"So, we decided a couple weeks ago we were going to draft you, it was just a matter of when."
That's what General Manager Tom Telesco told Easton Stick when he called him to let him know the Chargers were taking him in the fifth round.
So, why were the Bolts so enamored with their new quarterback?
Let's start at the beginning.
Telesco and the team's scouts spend over 12 months evaluating hundreds, if not thousands, of college prospects, providing detailed accounts of every aspect of their game. In fact, at this moment, the Chargers' scouts are already hard at work on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, the coaching staff is obviously working hard during the season, so they aren't brought into the draft process until much later. By that point, the scouts have already done the lion's share of the work, providing detailed reports on countless players.
One of those was Easton Stick.
The North Dakota State product impressed the team throughout the entire leadup to the draft.
However, it was a late meeting with the quarterback that may have sealed the team's decision to target Stick.
"(We liked) a lot of things (about him)," Telesco said. "He's a great leader. He's very smart. He's tough. Obviously, he's won a lot of games at North Dakota State. As a quarterback, he's very athletic with very good feet. He can process quickly with his eyes. He has touch and accuracy. He's a quarterback that we really dialed in on. We really like his game. We actually brought him in for a visit pretty late in the process so our coaches could spend some more time with him."
So, how did he fare when in the building?
Let's just say he left one heck of an impression.
"We sent him a packet with some things and when he came in, we quizzed him on it," Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "We did something a little bit different this time. Usually, we'll ask them specific questions about plays in the packet. This time, we just said, 'Draw everything that you can remember.' Usually, it's about three plays — three pass plays and a couple of runs. (Stick) was very impressive. It's still on the board in (my office), the three plays that he drew up and how detailed they were. For a college football player having to learn something that's a little bit different than what he's done, put the time in and come back without any notice and be able to put it back up on the board was really impressive."
Stick vividly remembers the visit as well.
In fact, he left thinking the Chargers would be an ideal fit. At the same time, he had no clue what to expect once the draft began.
"It was great," he said. "I got a chance to sit around and talk football with Coach Whisenhunt and (Quarterbacks) Coach (Shane) Steichen, meet different people inside the building and walk around the facility. I really loved my time out there.... I wasn't sure (if they would draft me though). I tried to come into this thing without (many) expectations, but I knew that I really enjoyed my time out on my visit and getting to know those coaches. I thought we had a really good visit and great conversations, but this has been such a crazy process that you just never really know."
While he may not have known it at the time, the Chargers clearly were big fans of his game.
Thus, they pounced at the opportunity to select him when he was still on the board at pick 166.
"He's a guy that we really like," Telesco said. "For quarterbacks that don't really go high in the draft, we think he has a lot of qualities that are 'make it' qualities. He's a fifth-round pick. When you look at his production in college, his toughness, his leadership — his intangibles are off the charts. He's a great athlete, too, in the pocket as far as moving around, making plays with his feet and extending the play. He's very accurate. Like I said, he has great touch with the ball. He has great poise — doesn't get rattled very easily. There are a lot of qualities that we look for in a quarterback."
Of course, there's truly only one thing that really matters in football.
Well, you couldn't really ask much more from Stick in that regard as he guided the Bison to a 49-3 record as a starter.
"I like him," said Head Coach Anthony Lynn. "He's a winner. He went 49-3 at North Dakota State. He's a sharp player. He's creative when he has to be. He's a passer. I like him a lot. I think he's a good prospect and he'll get a chance to compete."
"It's really hard to ignore (a) 49-3 (record) over three years," added Whisenhunt. "It's very impressive."