Pro prospects mixed for Gophers players

A few of the team’s former players are likely to be taken in the NFL Draft.

Left to right, Peter Mortell, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, KJ Maye, De'Vondre Campbell and Eric Murray.

Liam James Doyle and Melissa Scharf, Daily File Photo

Left to right, Peter Mortell, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, KJ Maye, De’Vondre Campbell and Eric Murray.

Mike Hendrickson

The Gophers had four players selected in last year’s NFL Draft, the most for the program since 2006.
 
 
Three former Minnesota players have a good chance of being taken in this year’s draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday, and a few more could sign free agent deals after teams make their selections.
 
 
Below is a look at the Gophers NFL hopefuls and where analysts project them to go in the draft.
 
 
Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell
 
 
Campbell finished with a team-high four sacks as a senior and had the third-most tackles with 92. He also made double-digit tackles in three consecutive games and was an All-Big Ten honorable mention.
 
 
The Fort Myers, Fla., native’s size and athleticism also mean he still has plenty of potential. 
 
 
He is listed at 6 feet, 4 inches and 232 pounds, and his 4.58-second 40-yard dash time was third among linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
 
 
Draft Grade
 
NFL.com: Rounds 5 or 6
 
CBS: Rounds 5 or 6
 
Bleacher Report: Round 4
 
 
What they’re saying
 
 
“Campbell looks like he was built with a NFL starter kit due to his tall, well-built frame and the athleticism to play downhill or cover in space … but his inconsistent diagnose skills during live game action will be the key to whether or not Campbell is a future NFL starter or a simply a backup.” – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
 
 
Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun
 
 
Boddy-Calhoun was one of the members of a very talented Minnesota secondary last season. The cornerback had four interceptions as a redshirt senior, including a pick-six against Wisconsin.
 
 
Boddy-Calhoun, who transferred to Minnesota from Coffeyville Community College, was on the media’s All-Big Ten First and Third teams as a redshirt junior and senior.
 
 
His play did drop a little last year as he battled through a knee injury. 
 
 
His 5-foot-9-inch frame isn’t ideal by NFL standards, but he’s been an important part of the Gophers strong passing defense.
 
 
Draft Grade
 
 
NFL.com: Rounds 7 or FA
 
CBS: Rounds 7 or FA
 
Bleacher Report: Round 7
 
 
What they’re saying: 
 
 
“[Boddy-Calhoun] has quick feet and can explode out of press coverage to a run situation down the field. Short, but not small, Boddy-Calhoun … can too easily get pressed off the line by wide receivers and doesn’t slide through blocks to attack the ball on slip screens or when the run comes his way.” – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report 
 
 
Cornerback Eric Murray
 
 
Murray was Minnesota’s top defensive player in 2015, and head coach Tracy Claeys said in December he was “the best overall player” he’s ever coached.
 
 
Murray never missed a game or practice in his four years with the Gophers and was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team by coaches and media last season.
 
 
He has a strong chance to be the first Minnesota player taken.
 
 
Draft Grade
 
 
NFL.com: Round 5
 
CBS: Round 5
 
Bleacher Report: Round 3
 
 
What they’re saying
 
 
“Too small to play outside, but has enough cover skills and toughness against the run to make it in the league as a slot cornerback … Murray’s instincts and vision serve him well in zone coverage, which might be where he is at his best.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
 
 
Other NFL hopefuls
 
 
Wide receiver KJ Maye and punter Peter Mortell are not expected to be draft picks, but both may get the chance to compete for an NFL roster spot.
 
 
Maye caught 73 passes in his final college season for 773 yards and competed at the Senior Bowl in January. 
 
 
He said at Minnesota’s pro day that he had workouts with multiple NFL teams.
 
 
Mortell finished his college career with an average punt distance of 44 yards, the best in Gophers history. 
 
 
Few specialists are drafted, so Mortell will likely wait for offers after the draft concludes.