Who's next? An early look at 2025 NFL Draft candidates from South Dakota

Apr. 29—SIOUX FALLS — South Dakota continues to have a serious presence in the NFL Draft, reaching a high point this year with four selections and another 11 getting free agent or minicamp offers.

A total of 15 players who are either from South Dakota or played at a South Dakota college spent time on an NFL roster last year, and that number should climb significantly in 2024.

Will the trend continue in 2025? It's never too early to look ahead.

Much can happen in a single season — there could be a player or three who aren't on the radar today that could make themselves a pro prospect with a big 2024 season.

But as it stands now, here are the players from South Dakota who are most likely to be under the watchful eye of NFL scouts this fall. (Every player listed will be a senior in 2024 though some may still have a year of eligibility left from the COVID-19 year)

Adam Bock, LB, SDSU

One of the most consistently efficient players in Jackrabbit history, Bock has been a machine at the Mike for SDSU, with 344 career tackles and 10 sacks. A four-year starter who also played four games in his redshirt year, Bock missed a total of nine games due to injury over the last two seasons and will hope to put together a fully healthy final season to improve his draft stock while helping SDSU chase a third straight FCS national championship.

Nash Hutmacher, DL, Chamberlain (Nebraska)

With 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a junior, the wrestling legend was All-Big Ten honorable mention and will be one of the Huskers' more important players in 2024 as they look to end their bowl drought.

Dalys Beanum, CB, SDSU

A model of consistency who can cover and tackle, Beanum has appeared in all 45 games over the last three seasons, notching 86 tackles and 11 interceptions. The Jacks are on a quality run of NFL-caliber corners, with Jordan Brown getting drafted by the Bengals, Don Gardner catching on with Tampa Bay and DyShawn Gales the Browns, and Beanum may well be the next.

Grey Zabel, OL, Pierre (NDSU)

Started all 15 games for the Bison last year — three at guard and 12 at right tackle, and that versatility will no doubt appeal to NFL teams. At 6-6, 300-pounds, the former Governor should be one of NDSU's top pro prospects.

Mark Gronowski, QB, SDSU

He could still return to play college football in '25 (for SDSU or someone else), but with a big season this fall (perhaps another FCS title) and a sharpening of his skills, Gronowski could be looking at a pro career. Opinions are varied on whether Gronowski has the tools to play in the NFL, but there's no doubt he has all the intangibles.

JJ Galbreath, TE, USD

The Jackrabbits have established themselves as the FCS's 'Tight End U', but they won't have any seniors this year. The Coyotes have one of the top returners at the position in the Valley, as Galbreath caught 36 passes for 579 yards and five touchdowns last year. He caught 22 balls for 286 yards in 2022 and with another big season the 6-4, 240-pounder could draw interest from the league.

Marcus Hicks, OL, SDSU

We haven't seen this guy play yet, but the transfer from Oklahoma was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and has NFL size (6-6, 305). If he can contribute for the Jacks this year he'll likely draw some interest.

Blake Peterson, DE, SDSU

The transfer from Iowa State was hurt most of last year, notching six tackles in seven games. But he's got Big 12 experience and if can get healthy and become a part of the Jacks D-line rotation this fall he could put himself on the radar.

Dennis Shorter, S, USD

Entering his third year as a starter in what's typically been a strong Coyote secondary, Shorter had 97 tackles, an interception, seven passes defensed and a blocked kick last year.

Mark Leonard, TE, USF

An All-NSIC pick last year, Leonard caught 38 balls for 440 yards and four touchdowns, and at 6-5, 250 looks the part. Several tight ends from South Dakota have already made it to the NFL, which should help Leonard's chances of getting noticed.

Haden Wallace, LB, Augustana

A well-rounded defender and field general, Wallace had 67 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions for the NSIC champs last year.

Other potential candidates for the draft: SDSU — K/P Hunter Dustman, RB Amar Johnson, DL Jarod DePriest, G Evan Beerntsen, C Gus Miller; USD — QB Aidan Bouman, DL Nick Gaes; AU — T C.J. James, S Peyton Buckley; SD Mines — QB Jayden Johannsen (currently in transfer portal)