Four Gophers Invited to NFL Combine

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn - Associated Press

The Minnesota Gophers have a multitude of former players who will be vying for roster spots on NFL teams this spring, summer and into fall. The route will be easier for some, than it will be for others.

Last week, six former Gophers participated in the three recognized NFL prospect bowls. On Wednesday, it was announced that four of those U of M football standouts — (C) John Michael Schmitz, (CB) Terell Smith, (S) Jordan Howden and (RB) Mohamed Ibrahim — received invites to the upcoming draft combine (Feb. 28 – Mar. 6).

John Michael Schmitz and Mohamed Ibrahim vs NFL Combine

John Michael Schmitz can continue to separate himself from the rest of the center class with a good combine. It could be the difference between being a late-1st/early-2nd round pick or falling into the 3rd. But knowing what he did at the Senior Bowl, I wouldn’t expect a regression in Indianapolis.

It’ll be interesting to see where Mohamed Ibrahim ranks in many of the drills he’ll be run through, compared to other running back prospects. Everyone knows what he’s done as a Gopher and the film speaks for himself.

What draft experts believe will hold Mo back, come April, are (a) his age [almost 25] and (b) his athletic measurables. If Mo can change some minds by running faster, jumping higher and moving quicker than scouts expect, he could jump from a late-round/undrafted type prospect, up to an early day-3 guy.

Jordan Howden and Terell Smith vs NFL Combine

Jordan Howden and Terell Smith are currently projected as late-round/undrafted prospects. They too could see their stocks rise significantly with good showings at the combine. Terell Smith, who was one of the biggest standouts at the East/West Shrine Bowl, is an athletic specimen so he’s a guy to watch when the pads come off and underwear goes on.

Omitted from the roster in Indianapolis, out of those who received invites to one of either the NFLPA, Shrine or Senior Bowls last week, were (QB) Tanner Morgan and (EDGE) Thomas Rush. Both guys had their moments last week but couldn’t make the NFL Combine cut.

Tanner Morgan and Thomas Rush Miss Combine Cut

At the East/West Shrine Bowl, Morgan seemed to throw the ball well during the week but went just 3 of 7 for 33 yards and 1 interception on game day. Rush was the only Gopher representative at the NFLPA Bowl. He stood out at practice and grabbed two sacks in the game.

Missing out on the combine doesn’t mean Morgan and Rush won’t make an NFL roster, or practice squad, come fall. As mentioned before, their route just became a little more difficult.

That won’t be a problem for either guy, though. When you’re baptized and raised in PJ Fleck’s Row The Boat culture, you have your oar ready for all waters. It wouldn’t surprise me to see all six of these guys making money in The League next season.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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