Gophers Moving On To The NFL

Gophers moving on to the NFL

It’s been a busy Spring for Minnesota, culminating in the NFL draft. There are several Gophers moving on to the NFL; three were drafted and another handful signed as free agents as of Sunday morning. Here’s a brief look at each of the aforementioned players and where they ended up.

John Michael Schmitz, C, New York Giants

As many had predicted, the Giants made Schmitz their second-round pick (57th overall). The team currently has two centers on the roster, with a combined eight career starts, so there’s a decent chance Schmitz is a Game One starter. ESPN’s Mel Kiper referred to him as a potential Pro Bowler. If Twitter is any indication, Giants fans are thrilled with this pick, and they should be. With 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas, 2022 first-rounder Evan Neal, and now Schmitz, New York is building a solid young offensive line in front of quarterback Daniel Jones. ESPN’s Todd McShay named Schmitz to the Giants as his favorite pick of the draft.

Jordan Howden, S, New Orleans Saints

The Saints selected Howden in the fifth round (146th overall). ESPN has already penciled him in behind Marcus Maye on the depth chart at strong safety. Howden led the Minnesota secondary in tackles last season with 58 and added two of the team’s 14 interceptions. As a fifth-rounder, he’ll likely need to play special teams to crack the 53-man roster, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the speedy, sure tackler.

Terell Smith, CB, Chicago Bears

Chicago chose Smith in the fifth round (165th overall). The fifth-year senior had a stellar season for the Gophers, posting career highs in tackles for loss, interceptions, and sacks. ESPN’s Mel Kiper praised his anticipation on the field, noting that his ball skills need work. Like Howden, he’ll probably need to contribute on special teams to see the field this season, but the Bears’ woeful defense could use an infusion of fresh talent.

Tanner Morgan, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (UDFA)

The Steelers are a good fit for Morgan, as they play some of the same run-pass option offense that Morgan ran successfully at Minnesota. However, with Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky on the roster, Morgan seems like a long shot to make the 53-man roster. We could see him being on the practice squad, though.

Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Detroit Lions (UDFA)

Ibrahim’s deal with the Lions reportedly includes $100,000 guaranteed. That’s more similar to the usual deal for a late-round pick than a UDFA.

The holder of multiple Gopher rushing records, Ibrahim isn’t currently among the four backs listed on ESPN’s Lions’ depth chart. But the deal the Lions gave him indicated that they think highly of him. Our guess is that he’ll start the season as the third RB, behind first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama) and free-agent signee David Montgomery (CHI).

Thomas Rush, LB, Tennessee Titans (UDFA)

Rush came into his own over the past two seasons and will reunite with fellow Gopher LB Jack Gibbens (UDFA, 2022) in Nashville. We can’t think of a better head coach for young linebackers than Mike Vrabel.

Chuck Filiaga, OL, Green Bay Packers (UDFA)

This may be tough to take for the many Gopher fans who are also Viking fans! Green Bay has some linemen who are getting long in the tooth, so Filiaga will have an outside chance at playing time, albeit maybe not this season. Again, special teams contribution will be key if he’s to make the roster- or, more likely, the practice squad.

Mariano Sori-Marin, LB, San Francisco 49ers (UDFA)

Sori-Marin goes to play for coach P.J. Fleck‘s former team. A blood-and-guts linebacker and leader of the Gophers’ defense, it’s hard to imagine a defensive coordinator not loving this guy. (Also, we can’t wait to hear what the noted foodie thinks of San Francisco’s restaurant scene!)