Sticking Out: NDSU’s Easton Stick is a Franchise QB in the Making

No, NDSU QB Easton Stick is not Carson Wentz. Let’s make that clear right off the top. Stick, like Wentz, however, has delivered the Bison a dazzling record, a national championship, and plenty other memorable moments during his collegiate tenure, showing off NFL caliber traits in the process. He’s earned every right not just to be known as “Wentz’s Successor,” but as a potential next-level QB himself. He’s no doubt got his flaws, just like very signal-caller in this draft. When all is said and done though, I believe Stick has as good a chance as any to be the first QB off the board roughly eight months from now. Simply put, he’s a franchise QB in the making.

Mobility and Athleticism

Although he’s 2-3 inches shorter and about 25 pounds lighter than Carson Wentz, Easton Stick is a phenomenal athlete himself and shares a lot of similarities to Wentz in this regard. Able to extend plays, roll out efficiently in bootleg action, and tuck it and run it himself, Stick’s mobility is arguably the first thing that sticks out (no pun intended) when watching his film.

Take the play below for example. Rushed by three opponents early in his dropback, 95% of quarterbacks would take a sack or throw one in the dirt here. Not Stick. Quickly rolling back out to the right, Stick then encounters the fourth lineman and pulls a little hesitation move on him. With plenty of room to run he gets upfield in a hurry, then finishes it off by doing the smart thing and getting out of bounds. Perfection.

Secondly, Stick executes a routine bootleg play action here in impressive fashion. An NDSU offensive staple, like Wentz, Stick really knows how to sell a fake, a trait pretty rare among collegiate signal-callers. Also like Wentz, he uses his mobility and escapability to throw a nice outside hash from the right side. Almost like a baseball player, he’s able to torque his body while on the move to increase his accuracy. Although it may not look like it, that’s pure athleticism right there folks.

Another example, even better probably, of Stick’s ability on the run. Fits it perfectly over the shoulder and in stride. Can’t ask for a better throw.

Lastly, he’s fast. Not much else to say about that.

Poise and Pocket Presence

Stick’s innate ability to stay calm under pressure separates him from every other draft-eligible collegiate QB. Yes, it’s FCS play, but nothing ever looks too big for the Bison, and it comes across almost constantly in-game. Don’t get me wrong, Stick will use his mobility time and time again, but he can win within a pocket and a collapsing one at that. Fearless, he’s the type of guy to take the hit to make the play. As a QB you almost need that mentality, and Stick certainly possesses it.

Enough talk, now let’s get to the evidence. It really doesn’t look like anything more than a beautiful throw on the surface, but as you can see Stick does a great job handling pressure here, despite it being almost impossible to see. Sensing a defender from his left-hand side, Stick subtly takes a step in, creating both time and space in order to deliver the throw. These little nuances often get lost in a game, and Stick shows them off a great deal.

Simply my favorite Stick play, the Bison shows literally everything in all of 7 seconds here. First, he takes a step in (similar to that last clip). He knows another defender is coming full steam from the middle but goes ahead and takes the step anyway. Then, willingly sacrificing his body, he throws an absolute dot to the left side. How he gets that amount of zip while falling backward and getting his arm motion cutoff is beyond me. There is no other way to describe it. This is an NFL throw.

Mechanics and Footwork

It’s becoming very apparent that North Dakota State has a pretty wicked quarterbacks coach. And no, it’s not because of Carson Wentz or Easton Stick’s speed, size, and essential talent. It’s because of the little things like play action fakes, five and seven step drops, and the pinpoint footwork and mechanics that seem almost identical between the two QBs. Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t so little.

Here’s a good clip showing off Stick’s mechanics below. Keeps the elbow level, feet nice and wide, then has a beautiful extension and over the top release without dipping the shoulder or elbow. Essentially he makes it look easy and comfortable, which is exactly what you want.

And then here’s Wentz’s. Notice he has the exact extension and over the top release. It’s almost at the point where it’s elongated, but like Stick, he does a good job of not dipping the elbow or shoulder. Almost everything is the same, even in the way they both keep a wide base during and after the delivery. Ultimately, with Wentz being a star QB himself, being compared to him mechanically is certainly not a bad thing.

Accuracy and Throwing Ability

As mentioned on several occasions, Stick has the ability to throw off of basically any platform. What hasn’t been brought up though, is that he can throw with a multitude of different styles. Able to whip a ball in a tight window, throw a loft in the outstretched hands of a wideout, or even make a shovel pass on the run, these dimensions in Stick aren’t exactly unique, but certainly important skills to have. Additionally, and arguably most importantly (ahem Josh Allen), he’s accurate. Although a great deal of this has to do with his clean footwork and mechanics, he also just seems like a naturally accurate passer. Whether it be climbing the pocket, on the run, or on a three-step drop from the shotgun, Stick is as good as any in this class at throwing a ball to where the receiver needs to be.

Alluding to the ability to make a multitude of throws, Stick isn’t just one of those “one speed” QBs. Throwing with some beautiful touch, he drops an absolutely gorgeous throw right over the back shoulder. Although the wideout doesn’t come down with the ball, you can’t throw a ball more accurately than this one.

It’s no secret Stick doesn’t have the biggest arm. Besides pure body size, it’s likely the biggest distinction between him and Wentz. But, to call it “weak” is certainly not an accurate statement as this clip hopefully does a good point of disapproving. He can provide plenty of zip, and most importantly, be accurate with that velocity. NDSU does start the play on the left hash here, but to cork a pass to the sideline with that type of strength shows he’ll be just fine at the next level. Long story short is that he can make all the throws asked of him. With so many other superb strengths, that’s more than enough for me.

Bottom Line

No QB in this upcoming 2019 NFL Draft class is perfect, and Easton Stick is certainly no exception. He can telegraph passes, doesn’t have a “great arm,” and needs to lose his “running” mentality. However, there aren’t many QBs in this class that have the combination of skills and polish that he possesses. For that reason alone, with enough progression this year he could certainly be the most recent NDSU franchise QB. FCS. FBS. I don’t care. Stick is legit, and that’s all that matters.

cdonnick

NFL Draft fanatic and writer for @DFF_Devy #DevyWatch. Just a kid wanting his opinions heard, who happens to love his Seahawks, Jets, and Jazz. Follow me at @CDonScouting. #DraftTwitter

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