Other local draft prospects
Besides Maxx Williams and David Cobb, here are local players hoping to hear their name called during this draft, or at least get an invite to an NFL rookie camp, listed alphabetically.
Cameron Botticelli, DT, Gophers, 6-5, 292 pounds
Botticelli walked on at Minnesota but wound up starting 47 games for the Gophers. He finished second on the team behind Wilson last season with nine tackles for loss. Botticelli won’t wow anyone with his speed, but the Gophers loved his toughness and intelligence. His law school plans are on hold so he can chase his NFL dream.
John Crockett, RB, Minneapolis, North Dakota State, 6-0, 217
Capped his career with the Bison by running for 1,994 yards and 21 touchdowns in a 16-game, 368-carry season. Had 4,309 yards rushing in final three seasons at NDSU, which won four consecutive FCS national titles. Projected as a late third-day pick, he’s been lauded for his confidence and tenaciousness. He had a strong week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game.
Zac Epping, G, Gophers, 6-2, 318 pounds
Epping started 47 consecutive games to finish his Gophers career and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season. Epping started a few games at center as a sophomore, and his versatility could come in handy in the pros. He doesn’t appear on most draft rankings but could get an invite to a rookie camp.
Cedric Thompson, S, Gophers, 6-0, 208 pounds
Thompson didn’t get a combine invite but turned heads at the Gophers pro day when he posted a 40.5-inch vertical and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. He was the captain on defense last year and ranked second on the team with 83 tackles. CBSSports.com ranks him as the 10th-best free safety in this draft and No. 252 overall player.
Derrick Wells, Gophers, S, 5-11, 204 pounds
After notching 74 tackles as a sophomore, Wells battled a severe shoulder injury in 2013 and couldn’t regain his prowess last season. He has played both safety and cornerback but will look to play free safety in the pros. He reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the Gophers pro day.
Damien Wilson, LB, Gophers, 6-0, 245 pounds
Wilson was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and ranked third in the conference with 9.2 tackles per game. He posted a 37-inch vertical at the NFL combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds. ESPN.com has him ranked as this draft’s eighth-best inside linebacker and No. 193 overall.
Zach Zenner, RB, Eagan, South Dakota State, 6-0, 220
Zenner was the first FCS back to run for more than 2,000 yards in three seasons. Finished 12 yards short of the FCS all-time rushing record. Ran for 202 yards against Nebraska as a junior. His size and speed project him as high as the fifth round.