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Gophers end long draft drought with O-lineman Daniel Faalele picked by Ravens

With Daniel Faalele being picked in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, Minnesota’s 16-year lull without having an offensive lineman selected has come to an end

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Offensive lineman Daniel Faalele ran during a three-cone drill during the Gophers annual pro day before NFL scouts on March 16.
David Joles, Star Tribune/TNS
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The Gophers’ long draft drought is over.

With Daniel Faalele being picked in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, Minnesota’s 16-year lull without having an offensive lineman selected has come to an end. Fellow Division I programs can no longer hold this fact over the Gophers’ head on the recruiting trail.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck gave a dramatic sigh over the dearth coming to an end Saturday. “Finally,” he said.

The 6-foot-8, 380-pound tackle did slide from the draft’s second and third rounds on Friday to the draft’s final day, taken off the board by the Baltimore Ravens with the 110th overall selection.

In Baltimore, Faalele will reunite with former U receiver Rashod Bateman, who was the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2021. They were highly regarded recruits in Minnesota’s 2018 recruiting class.

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The Gophers’ last offensive linemen selected were center Greg Eslinger and tackle Mark Setterstrom, both in 2006. Eslinger was taken in the sixth round by Denver Broncos, and Setterstrom went in the seventh round to the St. Louis Rams.

Faalele also represents the highest Minnesota O-line draft pick since center Brian Williams went in the first round in 1989.

Two other Gophers were selected Saturday.

Defensive end Esezi Otomewo was picked in the fifth round (165th overall) by the Vikings. The Indianapolis native is the first U player to be drafted by the Vikings since linebacker Nate Triplett in 2010.

Tight end Ko Kieft was taken in the sixth round (218th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Sioux City, Iowa, native will be reunited with former U players Antoine Winfield Jr. and Tyler Johnson in Tampa Bay.

“I will get down and dirty with the worst of ’em,” Kieft said in a media availability. “That’s my role. That is what I love to do. But when given the opportunity to run routes, catch the football, I’m efficient and can help the team.”

BRIEFLY

Linebacker Jack Gibbens signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans; offensive lineman Blaise Andries was headed to the Miami Dolphins; O-lineman Sam Schlueter is going to the San Francisco 49ers; and defensive lineman Micah Dew-Treadway said he was going to the Chicago Bears.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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