Gophers’ star rush end Boye Mafe goes No. 40 overall in NFL Draft to Seahawks

Quarterback Jarret Doege #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers is sacked by defensive lineman Boye Mafe #34 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field on December 28, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.  ((Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images))

University of Minnesota rush end Boye Mafe has been a star for the Gophers the last two seasons. Now, he’s taking his talents to the NFL.

Mafe realized a life-long dream Friday night. The Golden Valley native became a second round pick in the NFL Draft, taken with the No. 40 overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks. Mafe joins the likes of former Gophers Antoine Winfield Jr. in 2020, Ra'Shede Hageman in 2014 and Maxx Williams in 2015. 

"It’s something you dream about," Mafe told FOX 9’s Hobie Artigue last week as he continued to prepare for the NFL Draft. "To be in this situation is definitely different."

Had he been picked Thursday night, Mafe would've been the first Gophers’ first-round draft choice since receiver Rashod Bateman last year. He went to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 27 overall. Mafe becomes the program’s seventh defensive player taken in the NFL Draft since 2019. The Gophers haven't had a defensive player drafted in the first round since defensive back Willie Middlebrooks went No. 24 overall to the Denver Broncos in 2001. That trend will continue to next year.

The 6-4, 265-pound rush end is an athletic freak. In nine starts last season, Mafe finished with 34 tackles, and led the Gophers’ defense with seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss. In 42 career games, Mafe had 87 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and is tied for ninth in program history with 15 sacks. He also has three fumbles and three pass break-ups.

Mafe had a standout Senior Bowl and was named a Defensive Player of the Game. He also had standout performances at the NFL Combine, and at his Pro Day on the University of Minnesota campus.

He’ll have company among Gophers in the NFL Draft this weekend. Offensive tackle Daniel Faalele is expected to be drafted in the second or third round.