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Former Gophers in the NFL, Current Gophers With Potential

There really are not too many former Gophers still playing in the NFL. A few vets are currently not employed like Mark Setterstrom, Lawrence Maroney and Ben Hamilton so the numbers of professional Gophers are dwindling. But the few who are on NFL rosters and participating did produce in week one.

Eric Decker gets time at receiver but he made his mark with a punt return for six points in the Broncos loss to Oakland.

Matt Spaeth only caught two passes as a backup TE, but one of them was for a touchdown at the Bears rolled the Falcons.

And Marcus Sherels proved his metal enough to make the Viking's roster and was rewarded with a couple punt return opportunities.

Of the rest I was surprised to see that Logan Payne was on an NFL roster. After pushing Tim Tebow during fall camp, Adam Weber did make the practice squad in Denver so hats off to him. And Traye Simmons is getting another year in San Diego to earn a roster spot and start contributing at the NFL level. Finally, the three guys listed at the bottom were all late cuts for the teams they were attempting to catch on to.

Player Pos Team Depth Chart Week 1 Stats
Eric Decker WR Denver Broncos 2nd string 3 rec, 53 yds, punt return TD
Matt Spaeth TE Chicago Bears 2nd string 2 rec, 7 yds, 1 TD
Dominique Barber SS Houston Texans 2nd string no stats recorded
Marion Barber III RB Chicago Bears 2nd string DNP - injured calf
Marcus Sherels CB Minnesota Vikings 3rd string 2 punt returns, 17 yds
Logan Payne WR New York Jets 3rd string no stats recorded
Traye Simmons CB San Diego Chargers practice squad
Adam Weber QB Denver Broncos practice squad
Jon Hoese FB WAIVED - Green Bay
Simoni Lawrence LB WAIVED - Tampa Bay
Nathan Triplett LB WAIVED - Indy

The current list is pretty short but there are a few guys on the current roster who may get opportunities to play on Sundays in the near future.

  • Da'Jon McKnight - tall, athletic and an end zone scoring receiver. There are a LOT of receivers in the league and he may just blend in but he will most certainly get a shot. My money would be on the young WR to be on an NFL practice squad next year. Best Landing Spot: Minnesota, among other teams lacking athletic WRs.
  • MarQueis Gray - If he is playing on Sundays I doubt it will be as a QB. He is a focused and talented young man who could prove me wrong, and I'll gladly put him on my fantasy team. Undoubtedly talented enough to play on Sundays but I believe his NFL future would be as a wide receiver. His size, his elusiveness and his ability to get open when he was a sophomore who had very little time to actually learn the position make him a legit candidate to play at the next level. Best Landing Spot: Philadelphia where he can learn behind Vick and Vince Young for a couple years.
  • Ed Olson and Jimmy Gjere - both started as freshmen, both have very good size and athleticism. Both will have every opportunity to grow into NFL caliber linemen. Too early to really project and it obviously will require a lot of work on their technique and strength. Best Landing Spot: Anywhere next to a good RG with a great LT on the other side.
  • Keanon Cooper - It is not very often that the fastest man on your team is a linebacker. Cooper has great speed and good size to play safety at the next level. His awareness and coverage are sometimes an issue so when he gets to a level where everyone is bigger and faster, then it is often the little things like awareness that separate the roster spots from guys watching the games on Sunday. I believe Cooper will get a shot, especially with another year to learn. Best Landing Spot: Pittsburgh to learn behind Troy Polamalu.
  • Troy Stoudermire - He is still kind of a toddler in his growth as a corner but he has good speed, good size and displays some natural instincts to be a good corner. Stoudermire could easily fill a role similar to Sherels where he is buried on the CB depth chart but contributes in a significant way on special teams. Best Landing Spot: Dallas

Am I missing anybody? Eric Lair is a maybe but there are a lot of athletic tight ends and he hasn't really set himself apart as an NFL caliber guy yet. Everybody loves the idea of Brendan Beal. He hasn't done anything yet but he'll have a couple years as the starter to prove something, way too early to tell. Any of the other freshmen are also way too early to make any sort of a prediction.