Gophers standout safety Cedric Thompson will be an interesting player to track Saturday, on the final day of the draft. And if he doesn't go by the seventh and final round, it won't take him long to get invited to an NFL rookie camp.

Anybody who's followed my Gophers coverage closely the past two-plus years can probably guess how I feel about Thompson. In my 20-plus years of sportswriting, he ranks right at the top of the people I've ever come across. The guess here is Thompson will get drafted Saturday. That might surprise some people because Thompson wasn't invited to the NFL combine, but he lit it up at the Gophers' pro day.

Compare to how the safeties fared at the NFL combine, from what I can gather, Thompson would have had the fastest 40-yard time, the highest vertical leap and tied for the most bench reps.

Last year, former Gophers safety Brock Vereen had his stock climb and wound up becoming a fourth-round pick by the Bears. Thompson might become the Gophers' next draft surprise.

Gridiron Gold: startribune.com/gophers