As draft analysts start to prepare and get a first look at next year’s NFL draft class they start to throw opinions out there left and right. They try to figure out who is a top guy and who isn’t.
This is where the thought that this year’s quarterback crop is no good at all. Now while I agree it is not close to where last year’s or the year beforehand was, it does have potential.
So far through my study of this year’s potential quarterback crop, I have found that there are a lot of names but not many that jumped out as the guy. Many have the potential to get there but we must see what happens after this season. Now while there isn’t a bunch of players who have caught my eye there is one who has. His name you ask? Why it’s North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick.
A Look at North Dakota State Quarterback Easton Stick and Why He’s a Franchise Players
Yes, it is true that when you turn on film of Stick it is evident that he does not have the strongest arm but that doesn’t bother me. While it may not be the strongest arm he does have enough strength to play in the NFL.
However, arm talent is a lot more than just how far a quarterback can throw the ball. It includes a quarterback’s ability to successfully throw the ball in tight windows, his touch, timing, ball placement, and many more factors. Stick may not check the box for the strongest arm, but he checks almost all other boxes when it comes to a quarterback’s arm talent.
Stick can throw the ball in some very tight windows and understands how to correctly place the ball so only his receiver can make the catch. He also does a great job of placing the ball correctly so when the wide receiver comes out of his break the ball will be right there for him to catch. This is something that many quarterbacks at the college level fail to learn and understand. He also has the IQ and mental processing to diagnose and maximize versus coverage mismatches.
While Stick may not be a run-first quarterback, that doesn’t mean that he can’t take off when the time is right. He has all the tools needed for a quarterback to extend plays with his feet. Whether that be him leaving the pocket and scrambling or his taking off and running for yards on the ground he can do them both.
An underrated trait for many quarterbacks is athleticism. Many fail to realize how important athleticism is for a quarterback in today’s game. No not everyone has to have Russell Wilson’s or Cam Newton’s athleticism to succeed but they should have enough to allow them to get out of tough situations. Stick shows positive athleticism for his size that allows him to be a true dual threat. In 2017, he scored 12 rushing touchdowns.
Leadership and Poise
One of the most important things a quarterback needs to be is a leader. And that is exactly what Stick is for the Bisons. He is a two-year captain for the team, going on his third year as a captain this season. After star quarterback Carson Wentz went down with an injury in 2015, Stick was tasked with filling his shoes as a true freshman. It was a task that he did very well, leading his team to the FCS championship. Ever since Stick entered the starting lineup he has shown he is a guy the team rallies behind, and it is evident when you watch him play.
As for poise, there never looks to be a spotlight that is too big for the guy. It was evident early on in his career when he handled the pressure of going to the FCS championship as a freshman very well and performed to his best ability. In games, he shows great ability to be able to slow the game down when needed and not panic or fold under pressure.
Routinely Stick will stay in the pocket and deliver throws knowing that he will get drilled by a big hit, but he sticks (pun intended) in and delivers the pass anyway. Now while I do like his poise and ability to trust his arm and eyes enough to stay put and deliver the tough throws, I do worry about his ability to pick up on blitzers in the pocket. He will benefit greatly from learning to get a better feel for the pocket as it collapses around him.
Stick will also need to learn how to consistently move freely around the pocket. This involves sliding up in the pocket and knowing when to leave the pocket to extend the play. It’s not that Stick doesn’t do this, because he does but not the extent that would allow him to consistently win at the next level. He tends to stay in the pocket too long and it causes many unwanted sacks that could have been avoided. By getting a better feel for the pocket around him it will teach him when to slide up into the pocket and deliver a throw and when to scramble.
Overall, Stick may not be one of the big-name guys going into the college football season, but don’t be surprised to see his name emerge. He has the arm talent, natural accuracy, leadership, and IQ to be a highly converted quarterback come draft season. While he does still have many things he still needs to work on they are all fixable. He may not be the perfect quarterback but then again neither is anyone else in this year’s potential quarterback class at this point and time.