Record Number of Gophers Selected in NFL Draft
Minneapolis (gophersports.com) - Minnesota set a school record with five players taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The five players are the most for the Gophers in the modern-day NFL Draft, which features seven rounds. Minnesota last had five players drafted in 1990, but that is when the draft had 12 rounds.
Drafted this year were Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyler Johnson, Kamal Martin, Carter Coughlin and Chris Williamson. Winfield and Johnson were selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Coughlin and Williamson were drafted by the New York Giants. Martin was taken by the Green Bay Packers.
Winfield, who was a Unanimous All-American, was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round with the 45th overall pick.
Winfield was named All-Big Ten First Team and was also the Big Ten's Defensive Back of the Year after recording 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He also tied a school modern-era, single-season record with seven interceptions in 2019 en route to being named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is presented to the best defensive player in the nation.
Winfield recorded 177 tackles in his career and also scored three touchdowns, as he returned two interceptions for scores and also returned a punt for a touchdown. He finished his career with seven tackles for loss and four sacks. The ball found Winfield often as he had nine career interceptions, recovered three fumbles and blocked one field goal.
Johnson, who is the most prolific receiver in Minnesota history, was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fifth round with the 161st pick.
He played in 49 games and made 213 career catches (second in school history) for 3,305 yards (first in school history) and 33 touchdowns (first in school history). Johnson caught a pass in 36 straight games, which is the second longest streak in school history and had a school-record 16 career 100-yard games. His seven 100-yard receiving games in 2019 were also a school record and he tied a school record in 2018 with four straight 100-yard receiving games (first Gopher ever to notch four consecutive 100-yard receiving games in conference play). He had three career games (2019 Georgia Southern, 2018 Miami, Ohio and 2017 Michigan State) with three receiving touchdowns, which is a school record.
In 2019, Johnson set single-season school records in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,318) and receiving touchdowns (13). He averaged 101.4 receiving yards per game and caught a touchdown in the final seven games of the season. In 2018, Johnson made 78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson is the only receiver in school history to have two 1,000 yard seasons and was named All-Big Ten First Team in 2018 and 2019.
Johnson's final collegiate game was played in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium, which is home to the Buccaneers. Johnson torched Auburn's defense with 12 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns as he was named Outback Bowl MVP.
Martin heads to Green Bay after being drafted in the fifth round with the 175th pick. He ended his standout career at Minnesota where he recorded 177 tackles (106 solo) and made 13 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Martin broke up nine passes, tallied four interceptions, forced four fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
Martin missed five games with an injury in 2019, but made 66 tackles in eight games and led the team with an average of 8.25 tackles per game. He also made 2.5 tackles for loss, made one sack, forced two fumbles and made two interceptions.
Coughlin was taken in the seventh round with the 218th overall pick, while Williamson was selected at No. 247.
Coughlin was named All-Big Ten Second Team in 2018 and 2019 and finished his career with 159 tackles. He is third all-time in school history with 22.5 career sacks and is fourth in school history with 40 tackles for loss. He also forced seven fumbles and recovered one in his career.
Coughlin started all 13 games last season and recorded 49 tackles, including a team leading 9.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble as well.
Williamson transferred to Minnesota from Florida and played two years for the Gophers after sitting out the 2017 season. He played in 24 career games and made 91 tackles (58 solo), which included 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Williamson added two interceptions, broke up nine more and forced one fumble as a Gopher.