Two Gophers defensive backs drafted in fifth round; others sign as UDFAs
Former Gophers defensive backs Jordan Howden and Terell Smith were selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
Howden is headed to New Orleans after the Saints used the 146th overall pick, and 19 picks later the Bears took Smith at 165th overall. They're the second and third ex-Gophers players drafted this week following center John Michael Schmitz, who was a second-round pick by the Giants on Friday night.
Howden was a preferred walk-on who developed into a five-year starter and team captain for the Gophers secondary. During the NFL Scouting Combine, Howden said he leans on support from his father, Ramsese, a former cornerback at Grambling State, and his cousin, Saladin Martin, played three years in the NFL.
Smith, the former three-star recruit, burst onto the scene at Minnesota with eight deflections as a freshman in 2018. He continued to ascend as a four-year starter, landing on pro radars with NFL-coveted size (6 feet, 204 pounds) and speed (4.41-seconds in the 40-yard dash). He's the second cornerback drafted by the Bears, after Miami's Tyrique Stevenson was taken in the second round.
The Gophers also had two defensive backs drafted in 2020 when safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (45th overall) and cornerback Chris Williamson (247th) were taken by the Bucs and Giants.
The Colts selected former Maple Grove High School star Evan Hull, the Northwestern running back. Hull was taken at the end of the fifth round (176th overall). He tested well at the combine, ranking seventh among running backs with a 4.47-second 40-yard dash. He was also a productive receiving back with 55 catches for 546 yards last season.
At least four former Gophers agreed to undrafted deals on Saturday, according to the university: running back Mohamed Ibrahim (Lions), quarterback Tanner Morgan (Steelers), defensive lineman Thomas Rush (Titans), and guard Chuck Filiaga (Packers).
Ibrahim's 20 rushing touchdowns last season tied Pittsburgh's Israel Abanikanda for the nation's lead. He ranked third with 1,665 rushing yards. Abanikanda was drafted in the fifth round (143rd overall) by the Jets on Saturday.
The Packers also agreed to sign Benny Sapp III, the former Eden Prairie, Gophers and Northern Iowa defensive back who is the son of former Vikings defensive back Benny Sapp.
Other undrafted local players include Minnesota Duluth offensive tackle Brent Laing, Minnesota State Mankato receiver Jalen Sample and North Dakota State tight end Noah Gindorff of Crosby, Minn.
Star Tribune writer Randy Johnson contributed to this report.