFL.com comparison is to the Ravens' Willie Henry — but scouts say Cowart must improve his consistency and his quickness off the snap. Some team will likely take a chance on the All-Big Ten honorable mention in the later rounds of the draft.

Maryland OL Derwin Gray

A two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention for the Terps, Gray should draw looks on Day 3. At 6-4, the Washington native doesn’t have the prototypical length for a left tackle, and he’ll probably have to move to the right side to have a chance. But scouts say his heavy hands and brute strength, combined with his reach and quickness in pass protection, give him a chance to develop into a starter. He needs to improve as a run blocker, however, especially when asked to climb to the second level.

Morgan State OL Joshua Miles

The Baltimore native and Western Tech graduate was just a third-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection last season but still received an invitation to the Shrine Bowl and scouting combine. He impressed enough that he’ll likely be taken on Day 3 as a developmental pick. He has big arms and hands, a 6-5, 314-pound frame that scouts say can handle additional weight, and good quickness for a potential swing tackle. Fundamentally, he still has a lot to learn, as the 2017 season he lost to academic ineligibility might have stunted his development.

Maryland OL Damian Prince

The Washington native and former five-star recruit started 38 games at right tackle for the Terps but could be better served as a guard in the NFL. He has the feet, size and body control to compete at the next level, but scouts say his play strength and hand placement need work. Despite being good enough to get a combine invitation, he’s not a sure thing to get drafted.

Maryland RB Ty Johnson

The Cumberland native and Fort Hill graduate could be a late-round pick or a priority undrafted free agent for the one reason he was so effective at Maryland: his elite speed. His 40-yard-dash time at the Terps' Pro Day came in at under 4.4 seconds unofficially, with some scouts clocking him at under 4.3. A calf injury and the emergence of star Anthony McFarland limited his touches as a senior in 2018, but he still averaged 7.7 yards per carry. Johnson will need to develop into more of a third-down back to find an NFL home, but his special teams production will help his case.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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