Trey Lance is one of the great unknowns in the 2021 NFL Draft. Does he have what it takes to be an elite quarterback in the NFL?
A handful of mid-major programs offered Lance a scholarship as a quarterback but power-conference programs with interest in him wanted Lance to change positions. He ended up at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, only to spend one season as the starter. In 2019, he threw for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He led the Bison to a perfect 16-0 record and an FCS national championship. However, he only played one game in 2020 because North Dakota State’s season was delayed until the spring.
Lance fits the profile of a dual-threat quarterback who’s dangerous with his legs. He can get out of the pocket when he needs to and is strong enough to shake arm tackles and get loose. As a passer, he has the arm talent to play in the NFL. At North Dakota State, he frequently played in cold or windy conditions, which should serve him well as a pro.
The obvious questions surrounding Lance revolve around him playing just one season in college and facing a lower level of competition. Physically, there are few questions about his skillset. However, whether he’ll be mentally prepared to play quarterback at a high level is uncertain.
There appears to be little consensus regarding Lance being worthy of a top-10 pick. It’s likely he will only be the fourth quarterback selected behind Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson. His draft position will depend on how quickly those three come off the board and how teams feel Lance fits their needs. He may not be ready to start Week 1 of his rookie season and will need a system that plays to his dual-threat abilities.