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The NFL is paying attention to Missouri Football

Gary Pinkel, Josh Henson, Maty Mauk and Connor McGovern all earn praise from the professional level

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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12. Josh Henson Current job: Missouri offensive coordinator

The skinny: Henson, who turns 40 in July, might elicit more than a few "Who's that?" comments. But he shouldn't. He is entering his third season as Mizzou's coordinator and has been the Tigers' offensive line coach since February of 2009. He has done yeoman's work with the line, taking overlooked recruits and turning them into NFL players. He also has instilled a toughness not seen all that often in spread offenses. That likely comes from his background with Les Miles. Henson was an offensive lineman at Oklahoma State and Miles was his position coach; Miles later hired him as an assistant at Oklahoma State. Henson then followed Miles to LSU, where he was tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Henson left LSU for Missouri and definitely has improved Missouri's rushing attack.

Earlier this summer it seemed that if Josh Henson could manufacture an offense that simply stayed out of the way of the 2015 defense, many would consider this year a success. A strong, experienced offensive line and a stable of talented running backs should make his job easier, as has been the case since the disastrous 2012 season.

However, further uneven quarterback play and a fleet of athletic but unproven wide receivers will affect how Henson is perceived. Mizzou's defense has also taken some hits, specifically on the traditionally strong defensive line, putting additional pressure on the offense, and Henson, to perform.

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11. Gary Pinkel, Missouri Career record: 186-103-3

Remember those that doubted if Missouri could complete in the SEC when it made the move from the Big 12? Yes, there were plenty of them out there. Pinkel has had the last laugh, though, after capturing consecutive SEC East titles. He looks to be in prime position to go for three straight in 2015. He's developed both offensive and defensive players into high NFL draft picks and has certainly left his mark on the program.

Gary Pinkel may not have the personality of Steve Spurrier or the success of former teammate Nick Saban, but he's absolutely the best thing that's happened to Mizzou football since the 1960s.

I've always viewed CEO Pinkel as the man who builds the foundation of the football program such that the coach who follows him will be set up to take Mizzou to the next level for years to come.

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6. Maty Mauk, Missouri

Mauk has been labeled a gunslinger for quite some time, and it has equal parts to do with his decision making and his big arm. He launches the ball deep as effortlessly as he throws a quick out route, and he probably has the best arm in the SEC. That Mauk is only 6-foot-1 doesn't seem to be a hindrance to spinning the ball downfield.

It's interesting that his premiere skill has been noticed by "NFL-types" and ranked ahead of notable college quarterbacks like Auburn's Jeremy Johnson, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott, Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel, and Alabama's Jacob Coker. Mauk will have an opportunity to prove himself in head-to-head competition with one of these quarterbacks when Dak Prescott comes to Columbia on a Thursday night in November.

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2. Connor McGovern, OL, Missouri

The Tigers' starting offensive lineman with tackle-guard versatility has put on 50 pounds of muscle since arriving on campus in 2011. At 310 pounds, he can now bench press 470 pounds, squat a whopping 750, and hang clean 400-plus. His max of 39 reps of 225 pounds on the bench would have ranked among the strongest players on hand at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Missouri's season opener against Southeast Missouri will be his 29th start in a row.

We already knew this.