Chances for Maryland football rookies to make the 53-man roster

With OTAs and minicamp wrapped up, NFL players now get a month off before training camp starts again ahead of the 2023 season. With roster cuts looming, several former Maryland stars will look to make the week one roster after five Terps were drafted and several more were signed as undrafted free agents. So, what are their chances of making the 53-man roster? We take a dive how they’ve fared and what’s next.

Deonte Banks, CB, New York Giants

Banks is guaranteed to make the Giants’ opening day roster due to the team using their first-round pick on him. The question is how often will he play? Banks is expected to start alongside Adoree’ Jackson in 2023. While Banks didn’t play with the starters right away at the start of OTAs, he soon lined up with them and even had an interception on day six. His play has caught the eye of Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale and a few of his teammates. “I think it’s important to have a cornerback like that in anybody’s defense,” Martindale told to “He’s very instinctive. What’s Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He’s got a short memory when things don’t go right. He’s tough-minded, he’s physical, he can tackle and on top of that he can run.” Banks seems to be a perfect fit for the Giants’ defense as he played his best in man, where Martindale has his corners in. The Giants’ pass defense ranked 14thin yards, and ninth in touchdowns last year, while only intercepting six passes. The only corner to record an interception was Rodarius Williams, who only played in three games in 2022. Fabian Moreau was not brought back after starting 11 games and Jackson missed seven games last year with an MCL sprain. Banks signed a four-year, $13.579 million deal in May.

Chance to make the roster: 100%

Jakorian Bennett, CB, Las Vegas Raiders

If Bennett is half as good for the Raiders as he was for Maryland, he’s a lock for the 53-man roster. The Raiders took Bennett in the fourth round to help a defense that ranked 28thin yards, 26th in points given up, and last in takeaways. The team had six interceptions all year. Rock Ya-Sin, who started nine games for the Raiders in 2022, left for the Ravens, leaving the team with Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson as the top corners returning. The Raiders did sign three corners in free agency to add depth. None have been full-time starters, though, meaning Bennett could still be called on to perform right away as a rookie. CBS Sports named him as the Raiders draft pick after the first round who could earn a key role in 2023. “Bennett had a day two grade in my scouting grade book. He was that sticky and productive on film. Oh, and he tested like an elite athlete at the combine,” said Chris Trapasso. Bennett has a knack for getting his hands on the ball and making big plays where it mattered most. In his last two years at Maryland, he knocked down 24 passes, while intercepting five. Bennett ended his college career with a game-sealing interception in Duke’s Mayo Bowl and picked off another late in the Senior Bowl. Bennett signed a four-year, $4.67 million deal.

Chance to make the roster: 90%

Chad Ryland, K, New England Patriots

38-year-old Nick Folk has been the Patriots’ kicker after being signed during the 2019 season. Folk made 32 of 37 field goals in 2022, with and long of 54 yards and 32 of 35 extra points attempted. This offseason, the team traded up in the fourth round to draft Ryland with the hopes he will be their kicker for the next decade plus. Ryland came to Maryland after transferring from Eastern Michigan. During his time at Eastern Michigan, he is the school’s all-time leader in points scored, extra point attempts, and made, and second in school history in field goals made. In his lone season at Maryland, Ryland was named a second-team All-Big Ten selection, making 19 of 23 field goal attempts, connecting on all nine attempts from inside 40 yards, and making three from beyond 50. Now the rookie must officially beat the vet for the Patriots’ kicker job. Ryland signed a four-year, $4.626 million deal.

Chance to make the roster: 95%

Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Tennessee Titans

Duncan came to the Terps as a four-star recruit that was expected to hold down their left tackle spots for multiple years. He did just that, getting his first start in week 2 of 2019 and finishing his career with 39 starts at left tackle. During his time at Maryland, he helped Taulia Tagovailoa set multiple school records and opened running lanes for future draft picks Anthony McFarland and Jake Funk. His play earned him All-Big Ten Honorable mentions in 2020, 2021, and 2022. However, he had a rough draft process that included not doing on-field drills at the combine and reportedly, not doing well during interviews. This led to him falling from a potential day-two selection to being picked in the sixth round by the Titans. This could prove to be a steal for the Titans if Duncan can play up to the talent that he has. The team released Taylor Lewan during the offseason and drafted Peter Skoronski in the first round of the 2023 draft. With him or free agent signing Andre Dillard expected to replace Lewan at left tackle and second-year pro Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle, Duncan will fight for a reserve role at tackle. Duncan signed a four-year, $4.02 million deal.

