The closest thing Missouri had to the Incredible Hulk is headed west after Connor McGovern was selected Saturday by Denver in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
McGovern — a workout warrior from Fargo, N.D., who started at multiple positions in a standout Tigers career — will reunite with Bishop Miege graduate Shane Ray, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2015.
“I fell in love with the gym early,” McGovern said on a conference call with reporters in Denver. “That came through my father (Keith), who is a body builder. I think it helps a lot, whether it be my actual strength on the field and being able to use it there or as a mental confidence booster. I was always one of the strongest guys on the field.”
Ray, who won a Super Bowl with Denver as a rookie three months ago, told The Star in a text message that he’s thrilled to have McGovern join him in the mountains.
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“I think (McGovern’s) going to make a roster, and I think he’s going to make that organization better,” first-year Missouri coach Barry Odom said.
McGovern, who was picked 16 spots after Evan Boehm was drafted by Arizona, was a jack of all trades at Missouri.
“He moved so many spots and positions this last year, it probably wasn’t the best for him for us to ask him to do that, but he never said a word and just went and tried to use his skills and do it,” Odom said.
His best seasons probably were at right guard and that figures to be his position moving forward, but McGovern also started at right tackle as an underclassman and found a home at left tackle as a senior.
McGovern told NFL teams during the interview process that he’s willing to play center, where he practiced during his redshirt season at Mizzou, so he could fit anywhere on the interior and his strength could make him a force in Broncos coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking system.
“We know we got a smart young man that has played against really good players and has done that at a very high level, so we’ll get him in here and put him to work and see where he fits best,” Kubiak said.
McGovern’s experience at tackle experience gives him added versatility. He could slide out to right tackle in a pinch.
McGovern was credited with a Mizzou-record 810-pound squat last summer. He also tore his pectoral muscle attempting a 515-pound bench press during his time with the Tigers.
“One thing we know about him is that he likes the weight room,” Broncos general manager John Elway said. “He spends a lot of time in the weight room, so it’s our kind of guy.”
At the NFL Combine in February, McGovern benched 225 pounds 33 times, which was the second-most behind Arizona State’s Christian Westerman (34).