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    RJ Maryland’s Draft Profile | SMU, TE Scouting Report

    Can SMU tight end RJ Maryland follow in his father's footsteps and be selected early in the 2025 NFL Draft with his scouting report?

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    Last modified on June 27, 2024 | 1:20 PM EDT

    Published on June 25, 2024 | 1:10 PM EDT

    Known for their production on the offensive side of the ball, could the SMU Mustangs have another early-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft with the scouting report of RJ Maryland?

    Maryland has already put up eye-catching numbers, and his tape also demands attention.

    RJ Maryland’s Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’4″
    • Weight: 233 pounds
    • Position: Tight End
    • School: SMU
    • Current Year: Junior

    If Maryland’s first initial and last name seems familiar to you, that’s because it is. Maryland is the son of Russell Maryland, the Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle who went first overall in the 1991 NFL Draft and earned three Super Bowl rings and one Pro Bowl berth with the Dallas Cowboys.

    Maryland could have played at his father’s school. He was a coveted four-star recruit at tight end out of high school, and as a senior at Southlake Carroll, he amassed 65 catches for over 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. But the younger Maryland instead chose to remain in-state and signed with the SMU Mustangs.

    With his natural talent, Maryland was able to play right away in Dallas. As a true freshman, he logged 28 catches for 296 yards and six TDs, earning College Football Network Freshman All-American honors. In 2023, he racked up 34 catches for 518 yards and seven scores and was a first-team All-AAC performer.

    As the 2024 regular season nears, Maryland is not only a well-known producer at TE on the college football stage, but also a highly-regarded 2025 NFL Draft prospect.

    What does Maryland bring to the table, and how high could he come off the board?

    Maryland’s Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Sports a streamlined frame with a compact center, decent mass, and good length.
    • Has great explosiveness and bend, which he can use to separate quickly and find space.
    • Boasts the searing explosiveness to rocket up the seam and create angle advantages.
    • Venerable RAC threat with his burst, instincts, strong hands, and size-adjusted speed.
    • Has shown he can off-set slot defenders with brutal split releases, then explode upfield.
    • Can bend around quick slants and sustain acceleration while setting himself up for RAC.
    • Has the zone awareness to peel around intermediate defenders and find open windows.
    • Can go up and snag tight, high-difficulty passes with authority up the seam.
    • Shows off an impressive blend of patience, body control, coordination, and proactivity.
    • Has stellar composure in contested situations and uses his frame to dictate positioning.
    • Has strong hands over the middle of the field and can secure passes amidst contact.
    • Can supplement second-level releases with precise hand usage, decoupling with swims.
    • Has vast alignment versatility, with usage wide, in the slot, at H-back, and off motions.
    • Shows glimpses of grating play strength and contact balance after the catch.
    • Flashes range and physicality as a second-level blocker, directing defenders in space.

    Weaknesses

    • Play strength is noticeably middling, and can impact block sustain in the run game.
    • Isn’t as comfortable blocking in-line, as lacking strength can exacerbate technical issues.
    • Often halts his feet at contact, stalling leg drive and canceling power exertions.
    • Losses at contact can force him upright with pads, nullifying base load and leverage.
    • At times lurches off the snap and extends before setting his feet, jeopardizing balance.
    • Conversely, will sometimes duck his head and tuck his arms, neutralizing his form.
    • Take-on technique and hand carriage is inconsistent as a blocker, sapping at utility.
    • Upper and lower body can be disjointed on slants and curls, keying in defenders early.
    • Sometimes chops his feet before he drops his hips, snagging momentum on breaks.
    • Doesn’t have great hip sink or suddenness on whips and multi-layered routes.
    • At times, urgency and pacing heading into in-breakers and crossers is inconsistent.
    • Inconsistent urgency can impact ability to make himself available on the scramble drill.
    • Has room to keep expanding and refining his route tree past vertical concepts.
    • Doesn’t quite have the elite long speed to sustain separation up the seam.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Entering the 2025 NFL Draft cycle, Maryland grades out as a mid-to-late Day 3 prospect. That said, he has the athletic upside and receiving instincts to rise into the early-round range with another year of development.

    At 6’4″, 233 pounds, with great proportional length, Maryland has the profile, and he has the athleticism. He’s explosive, agile, has seam-stretching speed, and there are flashes of impressive bend and efficiency as a route runner. Meanwhile, at the catch point, he’s instinctive and authoritative, with strong, reliable hands.

    Maryland has an exciting receiving framework and he’s also a respectable RAC threat with his speed, explosiveness, and grating play strength. Going further, he has exciting alignment versatility; he’s taken reps out wide, in the slot, in-line, at H-back, and off motion.

    That said, if Maryland’s alignment versatility is going to be indulged fully at the NFL level, he needs to become a much better blocker and a more refined route runner. At times, Maryland is a blocking liability whose inconsistent play strength, leverage, hand carriage, landmark IQ, and lower-body drive can cause quick losses against assignments.

    Maryland’s route running projection is more promising, given his athleticism. But even there, he needs to work on his upper-lower synergy, pacing, and plant-and-drive footwork overtop stems.

    In the immediate timeline, Maryland has visible appeal as a big-slot weapon with dynamic vertical ability and some role flexibility. But if he wants to become more than a high-variance TE2 with low early-down utility, improving his blocking and route running is the next step.

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