Zimmer: The best NFL Draft picks from South Dakota

From Mitchell's Ordell Braase to Mount Vernon's Chad Greenway, plenty of South Dakotans have made NFL teams happy for taking them in the draft

South Dakota State University's Dallas Goedert runs with the ball during the Jackrabbits' game against Illinois State on Nov. 11, 2017 at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Tucker Kraft is going to be the next player taken in the NFL Draft who either hails from South Dakota or played his college football there. It's a surprisingly lengthy list, even if you exclude the many players who were taken back when the draft had more than a dozen rounds.

With that being the case, there are too many to name them all. So this list is focused on which players were the best fits for the teams that drafted them.

Here are the ones that worked out the best for the players with South Dakota ties:

Ordell Braase, USD/Mitchell, 14th round, 1954, Baltimore Colts

The defensive end served three years in the US Army before joining the Colts in 1957, three years after he was drafted, and he quickly established himself as a player, eventually being a part of three NFL championships and going to two Pro Bowls in a 12-year career.


Tom Compton, USD, 6th round, 2012, Washington

A three-time all-conference blocker for the Coyotes in the early days of their Division I transition, Compton has carved out an 11-year career as occasional starter and reliable backup, playing for seven teams, including his home state Minnesota Vikings. Compton went to the Super Bowl with Atlanta in 2016.

Former USD Coyote Tom Compton has had a long career as an NFL offensive lineman. Dennis Wierzbicki / USA TODAY Sports
University of South Dakota alum Tom Compton, pictured here in 2017 with the Chicago Bears. Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today Sports

John Dutton, Rapid City, 1st round, 1974, Baltimore Colts

Dutton played college ball at Nebraska and then went on to a 14-year pro career, playing in three Pro Bowls. The RC Central grad led the NFL in sacks in 1975 and finished his career with the Cowboys.

Dallas Goedert, SDSU/Britton, 2nd round, 2018, Philadelphia Eagles

The first offensive player from SDSU's Division I era to be drafted, Goedert was the first player taken by the then-defending Super Bowl champs in 2018, and he quickly emerged as a top-flight player, eventually unseating Zach Ertz as the Eagles starter.

Chad Greenway, Mount Vernon, 1st round, 2006, Vikings

In 11 seasons with the Vikings, the former Iowa Hawkeye was a consistently reliable tackler and leader who played in two Pro Bowls and helped the Vikings reach the NFC championship game in 2009.


Chad Greenway celebrates as he leaves the field Sunday following the Minnesota Vikings' 2009 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys in Minneapolis. (Courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Brian Hansen, USF, 9th round, 1984, Saints

A star kicker and punter with the Coo during their NAIA era, Hansen carved out a 15-year career as a reliable journeyman punter. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and averaged 42.3 yards per kick in a 15 year career for five different teams.

Steve Heiden, SDSU, 3rd round, 1999, Chargers

If Goedert and Kraft have made SDSU into a 21th-century 'Tight End U', Heiden was the grandfather of the movement. Despite playing in the Division II era, Heiden was taken in the third round by the Chargers and ended up playing 11 NFL seasons, most with the Cleveland Browns. He never made a Pro Bowl but caught 201 career passes with 14 touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Riley Reiff (71) stretches out with teammates prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Matt Gade / Forum News Service
Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Riley Reiff (71) stretches out with teammates prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Forum News Service photo

Riley Reiff, Iowa, 1st round, 2012, Lions

Reiff has been a steady presence in the NFL now for more than a decade, including for three-fourths of the NFC North with Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago and playing both offensive tackle positions. He signed with the Patriots this offseason, his fifth NFL team.

Pete Reztlaff, SDSU, 12th round, 1955, Lions

He'd eventually become an NFL legend as a broadcaster and front office executive but before that Retzlaff had an outstanding career as a receiver/tight end, playing 11 NFL seasons, leading the league in catches in 1958, named to five Pro Bowls and winning one title.


Adam Timmerman, SDSU, 7th round, 1995, Packers

Another Division II standout, Timmerman spent his rookie season as a backup guard for the Packers, became a full-time starter the next year and only missed one game over the next 10 seasons. Overall, Timmerman ended up playing 12 years in the league, the final eight for the Rams, winning two Super Bowl rings and playing in the 2001 Pro Bowl.

Opinion by Matt Zimmer
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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