Offensive tackle Ryan Bates, a three-year starter for Penn State, has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, forgoing his final season. Bates was a third-team all-Big Ten selection in 2018, splitting time between left tackle and right tackle.
— Ryan Bates (@52batesryan) January 2, 2019
Bates, along with guards Connor McGovern (who also declared for the NFL on Wednesday) and Steven Gonzalez, has been a starter since the 2016 season. He initially was the team's left guard in 2016, but injuries to Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon left the team thin at tackle, and Bates showed great flexibility in moving to tackle.
A clear sign of Bates' impact was how noticeable his absence was in 2017 after an injury against Ohio State. The injury appeared to be a turning point in the game, as Penn State's offense looked much weaker following his departure.
This is an unquestionable blow for the Nittany Lions, as Bates has been a key part of the offense for three years. Will Fries is likely to return to left tackle, where he ended the 2018 season. It's likely redshirt sophomore Des Holmes will do battle with redshirt freshman Rasheed Walker and JUCO transfer Anthony Whigan for the starting right tackle job.