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Big Ten players in the NFL: Gophers rank near the bottom

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Minnesota's chances of winning the Big Ten West division seem to be pretty good this year, but the Gophers are not the cream of the crop in terms of putting players in the NFL.

According to Big Ten Network, Minnesota ranks third worst in the conference with only eight former players on active NFL rosters entering Week 1 of the 2015 season Thursday night.

Ohio State and Penn State lead the Big Ten with 25 players on active rosters. Wisconsin and Iowa have 22, Nebraska 21, Michigan 20, Michigan State and Rutgers 16, Maryland 14, Purdue 12, Illinois 9, Minnesota 8, Indiana 6 and Northwestern 5.

The eight Gophers are: Eric Decker (Jets), MarQueis Gray (Bills), Ra’Shede Hageman (Falcons), Marcus Sherels (Vikings), Matt Spaeth (Steelers), Brock Vereen (Bears), Maxx Williams (Ravens) and Damien Wilson (Cowboys).

Running back David Cobb in Tennessee will make it nine for the Gophers once he returns from injury. He's on Tennessee's short-term injury list with a calf injury and cannot play in a game until after Week 8, according to

Cobb, Gray, Hageman, Vereen, Williams, Wilson all played under current Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill, with Cobb, Williams and Wilson all getting drafted earlier this year.

Williams is expected to start the season as Baltimore's backup tight end, ESPN reports. Williams has a chance to play a key role in Dallas' defense as a backup linebacker, the Dallas Morning News says.

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