Indianapolis — Before heading to the NFL scouting combine this week, Maryland offensive lineman Derwin Gray asked Yannick Ngakoue for advice. Last year, he talked to DJ Moore about the draft process. As far as sounding boards go, he could have done worse than two young NFL stars.
But Ngakoue, a defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Moore, a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, did not have to answer questions about whether they minded moving on from the position at which they excelled in college. In Indianapolis, a lot of teams have asked for Gray’s thoughts on playing guard, a post unfamiliar to him in College Park.
“They see me as a versatile player that can be a swing guy, that can play a lot of different things,” he said Thursday. “I’m very confident in my ability that I can play anywhere on the line of scrimmage. It really doesn’t matter. A lot of teams just want to know if I’m willing to play different spots. … They really need a solid guard that can hold it down, so I want to go in and get the job done.”
Gray, who said he had a formal meeting Thursday with the Ravens, one of an estimated 20-plus teams he’s talked with, has no preference for where he plays at the next level. He was twice an All-Big Ten honorable mention at left tackle but has the size (6 feet 4, 320 pounds) of an interior lineman.
“Wherever I’m needed to play at to get the job done and win championships,” he said, “that’s what I’m going to do.”
Joining Gray in Indianapolis are Maryland safety Darnell Savage and defensive lineman Byron Cowart. Gray, a Washington native, was disappointed not to have a fourth Terp at the combine.
Damian Prince, a third-team All-Big Ten selection at right tackle in 2018, was snubbed after starting 39 games for Maryland over four seasons.
“I was hoping he was going to be here as well, but he understands,” Gray said. “I told him to use it as motivation to get better. It ain’t over. You still have an opportunity to prove yourself at the Pro Day. Definitely, he feels a type of way. But it’s all good. Competitors are going to feel that way when you feel like you should be picked.”
Gray said although Maryland has “never really had a big history of a lot of guys going to the combine,” Moore’s rapid rise up draft boards last year has helped open eyes. He hopes they’re looking at him.
“DJ’s success on the field and what he did at the combine, it’s always going to put Maryland on the map and have people look at Maryland players more closely,” he said. “I’m just going to continue the tradition.”
Note: With the departure of a talented senior class, Gray said he expected linebacker Antoine Brooks Jr. to be the Terps’ top returning player next season, with running back Anthony McFarland Jr. also a top contender.