Yes, the North Dakota State football team will miss quarterback Easton Stick next season. But don't overlook the talent the Bison lost on the offensive line.
That's one takeaway you could surmise from the voluminous 2019 NFL Draft Guide published by analyst Dane Brugler at The Athletic web site. Here's the link (subscription required): 2019 NFL Draft Guide.
The Frisco, Texas-based writer compiled the 222-page guide and released it 10 days before the draft begins Thursday, April 25 in Nashville, Tenn. In it, he breaks down each position and ranks hundreds of players, grading who might get drafted, who might sign as free agents and the "best of the rest."
Stick, the quarterback who led the Bison to back-to-back Football Championship Subdivision national titles and had a much-decorated career, is still viewed as the most likely former NDSU player to get drafted by an NFL team. Stick is ranked as the 12th-best quarterback available and is graded as a potential seventh-round pick (although Brugler's mock draft released last week has Stick going undrafted).
Bison running back Bruce Anderson also gets a relatively high grade as the 36th-best available running back, with a grade of priority free agent.
But three NDSU offensive lineman also snuck into Brugler's guide, perhaps indicating the team's strength in that area the past couple of years -- which comes as no surprise given the Bison's historic robustness at that position. Colin Conner is ranked as the 47th best offensive lineman available, Luke Bacon is rated as the 68th best offensive lineman and Tanner Volson is ranked the 20th best center.
None are graded by Brugler as being drafted or signed as priority free agents, but it is the position group in which NDSU has the most players in the guide.
Conner had an impressive pro day at NDSU recently. The left guard, at 6-foot-4 and 311 pounds, showed great athleticism with a 28 1/2 vertical jump and an 8-foot, 6-inch broad jump.
Other Bison players ranked among the "best of the rest" included running back Lance Dunn, receiver Darrius Shepherd, safety Rob Grimsley, cornerback Jalen Allison and defense end Greg Menard.