Trey Lance – Capable NFL Quarterback?

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The 2021 NFL Draft is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent years. The quarterback market is completely overflowing with talented players, which could lead to many potential draft-day trades. Not only does this make the draft extremely hard to predict, but it might force many talented prospects to fall. Trey Lance could be one of those prospects. Trevor Lawrence is the unanimous number one slam dunk pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But after that, there is not really another guarantee. Deshaun Watson wanting out and Russell Wilson’s possible discomfort could see the Jets dishing out their pick for a superstar. Teams will also be looking to find their franchise quarterback in the draft. Trey Lance, out of North Dakota State, might be that guy for some teams. 

Trey Lance was 17-0 in college, and although he only played one game in 2020, he was a national champion in 2019.

The 2019 national champion is the prototypical size for a superstar quarterback, at a staggering 6’4”, 226 pounds. Despite only playing in one season, Lance dominated, going 16-0. Not only did he throw for 2786 yards, but he also ran for 1100 yards. Trey Lance was fantastic as a dual-threat guy, but he isn’t like other dual threats. Lance runs powerfully, and he is built to sustain hits, unlike guys like Manziel or Lamar Jackson. Also different from those guys, he is phenomenal in the pocket, not just on the run. Lance threw 28 touchdowns, and not a single interception. The stats look good, but let’s take a deeper dive into what makes Lance the draft’s most underrated prospect. 

Superstar Qualities 

Trey Lance might have played in a lower division of college football, but he showcased some of the most important qualities that it takes to be a good quarterback in the NFL. Not all talented college quarterbacks are able to translate to the pros, but Lance has the tools. 


Not all quarterbacks have to be big (Wilson and Brees), but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Lance is not only tall, but he is built like a linebacker. This makes it incredibly hard to sack him, which allows for the FCS quarterback to extend plays. This size also allows for the quarterback to run hard and powerful, trucking tacklers along the way. The combination of size and speed makes the dual-threat QB dangerous, as not only he can run, but he can throw. 

Arm Strength 

Trey Lance wasn’t exactly playing future NFL stars in the secondary of opposing teams, but his ability to throw the deep ball was uncanny. When a receiver did find himself open down the field, Lance was not afraid to get it to him. This deep ball ability led the Bison to score 35 or more in 10 out of 16 games in 2019. In some of his tape, Trey Lance threw the deep ball a little behind the pass catcher, but it still resulted in scores. If he is able to throw it consistently, the deep pass game could be lethal. 

Lance is able hit the open man, but the real question is whether or not he can make NFL-level throws.

Arm Accuracy 

A good quarterback can hit an open man downfield; a great quarterback hits the guys that aren’t. In his one season, Lance was able to make tough throws in tight windows a few times. You can’t fault Trey Lance for his receivers being able to find themselves open, however that is a concern. But Lance was a good quarterback in his college career because he just does not miss the receivers that are wide open, and that leads to scores. If he can make tight throws, he can go from decent to very good very quickly. 

Pocket Awareness 

One thing that the quarterback does very well is identify blitzers early to get himself out of trouble. Trey is able to slide up in the pocket and deliver throws while defenders are running down on him. This pocket awareness goes hand in hand with his scrambling ability. Whenever he sees running room, he is not afraid to leave his receivers and take off. Luckily, Lance does not often leave the pocket too early, and so unlike other lanky scramblers, his passing game still comes first. This is important in a franchise quarterback, because he is not afraid to take hits. Unfortunately, his run-pass decision making is the only one that seems to always be right. 

Trey Lance's ability to run makes him a very interesting dual threat quarterback.
Lance might be the very best running quarterback in the draft, and draws comparisons to Deshaun Watson or Colin Kaepernick

Question Marks 


The question is always the same when it comes to FCS players, specifically quarterbacks. Can they compete against NFL talent? Jimmy G and Carson Wentz are the last two quarterbacks to have success in the NFL, but for each one of them is a Kyle Lauletta, who never exactly panned out for the Giants. As previously stated, Lance is often throwing to receivers with 10 yards of space. This just does not happen in the NFL unfortunately, and Trey’s lack of tight throws is a concern. Without evidence of NFL level throws, FCS quarterbacks are always a risk.  

Decision Making 

Of course, when Lance sees an open man, he doesn’t miss him. (Trey Lance Stats) However, the instinct to throw into a tight window is something that is not seen often in college quarterbacks. Trey is able to read a defense well, but a lot of his plays are scheme plays that are impressive no matter who is at quarterback. Sometimes it seems as if Trey does not trust himself to make tough throws, even though he is plenty talented. Lance sometimes progresses too quickly off a route and goes to a checkdown without giving plays time to develop. The decision making comes with experience, which is another thing Trey lacks in. The quarterback only started 17 games in college, however he did win all of them. The kid has the x-factor, but now he must clean up the rest. 

Bottom Line 

The bottom line is this, Trey Lance has phenomenal upside, yet a low floor. I believe with Trevor Lawrence you are getting a guaranteed starting-level quarterback, but I cannot say the same about the FCS star. Trey Lance might be the second-most talented player in the draft, but talent doesn’t always translate. Trey Lance was a system guy at North Dakota State, but if he can break that mold and showcase that he is NFL-caliber, then teams could be getting a steal out of him. The perfect fit for Lance would be a team with a decent quarterback already, but might be looking to upgrade soon, which would allow for him to sit a year or two. He needs the experience, so throwing him into games too soon could stunt his development. 

Perfect Trey Lance Fits: Panthers, 49ers, Falcons 

Decent Fits: Patriots, Football Team, Colts 

Ceiling: Andrew Luck (All-Pro potential if maturity and talent translate) 

Floor: Jamarcus Russell (Stunning Talent, didn’t pan out in the NFL) 

Dylan Herrick

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