The North Dakota State University football team has had many talented players play for the storied program through the years. It is quite possible the last three years may have been the best for the Bison for not only overall team success but collection of talent.
This thought was further justified this weekend as the Bison saw four former players ink pro deals, with one of these four going in the third round of the NFL Draft.
Brock Jensen, Bryan Shepherd, Billy Turner and Marcus Williams all landed on a NFL team this weekend. Turner was selected in the third round (67 overall) by the Miami Dolphins. After the draft concluded, Jensen signed a free agent deal with the same team.
Shepherd signed with the Washington Redskins while Williams signed a deal with the Houston Texans.
The drafting of Turner was expected but maybe not as high as the third round. It appears the Dolphins thought highly of Turner, moving up 14 picks just to get him. According to the Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey, Miami plans to work him both at guard and tackle.
Jensen will have to compete just to make the roster. The Dolphins roster already includes four quarterbacks in Pat Devlin, Matt Moore, Jordan Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill.
It is neat that Jensen and Turner ended up on the same team, however, and familiarity with each other should help these two as they assimilate into the pro game.
Bryan Shepherd, to me, was the most surprising free agent signing if for the fact there was not a lot of attention paid to him becoming an NFL player after the NDSU season concluded.
I think his 40-time, which was at a 4.48, coupled with the fact that he is a solid tackler at the safety position, led Washington to at least take a look at him. It wouldn't surprise me if Shepherd ended up latching on with the team. NDSU has had a recent history of safeties making it in the NFL.
Williams may have had the furthest fall from grace. Williams, who was projected early on to have the best pro prospects on the NDSU roster, ended up signing with the Houston Texans after not being drafted.
Williams, however, has a good chance of sticking around in the NFL. Reason being is that as the game continues to become more pass oriented, the need for depth in the defensive secondary will be a must.
Williams posses great ball skills and he was also a valuable kick returner on special teams. I have to think his lack of speed, he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, and a underwhelming senior season knocked down Williams' draft stock.
A great showing by NDSU but we won't find out how great until the regular season hits and see how many of these players actually make the final roster. My best guess is that Jensen has the toughest road ahead of him.
Quarterback is the most valuable position on the field in the NFL and now the back-up is even a valued position. Just making it on the roster as a third string will not be easy for Jensen.
If Shepherd and Williams can survive injury, they could find themselves either on a roster or on a practice squad at the beginning of the season.
Turner will make the team and be a back-up by the start of the season. I think he will end up cracking the starting line-up by his second year in the league, if not late in his rookie year.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called The Pinto and White Shadow Show. Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.