Chance to make the roster: 50%

Spencer Anderson, OL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Anderson became the fifth Terp to be drafted by the Steelers since 2016 when they selected him in the seventh round. Anderson was known for his versatility during his time at Maryland, starting at four offensive line positions in his 31 starts at Maryland. He was named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2021. The versatility he provides allows the Steelers to find the best spot to put him in to make the roster. It looks the Steelers have already done that as Matthew Marczi of Steelers Depot mentioned in his “stock watch” article about Anderson. “The Steelers are setting him up to be able to compete for a roster spot in the only way he can find room, at center,” said Marczi who put Anderson’s stock up. He will be in a battle for the backup center role with Kendrick Green, with the winner likely getting the last offensive lineman spot. Anderson’s contract is expected to be a four-year deal worth $3.9 million.

Chance to make the roster: 60%

Dontay Demus, WR, Baltimore Ravens

If it wasn’t for a serious knee injury suffered against Iowa in 2021, Demus most likely would have been a first or second-round pick in last year’s draft. Instead, the former Friendship Collegiate star went undrafted in 2022, as he never seemed fully recovered from the injury, despite starting in week one. On the bright side, he did get to stay in the state of Maryland after signing with the Baltimore Ravens. Demus does have an uphill battle to make the Ravens’ 53-man roster. With the team’s top five receivers seemly set with Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Nelson Agholor, and Devin Duvernay, Demus is fighting for the sixth spot. He’s battling for this spot with Tylan Wallace, Laquon Treadwell, James Proche, Andy Isabella, Shemar Bridges, and others. One thing that will help Demus’ case is if he can perform on special teams. The Ravens’ top five receivers are all 6-foot and under and that could also be helpful for the 6-foot-3 Demus. Also don’t be surprised if he goes on injured reserve if he impresses the team, as the Ravens are known to do it.

Chance to make the roster: 35%

Rakim Jarrett, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jarrett going undrafted came as a bit of a shock to Maryland fans with naming him the top undrafted wideout. The former St. John’s (DC) five-star recruit was named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention all three seasons at Maryland. He led the team in receptions (60), receiving yards (829), and touchdowns (5) in 2021. While Jarrett wasn’t drafted, he did get $225,000 guaranteed from the Buccaneers, which is more than most undrafted rookies get. The Bucs also only have three spots set at receiver right now with, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage almost guaranteed to make the roster. Jarrett’s competition for the remaining spots includes sixth-round pick Trey Palmer, David Moore, Deven Thompkins, and other rookies. With the guaranteed money given to Jarrett, the young receiver has a viable chance to make a name for himself in the post-Tom Brady era in Tampa. Jarrett signed an FA deal worth $225,000 guaranteed.

Chance to make the roster: 45%

Jacob Copeland, WR, Tennessee Titans

Copeland, who joined Duncan in Tennessee, transferred to Maryland from Florida in 2022 and finished the season with 26 receptions for 376 yards and two touchdowns. In 2021, he led the Gators in receptions (41), yards (642), and touchdowns (4). The third Maryland receiver to go undrafted, Copeland has given himself some extra motivation to make the Titans’ 53-man roster. “There were 32 receivers drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. I’ll never forget that. I wrote down the name of each receiver that went in each round,” Copeland told BSM. The Titans receiving core might only have one guarantee with Treylon Burks. Chris Moore and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine might be the second and third-best receivers on the team. The Titans didn’t take a receiver until the seventh round with Tennessee-Martin’s Colton Dowell. They are perceived to be one of two finalists for former Cardinals WR Deandre Hopkins, which could hinder his chances.

Chance to make the roster: 30%

Johari Branch, OL, LA Chargers

Branch was one of four players from Independence Community College to sign with Maryland in 2020. He started 30 games across all three interior line positions during his time as a Terp. Listed as a center for the Chargers, Branch is going to have to be almost perfect to earn a week one roster spot. With Corey Linsley holding down the starting spot and Will Clapp as a veteran backup, it looks like a battle between Branch and Isaac Weaver for the third-string center spot. His time spent as a guard for Maryland could allow him to step in anytime someone on the interior goes down.

Chance to make the roster: 10%

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