4 Gophers football players get invites to NFL Scouting Combine

Offensive lineman Daniel Faalele #78 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers reacts after scoring on a two-yard rushing touchdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field on December 28, 2021 in ((Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images))

The University of Minnesota football team, coming off a 9-4 season after beating West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, will be well-represented next month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Four Gophers are among the 324 total players to receive invites. They include rush end Boye Mafe, defensive end Esezi Otomewo and offensive linemen Daniel Faalele and Blaise Andries.

Mafe is coming off a standout performance at the Senior Bowl that turned heads among NFL scouts in attendance. He had three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble, and was named the National Team’s Player of the Game. Mafe also had a standout senior season for the Gophers, earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 with 34 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks and one forced fumble.

In 42 career games at Minnesota, Mafe had 87 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, which ranks ninth in program history. He forced three fumbles and broke up three passes with the Gophers.

Otomewo had 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 13 games this season.

Faalele and Andries were veterans on an offensive line that led the Gophers to the No. 3 rushing offense in the Big Ten, at 198 yards per game. That’s despite losing Mo Ibrahim, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams to season-ending injuries.

Faalele was a First Team All-Big Ten pick in 2021 and started 31 of his 34 career games at Minnesota. The Gophers were 23-11 in his career. The Gophers have not had an offensive lineman drafted since Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom in 2006. That will change at the NFL Draft in April, at the very least with Faalele.

Mafe and Faalele are each projected as high picks, potentially in the first or second round.

The NFL Combine is scheduled for March 1-7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Gophers will also host their annual Pro Day on March 16.