Minnesota Golden Gophers
2020 NFL Draft Prospects
Thomas Barber, ILB
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 115 tackles (10.5 for loss) with three forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2017. Made 66 tackles (five for loss) as a senior. Posted 81 tackles (four for loss) as a junior.
Positives: Tough, instinctive linebacker with good bloodlines. Efficient, takes good angles to the play, and leads by example. Plays faster than his 40 time and quickly collapses outside against the run. Hard-hitting linebacker who goes after opponents. Efficient, remains disciplined with assignments and shows ability in zone coverage.
Negatives: Average athlete who lacks next-level size and speed. Has small arms and hands.
Analysis: Barber comes from a football family and it shows on the field, where he’s constantly around the action and makes positive plays. He comes with limited speed and athleticism, which could leave him on the outside looking in next summer.
Shannon Brooks, RB
Career Snapshot: Rotational back who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and set career highs with 709 rushing yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman in 2015. Missed nine games over the next two seasons with various ailments, including an ankle injury and a concussion. Tore his left ACL early in 2018 and returned to play one game before he suffered a season-ending right knee injury, which also cost him the first three games of the 2019 season.
Positives: Nice-sized running back with solid size and speed. Helps the quarterback sell ball fakes, picks up blocking assignments and makes a lot of positive plays based on football intelligence. Displays outstanding vision, patiently waits for blocks to develop and effectively uses them everywhere. Finds the cutback lanes and quickly gets through the hole. Works runs and tries to get as much from every carry as possible.
Negatives: One-speed back with a limited burst who plays slower than his 40 time. Struggled to see the field after a terrific freshman campaign in 2015.
Analysis: Brooks looks the part and has been productive whenever the ball is in his hands, but he struggled to see action due to the running back depth at Minnesota. He’s unlikely to be drafted, but if he pulls the pieces together during camp this summer and shows consistent productivity, he could be a surprise free-agent signing.
Carter Coughlin, OLB
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final two seasons at Minnesota. Made 48 tackles and set career highs with 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a junior in 2018. Made 49 tackles (9.5 for loss) with 4.5 sacks in 2019. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and posted 37 tackles (11.5 for loss) with 6.5 sacks as a sophomore.
Positives: Hard-working 3-4 outside linebacker who gets the most from his ability. Plays physical, heads-up football and is constantly around the ball. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and keeps his feet moving. Quick off the snap and shows the ability to get into space and make plays. Fluidly changes direction.
Negatives: Easily knocked to the ground or taken from the action by a single block.
Analysis: Coughlin was a consistent defender at the college level, but he lacks the size and speed for the NFL. He could have a home as a pass-rush specialist at outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment, but Coughlin is someone who must make his mark on special teams.
Tyler Johnson, WR
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who earned First Team All-Big Ten honors, led the conference with 1,316 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches and tied for the conference lead with 86 receptions as a senior in 2019. Earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors and tied for the conference lead with 12 touchdown receptions as a junior. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and caught 35 passes for 677 yards and seven TDs as a sophomore.
Positives: Much-debated receiver who’s a terrific football player. Displays focus, concentration and outstanding hand-eye coordination. Plays with balance, body control and toughness. Sacrifices his body to come away with the difficult reception. Displays soft and strong hands and the ability to pluck the ball from the air. Comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, extends his hands and makes the reception away from his frame. Exposes himself to the big hit in order to come away with the catch. Leads by example on the field. Displays sharpness into routes and stays low on exit. Makes the difficult reception with defenders draped on his back and often comes away with acrobatic catches.
Negatives: Possesses average size, speed and quickness. Unnecessarily leaves his feet at times. Possesses short arms and small hands. May not be able to handle a complex offense.
Analysis: On film, Johnson presents himself as a terrific wideout who many believe should be a second-day selection. Despite this, he lacks the physical skills that warrant a top-100 ranking. Johnson could be a productive wideout in the right system at the next level. Jjust because he may not be selected early in the 2020 draft does not mean he will not have a productive NFL career.
Kamal Martin, OLB
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 66 tackles (2.5 for loss) with two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a senior in 2019. Suspended for two games, the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl and the 2019 season opener, due to a violation of team rules and missed two games with a knee injury and one game with a foot sprain in 2019.
Positives: Athletic run-and-chase linebacker with terrific size and speed. Fluidly moves in every direction, gets excellent depth on pass drops and covers a good amount of area on the field. Immediately alters his angle of attack, has a quick closing burst and flows well laterally. Very active against the run and effectively makes plays in space. Breaks down well and sells out on the blitz.
