Yesterday on twitter, Trey Lance, North Dakota State’s star redshirt sophomore quarterback, announced that he would be forgoing the rest of his college eligibility and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. This move was expected, as Lance was dominant in his redshirt freshman season.
In 2019, Lance threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns without turning the ball over once. Additionally, he added 1,100 rushing yards and fourteen rushing touchdowns.
In his 2020 showcase game against Central Arkansas on Saturday, Lance led the Bison to a 39-28 victory. He threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. On the ground, the dynamic signal-caller ran for 143 yards and two scores. Following the victory, Lance revealed his intent to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, where he is currently ranked by many as the number three quarterback in the class.
Has Lance proved enough for him to maintain that third rank throughout the entirety of the 2020 CFB season? This is a question that will be asked all the way until next April. Is Lance a top-three quarterback in the class, despite starting just 17 games in his collegiate career?
To begin answering this question, I’ll first state that Lance will not pass Trevor Lawrence as the best QB in the class, no matter what happens. However, I would not rule out that Trey Lance can overtake Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields as the second best of the class. That is why my answer to this question is yes: Lance is basically a lock for QB3, unless he jumps to QB2.
Indeed, he had a bad passing game against Central Arkansas. He was inaccurate, likely because he was trying to do too much to impress the increased media coverage the game received. Still, Lance has a world of potential that I would never pass up on just because of one bad game. His arm strength is off the charts, and he can turn nothing into a huge play. Lance also is an incredible decision-maker when both in the pocket and scrambling. He hits his target in stride in the middle of the field and will make the deep throw when he sees fit.
As a runner, Lance will continue to dominate in the NFL. Whether it is a designed run or a scramble on a broken play, Lance finds running lanes and is challenging to bring down, crediting his toughness. When you have zero fumbles in college as a quarterback, you have excellent ball security and strength during contact. Lance is a two-way quarterback who will significantly impact as both a passer and runner at the next level.
The one knock I have on Lance is that he has a very long release, which could cause turnover problems at the next level. By combining this with his inexperience in games against top collegiate opponents, Lance still has plenty of development left to do. In the fall of 2021, he should not be starting on Sunday’s, but rather as a backup to a competent veteran quarterback, learning the reins.
As for the rest of the quarterbacks in this draft class, I see none with a good chance of surpassing Lance. Kyle Trask is off to a historic start, but he has not started many games and has mechanics issues of his own. We have yet to see Tanner Morgan in action, and prospects like Brock Purdy and Desmond Ridder have not impressed thus far. Trey Lance has just as much upside as anyone in this draft class and should be a first-round lock. He will be the second or third quarterback off of the board.