The NFL Draft picks off live from Kansas City on Thursday night. By the time all seven rounds are compete there are four Minnesota Gophers who will have a good chance to hear their names called as the newest members of the NFL Draft Class of 2023. There is a lot of Minnesota Football history riding on the line as well. If all four Gophers are picked, it would give them 15 draft picks during the last four years and would be the most in school history since 1971-74, when Minnesota had 19 players picked. If just three come off the board it will be the most since the three year stretch of 1988-1991. John Michael Schmitz should go in the top two rounds this weekend and he will be the highest Gopher OL drafted since Brian Williams in 1989. It will also be the first time that the Gophers have had offensive lineman drafted in consecutive drafts since 2001-2002 (tackle Adam Haayer was drafted in sixth round in 2001 by Tennessee and tackle Matt Anderle was drafted in the sixth round in 2002 by San Diego, and Danial Faalele went in the fourth round to Baltimore last season.
So below we will reveal the latest mock drafts we can find as the opening round gets started on Thursday and then our predictions for where the former Gophers will land.
John Michael Schmitz- IOL
Mock draft results:
1st Round Pick #20 to Seattle Seahawks—AMNY
1st Round Pick #20 to Seattle Seahawks— Bears Wire
1st Round Pick #25 to New York Giants—Vikings Wire
1st Round Pick #25 to New York Giants — Pro Football Network
1st Round Pick #30 to Philadelphia Eagles—Mark Craig/Star Tribune
2nd Round Pick #34 to Arizona Cardinals —Sporting News
2nd Round Pick #36 to Los Angeles Rams—Yahoo Sports
2nd Round Pick #36 to New York Giants—Behind the Steel Curtain
2nd Round Pick #41 to Tennessee Titans—Walter Football
2nd Round Pick #43 to New York Jets —Matt Miller/ ESPN
2nd Round Pick #43 to New York Jets—Pro Football Focus
2nd Round Pick #57 to New York Giants—The Athletic
2nd Round Pick #57 to New York Giants—NFL.com
While JMS probably has first round talent, interior offensive linemen are just not as sought out as some other positions, so he will slide down the draft board. Several teams do need interior OL help though so the interest should be high in the second round. The Giants are a team linked to JMS a lot, but I don’t think they take him at #25, but I also don’t think he will fall all the way to #57 for them to take him there in the 2nd round. The Behind the Steel Curtain blog that has the Giants trading up is a pretty good prediction, but I just can’t make that big a leap. Thus I’ll go with two of the other mock drafts and say that JMS will be one of Aaron Rodgers new protectors and will go to the New York Jets with Pick to 43 in the 2nd round.
Mock Draft results:
Round 4 Pick #114 to Carolina Panthers—The Athletic
Round 4 Pick 115 to New Orleans Saints—Behind the Steel Curtain
Round 4 Pick #115 to New Orleans Saints—ESPN.com/Matt Miler
Round 4 Pick #135 New England Patriots—Patriots.com
Round 6 Pick #169 Indianapolis Colts—Stampede Blue
Round 6 Pick #185 to Jacksonville Jaguars—Big Cat Country
Round 6 Pick #211 to Minnesota Vikings—Pro Football Focus
Round 7 Pick #220 to Los Vegas Raiders—NFL.com
Round 7 Pick #247 to San Francisco 49ers—Sporting News
Smith jumped up draft boards with his measurables at the combine. In a deep cornerback draft it’s possible he could slide, but I think that he may pop up and go higher than people may expect is just as good. The Vikings took a Minnesota player last year and seem to have a good vibe with PJ Fleck and his staff now. It ay depend on what Minnesota does in the first round but for now I’ll predict Smith goes in the 4th Round Pick #119 to the Minnesota Vikings.
Link to Draft Preview Article:
Mock Draft results:
Round 5 Pick #149 to Green Bay Packers-Walter Football
Round 6 Pick #179 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers—NFL.com
Round 7 Pick #247 to San Francisco 49ers—The Athletic SF
Round 7 Pick #256 to Green bay Packers—The Athletic
Not Drafted—Pro Football Focus
Not Drafted—Behind the Steel Curtain
Not Drafted—ESPN.com/Matt Miller
The consensus seems to be split whether Howden goes in the later rounds or goes undrafted completely. PJ Fleck defensive backs have more often than not been picked later in the raft even when it was a surprise—see Chris Williamson in 2019. I think Howden gets drafted, but he will probably need to sweat it out for a while. Seems like there is some definite interest in the bays—Green and Tampa. Of course Tampa already has his former secondary mate in Antoine Winfield, Jr. The Buc shave three sixth round picks, and I think they decide they want to get the band back together. Tampa Bay selects Howden in Round 6 Pick #196.
Link to Draft Preview Article:
Mock Draft Results:
Round 6 Pick #194 to Detroit Lions—Behind the Steel Curtain
Round 6 Pick #201 to Houston Texans—NFL.com
Round 6 Pick #215 to Washington Commanders—Sporting News
Round 7 Pick #218 to Chicago Bears—NBC Chicago
Round 7 Pick #243 to New York Giants—Pro Football Focus
Round 7 Pick #244 to Dallas Cowboys—Blogging the Boys
Not Drafted—Walter Football
Not Drafted The Athletic
Not Drafted—ESPN.com/ Matt Miller
Mo is too good of a talent to not get drafted. While he lacks the NFL speed needed to be a #1 back, there is no reason why he can’t win a spot as a chance of pace back and get teams a few yards when needed. But he will most likely need to wait until late on Saturday to hear his name. Any team that wants to take a flyer on a potential running back steal is a possibility late in the draft. There are a few teams o this list that may have rb openings soon as well with current players on one year deals. and I think one of them gets Mo. The pick is that Mo will go to the New York Giants in Round 6 with Pick #209.
Minnesota also has several other players who while they probably won’t hear their name called have a good chance at landing an undrafted free agent deal and earning a spot on a NFL team’s training camp roster. Those players include : Chuck Filiaga, Tanner Morgan, Axel Ruschmeyer, Thomas Rush, Mariano Sori-Marin and Matthew Trickett.
We will have posts up as players are selected this weekend and a full recap including Minnesota’s UDFA signings next week.