During a busy first round of the NFL draft last year, the Ravens could have taken the local player who ended up as perhaps the league’s top rookie wide receiver. Instead, they passed on Maryland star DJ Moore to trade down — twice.
This April, with the No. 22 pick, they will likely have no such opportunity. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., a New Jersey native who moved to Montgomery County in ninth grade, could be a top-five pick, far out of the Ravens’ reach. (Plus, the team already has Lamar Jackson, the quarterback it took after that night of wheeling and dealing a year ago.)
But there are other locals worth monitoring during this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, from an imposing wide receiver who spent his childhood in Baltimore to a Delaware native who starred for the Terps on defense.
Maryland S Darnell Savage
Projection: Rounds 3-5
Skinny: The Newark, Del., native started every game as a sophomore, junior and senior for the Terps, earning All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention in 2017 and second-team all-conference honors last year. He left College Park with eight interceptions, including seven in the past two seasons. Savage showed his instincts in a loss to Temple last season, undercutting a slot receiver as he made his break, then taking the pass back for an easy pick-six. At 5-feet-11, 200 pounds, he has a frame similar to that of Ravens linebacker-defensive back Anthony Levine Sr., and could project as a box safety at the next level. Analysts praise Savage, who played in the Senior Bowl, for his physicality and instincts but note he can be overaggressive at times.
Maryland DL Byron Cowart
Projection: Round 6 to undrafted free agent
Skinny: The former No. 1 recruit is on the verge of the professional ranks, just as everyone predicted. His route there: far more unexpected. After a standout high school career in Florida, Cowart was the top prospect in the Class of 2015, according to ESPN and Rivals. But he struggled to break out early at Auburn, and left three games into his junior season to enroll in a junior college. He got a fresh start at Maryland, where he reunited with then-Terps coach DJ Durkin, who had recruited Cowart while serving as Florida’s defensive coordinator. Cowart flashed his talent throughout his lone season at Maryland, finishing with 38 tackles, including five for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl, and his size (6-4, 293) and pedigree should attract interest.
Maryland OL Derwin Gray
Projection: Round 6 to UDFA
Skinny: As a junior, the Terps’ left tackle earned All-Big Ten honorable mention and was rated as one of the Big Ten’s best pass blockers, seemingly realizing his promise as a former top-200 recruit. But he struggled to take his game to another level last season, while injuries kept him from starting in two early games. Maryland again had a productive running game but struggled at times to protect the pocket. The 6-5, 330-pound Gray, who received all-league honorable mention as a senior but was not invited to any all-star games, has said he has no preference about where he plays at the next level. With his thick frame, he could be better served as a guard.
Skinny: The Western Tech product could be one of the Cinderella stories of the combine. Miles started in seven games as a sophomore, all 11 games as a junior but none in what should’ve been his senior season. Academically ineligible in 2017, he spent the year improving his grades and honing his craft on the scout team. Last season, as a team captain, he was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week three times and allowed just one sack. He earned third-team all-conference honors and Morgan State’s first-ever invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, where his 6-6, 310-pound frame stood out. With another solid showing in Indianapolis, Miles could be the first Bears player drafted since tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, in 2003.
Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler
Projection: Rounds 2-3
Skinny: After his mother died of cancer in 2012, Butler moved from Baltimore at age 16 to live with his aunt and uncle in Houston. As a lightly regarded recruit, he redshirted his first year with the Cyclones. But he made strides year after year, culminating with second-team All-Big 12 Conference honors in 2018. Over the past three seasons, he improved his total receptions (nine to 41 to 60), receiving yardage (134 to 697 to 1,318), yards per catch (14.9 to 17.0 to 22.0) and touchdowns (two to seven to nine). At 6-6, 225 pounds, Butler is a red-zone weapon with an impressive catch radius. If he runs well at the combine and shows his hands have improved, he could be a potential late-first-round selection.
Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Projection: Top-10 pick
Skinny: The former Bullis School star and Maryland commit could be the first quarterback off the board after a historic season for the Buckeyes. In his first year as a starter, Haskins set seven Big Ten records, including single-season passing yardage (4,831), touchdown passes (50) and total offensive yards (4,939). The Big Ten Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist capped his career with Most Valuable Player honors in the Rose Bowl, and announced less than a week later that he was forgoing his final two years of eligibility to turn pro. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Haskins is not yet a great downfield passer, nor is he as mobile as typical Ohio State quarterbacks, but he has shown impressive accuracy and awareness on short and intermediate routes.
Skinny: The Wilmington, Del., native took an unusual path to stardom for the Mountaineers. As a 13-year-old, he was offered a scholarship by then-Southern California coach Lane Kiffin. After starting as an eighth- and ninth-grader at Red Lion Christian Academy (Del.), Sills transferred to Eastern Christian Academy, a newly formed online school in Elkton with a football training program. After failing to win the starting-quarterback job at West Virginia, Sills saw snaps at wide receiver as a true freshman, finishing with over 100 receiving yards. He spent the next year at a junior college, then returned in 2017 to Morgantown, where he continued his development out wide. Sills tied for the Football Bowl Subdivision lead in touchdowns as a junior (18), then added 15 more along with 986 receiving yards as a senior. Despite inconsistent hands and struggles against press coverage, he has the size (6-4, 203) and ball skills to be a downfield threat.