When it comes to the NFL, Gophers are improving, still have work to do

Gopher_In_NYC

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Good article and at least we don't have to worry any longer, IF we'll have anyone drafted on a yearly basis

Will be interesting to see where we are in year 5. Let's see how many get picked off of our 9+ win team this year.


Minnesota has had solid back-to-back NFL drafts under P.J. Fleck, but last season they still ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten when it came to pro players.

The last two NFL drafts have been monumental for the Gophers — in 2020 they had five players selected, their highest total since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994 and their highest total since 1972, when Minnesota had six players drafted over 17 rounds.

Two of those picks, defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. (second round, No. 45 overall) and wide receiver Tyler Johnson (fifth round, No. 151 overall) went to Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl in their first season.

Then this year they watched as wide receiver Rashod Bateman was selected No. 27 overall by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round, the first time the Gophers had a first round pick in 15 years (Laurence Maroney, 2006, No. 21 overall to New England).

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The Gophers have already had a historic season under P.J. Fleck at the collegiate level, winning 11 games in 2019, but the process of showcasing their talent at the highest level of football is slow moving.

Last year the NCAA reported where every collegiate team stood when it came to number of players on NFL rosters, and the Gophers ranked tied for 60th out of the 128 Division I schools that had a player on an NFL roster.
The Gophers had nine rostered pro players in 2020.

That number ranked tied for 12th out of 14 Big Ten programs, ahead of only Northwestern's seven players.
Last season the conference parity in pro players looked like this, with overall rankings in parentheses: Ohio State 50 (No. 2), Michigan 33 (No. 5), Penn State 32 (tied No. 6), Iowa 28 (tied No. 12), Wisconsin 25 (tied No. 17), Nebraska 18 (tied No. 28), Michigan State 12 (tied No. 44), Maryland 11 (tied No. 50), Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers 10 (tied No. 54), the Gophers and Indiana 9 (tied No. 60), Northwestern 7 (tied No. 72).

Still the tide may be turning for the Gophers, as they now have 15 players on pro rosters as NFL offseason training activities get underway — and it's worth noting the youth of these players, the oldest former Gopher on an NFL roster is 28-year-old Briean Boddy-Calhoun of the 49ers.
The only question will be how many of those 15 end up playing this season.

And when it comes to the future, Mel Kiper of ESPN recently updated his Top 10 position prospects for the 2022 draft and two Gophers made the lists: running back Mohamed Ibrahim and linebacker Boye Mafe.

Here is the list of the 15 Gophers currently on a NFL roster, according to the Pro Football Database:

Maxx Williams, 27, Arizona Cardinals, tight end
Chris Williamson, 24, Atlanta Falcons, defensive back
Bateman, 21, Baltimore Ravens, wide receiver
Rodney Smith, 25, Carolina Panthers, running back
Kamal Martin, 22, Green Bay Packers, linebacker
Eric Murray, 27, Houston Texans, defensive back
Damien Wilson, 27, Jacksonville Jaguars, linebacker
Carter Coughlin, 23, New York Giants, linebacker
Ryan Santoso, 25, New York Giants, punter
Blake Cashman, 25, New York Jets, linebacker
Boddy-Calhoun, 28, San Francisco 49ers, defensive back
Johnson, 22, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wide receiver
Sam Renner, 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defensive tackle
Winfield Jr., 22, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defensive back
Benjamin St-Juste, 21, Washington Football Team, defensive back
 




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