MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When the NFL draft takes place this week, a few prospects with Minnesota ties could hear their names called – possibly even in the first round.
Two of the draft’s top edge rushers and a massive offensive lineman have roots in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Last year, a native Minnesotan went third overall to the San Francisco 49ers. Quarterback Trey Lance grew up in Marshall and played college ball at North Dakota State University. Later in the first round, University of Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
Here are some of the hometown kids who could be NFL players by the end of the week:
Jermaine Johnson II
Johnson is likely to be the highest drafted player with Minnesota ties. The defensive end grew up in Eden Prairie, and played for Eden Prairie High School.
He started at a junior college before transferring to Georgia and then Florida State. At FSU, he had 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 12 games.
In CBS Sports’ latest round of mock drafts, all five experts have him going in the top 15, and two of them project he’ll be a top-five pick.
Like Johnson, Mafe grew up in Minnesota, playing high school football for Hopkins. Unlike Johnson, he decided to stay home and play for the University of Minnesota.
Mafe was a four-year player for the Gophers, earning 15 total sacks – seven of them in his senior season.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end is seen as a fringe first-round pick. CBS Sports ranks him as the 24th-best prospect in the draft.
They don’t make offensive lineman much bigger than Faalele, another four-year player for the University of Minnesota. The Australian-born tackle stands at 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 380 pounds.
He started 31 games for the Gophers and made the AP All-Big Ten Second Team after the 2021 season.
CBS Sports ranks Faalele as the ninth-best offensive lineman in the draft, and the 38th-best overall player. While not expected to be a first-round pick, Faalele should hear his name called early on day two of the draft.
The first round of the draft starts at 7 p.m. Thursday.