Minnesota Golden Gophers' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

Written by:
February 24, 2022
Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

Minnesota Golden Gophers' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the Minnesota Golden Gophers using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Tom MacLeod (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #74 overall in 1973
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#19. Benjamin St-Juste (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #74 overall in 2021
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#18. Jim Carter (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #68 overall in 1970
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (1 Pro Bowls)

#17. Keith Simons (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #63 overall in 1976
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Bart Buetow (T)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #59 overall in 1972
- Drafted by: Minnesota Vikings
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#15. Chip Lohmiller (K)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #55 overall in 1988
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. Maxx Williams (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #55 overall in 2015
- Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Antoine Winfield Jr. (S)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #45 overall in 2020
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Ray Parson (T)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #45 overall in 1970
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#11. Steve Stewart (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #43 overall in 1978
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#10. Ra'Shede Hageman (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #37 overall in 2014
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Keith Fahnhorst (T)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #35 overall in 1974
- Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 10 (1 Pro Bowls)

#8. Mike Hunt (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #34 overall in 1978
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#7. Mark Merrill (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #31 overall in 1978
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#6. Marion Barber Jr. (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #30 overall in 1981
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Rashod Bateman (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #27 overall in 2021
- Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#4. Willie Middlebrooks (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #24 overall in 2001
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#3. Laurence Maroney (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #21 overall in 2006
- Drafted by: New England Patriots
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#2. Darrell Thompson (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #19 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#1. Brian Williams (C)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #18 overall in 1989
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

Trending Now