NDSU Football players making the jump to the NFL after their senior season has become as much of a given as cold and wind on the prairie. Don't want to take it for granted because it may not always be that way but it's plenty enjoyable and should continue for the next few years, at least.
In my estimation, there are five pro possible players. After throwing the topic out on social, a sixth player was suggested and is the player that I'll start with.
I think Board is the most unlikely to get past a NFL rookie camp opportunity. Working in his favor is that there are some terrible defense's who will be scrambling to find guys who can make them even marginally better. His best odds would come through an Adam Thielen like path. Just get some attention, find a way to stand out. Learn and continue to improve on a practice squad and then on special teams. He got a lot of work in as a special teamer at NDSU so that's a potential advantage down the road. If he's given an opportunity he'll have to do more with it on the pro level then he did while in school.
Gotta start by looking at the worst of the worst in the landscape of defense's. My guess and these are all blind guesses.
New York Giants
Health is still a concern for him but a team that thinks they can help him get back on track with the trajectory that he was showing before the knee injury could take a chance on him. The advantage that every defensive lineman will have this year is the copycat nature of the league after the Eagles dominated there way through the playoffs. An undrafted guy that could make plays in the backfield will be more welcome then ever.
Which team with a terrible defensive line could give him a shot?
San Francisco 49er's
I've been one of the few to think that RJ could make it as an NFL wide receiver. No he's not the fastest. Yeah, he's a little undersized as an outside receiver. But I can't ignore his ability to make catch, after catch, after catch and I bet that after seeing him in person, a franchise will agree with me. I'm not calling for him to be a day one impact player but if he puts in the time I think he will be on an NFL roster one day. The real question in my opinion is where he wants to, I haven't heard anything either way about it, but I hope he does!
So let's think, a small white guy with good hands. Whereever could he land??
New England Patriots
People have and will talk about how tough he is, as evidenced that bit of video that was seen all over the place. In a tough mans game that's a valuable quality to have. It doesn't hurt that he plays a position that every team needs to have more talent. All 32 teams have need of more offensive lineman. May have worked himself into late round consideration after the Senior Bowl but if not, then he would get to choose between any interested parties and that can be beneficial.
So a team that likes physical play and could use more bolstering in front of the Quarterback?
The man with the flowing locks may be a longer shot than I am claiming by putting him at this spot on the list but the Lidgerwood native could manage to flash enough in a rookie camp to get signed to a 90 man roster. From there it would just be about doing enough to warrant a slot on a practice squad. As we've seen over and over again, a chance that isn't wasted can lead to success and even on occasion, big pay days. It would take several years of work for Illies to reach that level but it's not outside the realm of possibility...just ask Adam Thielen!
But which team could use a pass catching tight end from one of the most successful pro style offenses in college Football? Better question may be which one wouldn't have some use for that?? I'll stick with the homer pick on this one.
Going into 2017 I would have said that Grimsley is the best safety on the team. Dempsey did plenty to show me that it wasn't nearly that cut & dry. 50 total tackles, six interceptions and five pass breakups. Unfortunately for him he plays a position that has a lot of talent pro already. If a team likes him enough to select in the sixth or seventh rounds he will likely still have to prove himself as a special teams player before an opportunity would come as a player on defense. Having nearly 200 tackles over four years of play, 63% of which were solo tackles, means that taking that path to success would be a reasonably nature fit.
Finding a team that could use special teams help and a possible contributor at Safety?
My guess: Miami Dolphins
The Bison player with the best odds of getting draft and possibly well before the three days are concluded. He received positive reviews for his work at the Senior Bowl but now has to (and gets to) go through the underwear olympics in Indianapolis. The medical evaluations may be the most important part of that process for him but a good showing in all the different tests can only help his stock. So I'm not going to predict that he will get selected in the third or fourth round but the odds of him going undrafted are slim and could get thinner in a couple weeks.
The Colts have one of the worst Linebacking corps in the NFL. After yet another coaching change it remains to be seen what kinds of schemes will be used on defense but Indy seems like a very possible landing spot.
So there you have it, six possible #proBison. Some would have much longer roads to success than others but there is a chance that all six of these guys could make an impact in the NFL over time.
But what say you?