Sep. 5—A record 16 players either from South Dakota or South Dakota colleges played in an NFL game last year. A 17th spent time on a roster without getting into a game.
With just one addition and a few subtractions, that number will be smaller in 2023, but the Mount Rushmore State is still going to make an impact in the league this season.
Tom Compton, Matt Farniok, Don Gardner, Chris Streveler, Nate Gerry and Derrek Tuszka all played last year and are currently free agents. Gardner, a former SDSU cornerback, was cut by Tampa Bay due to injury and could re-sign or join a practice squad when healthy. Farniok, a former Washington Warrior who played in seven games with two starts for the Cowboys last year, seems like a good candidate to eventually be signed midseason when teams begin dealing with injuries.
In the meantime, here's everyone from South Dakota who's in the employ of an NFL team as the season dawns.
Kameron Cline, DT, Buffalo Bills (USD)
Cline spent most of last year on the Colts practice squad but did appear in three games. Now he's on the practice squad for Buffalo, waiting for another chance.
Played 15 games for the Chiefs on special teams last year after signing as an undrafted free agent and ultimately earned a Super Bowl ring. He's back looking to expand his role in 2023.
The former NSIC sack leader had 31 tackles, a sack and an interception for the Cards last year. He's been a captain and Pro Bowl alternate for Arizona.
Injuries cost him five games last year but Goedert continues to be one of the league's top tight ends when healthy. He caught 55 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns last year.
CJ Ham, FB, Minnesota Vikings (Augustana)
Played in all 17 games for the Vikings last year, and indications are Kevin O'Connell intends to make greater use of the former Pro Bowler in his second season as coach. Ham had two touchdowns and 10 receptions last year.
Cade Johnson, WR, Seattle Seahawks (SDSU)
After making his NFL debut last year with two receptions in the regular season finale Johnson failed to make the Seahawks' 53-man roster but was signed to their practice squad where he will again wait his opportunity to join the active roster and contribute offensively.
The third round pick will make his NFL debut this season and look to eventually take his place alongside Goedert as one of the best tight ends in the league.
Chris Oladokun, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (SDSU)
A 7th-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2022 Oladokun eventually wound up on the Chiefs practice squad where he spent all of last year, and after a strong preseason this year the champs are bringing him back to that same role in 2023.
After three rocky seasons Pipkins came into his own last year with his best season as a pro. He'll look to build on that in his fifth year after being a surprise 3rd round pick in 2019.
The 12th year pro made the Pats roster but was then placed on injured reserve, where he'll have to spend at least the first four games of the season. Played 10 games for the Bears last year.
After two years as a special teams ace Rozeboom's chance to be a defensive playmaker has arrived. He's slated to be one of the Rams starting inside linebackers in their 3-4 scheme. Played in all 17 games last year and made eight tackles.
Pierre Strong, RB, Cleveland Browns (SDSU)
After the Patriots signed Ezekiel Elliott in the offseason their 2022 4th-round pick became expendable, so they shipped him to the Browns where he'll hope for a greater opportunity. Strong rushed for 100 yards on 10 carries last year as a rookie.