Three former Gophers will be at the NFL combine this week, each with a different outlook heading into the draft, which begins on April 30. Maxx Williams has a strong chance to get drafted on Day 1 (first round), David Cobb could get picked on Day 2 (rounds 2-3), and Damien Wilson could go on Day 3 (rounds 4-7). A closer look:
Tight end • 6-4, 250 pounds
Draft prospects: There’s a reason Williams left school after his redshirt sophomore season, the first chance he got. Several, including NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., have since listed him as the No. 1 tight end available.
Quote: “I was talking to a GM earlier in the year and he compared [Williams] to Greg Olsen, who was drafted by the Bears [No. 31 overall in 2007] and is now with Carolina,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said. “He’s got the size — 6-4, 250-ish — averaged 16 yards a catch, good hands, adequate blocker, can improve in that area. But I see speed on the field. He’s the only [tight end in this class] to me that can really stretch the field and consistently makes plays.”
Running back • 5-11, 229 pounds
Draft prospects: Teams have shied from taking running backs in the first round, and this is a deep running back class. So teams can be patient, knowing there will be good ones available late in the draft. Kiper ranks Cobb as the No. 8 running back on the board, and CBSSports.com ranks him as the No. 9 running back.
Quote: “I want to be the best at everything I do,” Cobb said. “It’s not about getting those headlines or being on magazines, but anywhere I go, against anybody, I’m going to compete. And no matter who’s there, I want to walk off that field being the best. If one person knows or 100 people know, I don’t care, as long as I know it.”
Linebacker • 6-2, 240 pounds
Draft prospects: Wilson shed 10 pounds before his senior season and was noticeably quicker. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and ranked third in the conference with 9.2 tackles per game. Wilson’s invitation to the combine is proof he’s on scouts’ radar, but he might need a good showing to ensure himself of being one of the 224 players drafted in those seven rounds. ESPN.com has Wilson ranked 202nd overall, and 12th among inside linebackers. CBSSports.com has Wilson ranked 376th overall and 19th among inside linebackers.
Quote: “If somebody asks me what separates me from the other linebackers, I’d probably have to tell them it’s not athletic ability, but [playmaking ability],” Wilson said.