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Draft thoughts: Kiper says Richardson should return for senior season

Gophers defensive tackle Steven Richardson is only a junior, but with 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks, his NFL stock keeps rising.

Asked Thursday about the pros and cons for Richardson to declare early for the 2017 draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper said, “I’d say it’s better to go back [for his senior year] because the defensive tackle position is so good this year. It’s one of the best positions in the draft potentially.

“… With Richardson, while I liked everything I saw about him, I think another season would put him up in that top 5-8 defensive tackles overall. And certainly at that point, you’re looking at a 2-3 round bump from where he is right now, which is significant.”

Matt Miller, from, has four Gophers seniors listed on his latest 2017 NFL Draft Big Board: Mitch Leidner as the No. 13 QB, Jonah Pirsig as the No. 15 OT, Jalen Myrick as the No. 25 CB and Damarius Travis as the No. 28 safety.

Kiper said Myrick and Travis are probably “Day 3” draft prospects (rounds 4-7).

“It depends on how they test obviously; the Combine’s going to be important, their pro day is important. Richardson certainly had a big year along the defensive line. They’ve got players on both sides of the ball.

“Leidner I’m not as high on maybe as you thought you would be when you started back in August. I think he’s more of a late-round guy.”

Kiper did say it would help Leidner to go to the Senior Bowl, with that week of practices before NFL talent evaluators. Leidner and Pirsig have accepted invitations to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (Jan. 21 in Los Angeles). Myrick has accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Game (Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.), and senior DE Hank Ekpe has accepted an invite to the Tropical Bowl (mid-January in Daytona, Beach, Fla.).

Holiday Bowl official: 'We actually felt like we got a steal with the Gophers'

Holiday Bowl committee member Rob Beathard said he thinks this year’s Gophers/Washington State matchup could produce another one of those “high-scoring barn burner-type games.”

The bowl has delivered its share of classics, including the 1980 Holiday Bowl, when Jim McMahon helped BYU erase a 20-point deficit over the final two minutes in a 46-45 victory over Eric Dickerson, Craig James and SMU.

Two years ago, USC edged Nebraska 45-42, and last year, Wisconsin got a late field goal to defeat USC 23-21.

“The Gophers stood out to us from a football perspective because of how balanced they are,” Beathard said in a telephone interview this week. “You look at their 8-4 record, and three of the losses were one-score games. If a play or two goes the other way, you’re looking at totally different postseason implications.

“We actually felt like we got a steal with the Gophers, and Washington State has that electric offense.”

Beathard noted that it was “50 degrees warmer” in San Diego, as he was talking. He mentioned the beaches, the “World Famous San Diego Zoo,” Sea World and the area’s 80 golf courses as other attractions Minnesota fans could take in while visiting.

He also said San Diego is “one of the micro-brew capitals of America,” noting that there will be food trucks and micro brews available as part of the pregame tailgate experience at Qualcomm Stadium.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    6 pm

  • Edmonton at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Georgia Southern at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    2 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Jacksonville

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Gophers women's basketball at South Carolina

    2 pm on SECN, 88.5-FM

  • Northern Illinois at Gophers men's basketball

    4 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    5 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Golden State at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Florida at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Chicago

    7 pm on ESPN, 830-AM

  • Belmont at Gophers women's basketball

    12 pm on 88.5-FM

  • LIU Brooklyn at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • Wild at Nashville

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

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  • Orlando



    - F



  • Toronto



    - 4th, 9:11



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  • Atlanta



    - 3rd, 8:49



  • Detroit



    - H



  • Houston

    Oklahoma City


    - H



  • Indiana



    - 2nd, 4:47



  • New York


    9:30 PM

  • Phoenix

    LA Lakers

    9:30 PM


  • Washington



    - 3rd, 7:57



  • Columbus



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    New Jersey


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  • Edmonton



    - 2nd, 11:30



  • NY Rangers



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  • San Jose


    9:00 PM

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