Willie Middlebrooks, defensive end Karon Riley, center Ben Hamilton and tackle Adam Haayer are the newest Golden Gophers to reach the professional ranks. Defensive tackle John Schlecht and safety Delvin Jones signed free agent contracts on Monday.
Middlebrooks became the first Golden Gopher to be taken in the first round since 1990 when Darrell Thompson was selected by the Green Bay Packers. Middlebrooks, a 2000 first team All-Big Ten selection, was taken with the 24th pick by the Denver Broncos. He will play for former Minnesota defensive coordinator David Gibbs, who was recently hired as the defensive secondary coach with the Broncos. Middlebrooks was the only Golden Gopher taken on Saturday, the first day of the draft.
On Sunday, Riley, a two-time All-Big Ten selection and Minnesota's all-time leader in sacks, was chosen by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round with the 103rd overall pick. Just ten selections later, Hamilton, a two-time All-American, was also taken by the Broncos with the 113th pick in the fourth round.
Haayer was the last Golden Gopher selected by Tennessee in the sixth round with the 199th overall selection.
Two Golden Gophers signed free agent contracts on Monday. Defensive tackle John Schlecht inked with the San Francisco 49ers and safety Delvin Jones signed with the New York Giants. With the free agenst signings, 18 former Minnesota football players are currently playing the NFL.