Negatives: Struggles to get off blocks despite his size. Moderately productive in college and never produced eye-popping numbers.
Analysis: Martin is an athletic linebacker prospect with a developing three-down game. He plays intense football, comes with high upside and will be a solid day three pick who could eventually develop into a starter in the NFL.
Sam Renner, DE
Career Snapshot: First-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 43 tackles (8.5 for loss) with a team-leading five sacks and four pass breakups as a senior in 2019.
Positives: Tough, explosive defensive lineman who is technically sound, plays with proper pad level, and shows a variety of moves to get off blocks. Intelligent, quickly locates the ball and works hard to make plays. Solid first step off the snap.
Negatives: Lacks overall strength and gets controlled at the point by opponents. More of a first-step lineman. Lacks pursuit speed. Limited athleticism and upside.
Analysis: Renner is an overachiever who gets the most from his ability and is a solid technician who plays smart, tough football. He has a long build and must physically mature, but his approach to the game and ability to produce could help him find a spot on an NFL roster as an eighth defensive lineman.
Rodney Smith, RB
Career Snapshot: Four-year starter who earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors and rushed 228 times for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior in 2019. Tore his ACL after two games in 2018 and received a medical redshirt. Earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors, carried 240 times for 1,158 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 23 passes for 188 yards as a sophomore in 2016. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and rushed for 977 yards and three TDs on 229 carries in 2017.
Positives: Well-rounded ball carrier who did a terrific job last season after an injury kept him on the sidelines in 2018. Displays terrific vision, works runs, and will pick and choose his way through the trash. Resilient, keeps his feet moving and uses an effective straight arm to keep runs alive. Shows patience as a ball carrier. Effective as a receiver out of the backfield and extends to snatch the ball away from his frame.
Negatives: Doesn’t make defenders miss. One-speed running back who cannot beat defenders into the open field or turn the corner. Lacks strength and gets brought down in the open field by a single defender.
Analysis: Smith was consistently productive at the college level and though he lacks great size and speed, he could make an NFL roster as a third-down back and situational runner.
Chris Williamson, CB
Career Snapshot: Transfer from Florida who started his final season at Minnesota. Made 56 tackles (four for loss) with 2.5 sacks, one interception and three pass breakups as a senior in 2019.
Positives: Nice-sized defensive back who displays a physical nature, mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, and fires up the field against the run. Instinctive and quick to read and diagnose. Terrific in zone coverage, plays with great explosion and shows some suddenness. Stays with assignments and displays good route recognition. Shows a terrific burst of closing and recovery speed and plays to his 40 time.
Negatives: Late out of his transition. Showed a bit of indecision last season and was beaten often during Shrine Bowl practices. Comes off a disappointing season.
Analysis: I graded Williamson as a potential early day three pick coming into the season, but he did not live up to expectations after he was moved around the secondary at Minnesota. He possesses the size and speed and previously showed enough skill to get consideration as a nickel or dime back at the next level, but Williamson must quickly get his game back together.
Antoine Winfield Jr, S
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who was named First Team All-America and made 88 tackles (3.5 for loss) with three sacks and a conference-best seven interceptions as a sophomore in 2019. Suffered a season-ending foot injury that required surgery after four games in 2018, one year after he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury after four games in 2017. Started nine games as a true freshman and made 52 tackles (2.5 for loss) with one interception and three pass breakups.
Positives: Athletic, instinctive defensive back with great bloodlines. Quick to read and diagnose, remains disciplined with assignments, and plays aggressive football. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself, and shows the ability to shed blocks. Works hard to defend the run, displays a great closing burst to the action and wraps up tackling. Fluidly flips his hips in transition and loses nothing when he turns to run with opponents. Constantly around the action. Possesses a great head for the ball, quickly picks up coverage assignments, and immediately tracks the pass in the air. Looks like a receiver in the secondary the way he plays the ball. Sacrifices his body to make plays and has a vicious attitude.
Negatives: Must play a little more under control. Seems to get too excited and takes himself from the action. Lack of height will be an issue for some teams. Has a thin body of work and only played in eight games prior to 2019.
Analysis: Winfield’s production was off the charts last season, and he’s more than just an opportunistic defensive back; he’s a good football player with instincts and ball skills. His size and height limitations will depress his draft stock, but like his dad, he’s a very competitive defensive back with a bright NFL future.
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