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How will Minnesota be represented in the NFL draft?

Beyond former Gopher safety Tyler Nubin, who might be the first safety taken, several players from Minnesota colleges and high schools are hoping to catch the NFL's attention during the draft, which begins Thursday. Here are some names to know:

OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame: A Totino-Grace product, Alt is frequently projected as a top-10 draft pick after a stellar three-year run for the Fighting Irish that ended with an All-America selection. He's the latest Alt headed to the NFL after his father, John, was a 1984 first-round pick and 2002 Chiefs Hall of Honor member. At the NFL scouting combine, Alt said he met with many teams, including those with top-10 picks such as the Patriots, Titans and Jets. He's expected to be the first player with Minnesota ties selected in the draft.

TE Brevyn Spann-Ford, Gophers: Spann-Ford was once a three-star recruit out of St. Cloud Tech, arriving in college as a lanky receiver. He developed into a 260-pound tight end well-equipped to do the blocking required for a run-heavy Gophers offense. His career-high 42 catches for 497 yards and two scores came in 2022. He said he grew up a Vikings fan and wouldn't mind staying home. "It would definitely be a dream come true," Spann-Ford said at the combine. "I've gotten to meet with them a couple times, at the Senior Bowl."

WR Chris Autman-Bell, Gophers: Autman-Bell played seven years at the University of Minnesota, returning last fall through an injury waiver because of a 2022 knee injury. He didn't have much of a role through nine games. He recently ran routes in front of NFL scouts. "It was amazing. I just felt good, flying around and being in my second home," Autman-Bell said at Gophers pro day in March. "It was great, moving around and showing everyone that I can still be 'Crab.'"

CB Trey Vaval, Minnesota State Mankato: Vaval (listed 6-foot, 170 pounds by his college) also ran through drills in front of scouts at Gophers pro day in March. A native of Blue Springs, Mo., a Kansas City suburb, he was also among 33 local prospects hosted by the Chiefs during their visit with area prospects. Vaval was a standout kickoff and punt returner at Missouri Western before playing the past two years in Mankato, where he was also a sprinter on the track team.

DT Kyler Baugh, Gophers: Baugh showed off his strength and explosion at Gophers pro day, leading the day with 34 reps of a 225-pound bench press. That tied for second among all prospects at the combine. He also had a 33.5-inch vertical jump, which would have tied for the best among defensive tackles. That combination of strength and athleticism typically gets chances in training camps.

WR Corey Crooms Jr., Gophers: Crooms transferred from Western Michigan and caught 28 passes for 376 yards in his only Gophers season last fall. The Chicago-area native was among over 40 local prospects invited to the Bears' facility this offseason during their local-day visit.