Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio made the trip to Byrd Stadium on April 2, 2015 to take in the Maryland Terrapins’ pro day.
Caserio, the New England Patriots’ director of player personnel, chipped in as a quarterback during the workouts. Belichick, meanwhile, was spotted on the sidelines chatting with then-Terps head coach Randy Edsall, as well as the program’s then-receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who played for the Cleveland Browns during Belichick’s tenure.
The headlining prospect there in College Park that day also happened to be a receiver by the name of Stefon Diggs, who’d ultimately land with the Minnesota Vikings as a fifth-round selection only a month later. Others of note included fellow wideout Deon Long, linebackers Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and Cole Farrand, and also defensive tackle Andre Monroe.
But the lone other Terrapin drafted that spring would be nose tackle Darius Kilgo.
The 6-foot-3, 319-pound redshirt senior, who reportedly met with members of the Patriots’ contingent a day before the school’s pro day, had accrued 19.5 tackles for loss and five sacks while serving as a three-year starter for Maryland. Along the way, he had lined up alongside fellow interior D-linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, who both later went on to spend time with New England.
Kilgo eventually would, too.
The Patriots claimed the 2015 sixth-round pick off waivers from the Denver Broncos on Monday, in what figures to be the trickle-down transaction in wake of starting defensive tackle Alan Branch’s impending four-game suspension.
Now, Kilgo finds himself on a depth chart that currently still features Branch, along with fellow starter Malcom Brown, third-round pick Vincent Valentine and undrafted rookie Woodrow Hamilton.
It is not certain just how long he’ll find himself there, but his utilization appears to be more so.
“Well, Darius is a big kid that's pretty athletic, a hard-working kid, has a good work ethic, good intangibles,” Belichick told reporters during his conference call Tuesday morning. “We did some work on him coming out of the draft, and we look forward to working with him. He was available and again, I wouldn't say we're – it gives us another person at that position that I felt like we needed from a depth standpoint.”
A rotational run-defending presence, Kilgo had appeared in a total of 18 games over the course of his two seasons in Denver. Playing between the zero-technique, the shade and the three-tech, he collected 11 tackles, one batted pass and a Super Bowl ring while checking in for only 10 percent of the defense’s snaps.
Kilgo’s work did not often transpire behind the line during his stay in Denver. One-gap rushing to the quarterback wasn’t what brought him there at pick No. 203 overall. But a coexistent use of strength and pad level did see him occupy blocks. And on occasion, those characteristics did give way to moments in the backfield.
That was the case in Week 5, when No. 98 stunted to hit home on Atlanta Falcons signal-caller Matt Ryan.
Kilgo’s skillset, nonetheless, is tailored almost exclusively to limiting, or in glimpses, disrupting things against the ground game.
The 24-year-old recorded five tackles over the course of his 81 snaps for the Broncos this campaign, and all five occurred on running backs. He tackled Lamar Miller after a three-yard gain, Devonta Freeman after a four-yard gain, Giovani Bernard after a two-yard gain and Jonathan Stewart after a three-yard gain over that span.
And in Week 2, Kilgo lowered his left shoulder between the center and guard. He knifed through the A-gap to wrap up the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Gore for no gain thenceforth.
His sample size has remained tempered, though. Expectations should as well.
The most snaps Kilgo has recorded in a single game – 22 – transpired in his first game back in September of 2015. And thus far into the 2016 slate, he has played nine or fewer snaps in six of his nine appearances.
That type of workload could be what the Patriots expect from him. That could be all that’s required from him. But although there’s little flash involved in Kilgo’s acquisition, he provides serviceable and situational depth at an area where it will likely soon be needed.
There’s no harm in finding out what else that may bring. Perhaps the Patriots saw that some two years ago.