NFL Draft: Handful of South Dakota hopefuls sign with clubs as rookie free agents

Tucker Kraft was only South Dakotan taken in 2023 draft

South Dakota State defensive tackle Caleb Sanders runs the 40-yard dash at Jackrabbit Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

MITCHELL — The NFL Draft concluded on Saturday, and while South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft ended up the only player from South Dakota to be taken, a handful of others were offered opportunities to pursue a spot on an NFL team after the draft concluded.

Seth Benson, a linebacker from Sioux Falls who starred at Washington High School and went on to enjoy an All-Big Ten career with the Iowa Hawkeyes, signed as a rookie free agent with the Denver Broncos, while former Watertown standout Spencer Waege, who led North Dakota State in sacks last year, signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

Offensive tackle Alex Jensen, a former All-Missouri Valley selection for the USD Coyotes, signed with the Miami Dolphins, while SDSU defensive tackle Caleb Sanders received a rookie minicamp invite from the New York Giants. Sanders had 6.5 sacks and 40 tackles for SDSU last year, helping the Jacks to a national championship.

And on Sunday afternoon, Augustana safety Eli Weber was also invited to the Giants rookie minicamp alongside Sanders. Weber was an All-NSIC performer with the Vikings and, like Sanders, had a strong showing at SDSU Pro Day, where more than 20 scouts were on hand to see Kraft.

A pair of USD specialists also got invitations, with kicker Eddie Ogamba getting an offer to tryout for the Baltimore Ravens and longsnapper Dalton Godfrey receiving a call from both the Las Vegas Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles.


While Kraft is assured of a roster spot with the Green Bay Packers, who selected the Timber Lake native in the third round, the others will be fighting for a roster spot or practice squad placement. They would join the still growing list of players from South Dakota or South Dakota colleges to play in the NFL. There were 17 such players on NFL rosters last year, 16 of whom saw action in at least one NFL game.

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, and began a long career in amateur baseball and sports reporting. Email Matt at
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