Trey Lance is the phenom quarterback out of North Dakota State University and appears to be the third-best QB in the 2021 NFL draft, just behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
Lance completed 317 passes for 2,935 yards and 30 touchdowns in his short college career as a starter. Even more impressive is in his tenure as NDSU’s starter Lance only had one intercepted pass. Adding on to his strong passing game is his excellent run ability. Lance rushed for 1,243 yards as a starter and scored 18 TDs with his legs.
However, Trey Lance is still a very inexperienced and incomplete quarterback despite all of these positive attributes. Moreover, if he were to start for an NFL team in the state he is in now, it would not be pretty.
Whether Trey Lance is skilled or not comes from the fact that his competition was less than ideal. Playing in the FCS, there is no way to tell if Lance is playing well or if his opponents are playing poorly. In most, if not all of his games, his receivers would be wide open. In his entire college career, he rarely had to make a tough pass.
His offensive line was elite compared to opposing defensive lines to add on to the skill difference between his receivers and opposing defensive backs.
In 2019 Trey Lance only took 14 sacks. To compare in 2019, LSU, one of the best college teams of all time, gave up 35 sacks. NDSU’s insane offensive line also supported Lance’s rushing game. For most of Lance’s runs, there were clean holes for the quarterback to run through. He was virtually untouched because his offensive line was so much better than the opponent’s defensive line.
However, not all of Trey Lance’s concerns come from his competition. Lance has several problems with his playstyle and throwing mechanics, which will prove to be detrimental against tougher competition.
Although Lance is famous for his excellent deep balls, they are not anything special. They are less than impressive; they are average. Most of Lance’s deep balls are not perfectly timed or slightly underthrown. More often than not, his receiver has to slow down to catch the ball. This is fine when he plays FCS opponents, but in the NFL, that pass is intercepted or blocked.
Despite Lance’s deep ball being reasonably good, one thing he struggles with is intermediate passes. As he throws shorter balls and the defensive backs cover his receivers more closely, he becomes less and less accurate. More often than not, he will either throw the ball ahead or behind his intended receiver on intermediate masses. The passes are catchable, yes, but this reveals a hidden problem. Trey Lance can rarely throw into tight windows. Playing against lesser competition, Lance has never had to throw into close windows to succeed. Still, once he goes to the next level, the uncertainties of making that throw would make head coaches uncomfortable.
I am not saying that Trey Lance should not be in the NFL. I’m not even saying that he should stay at NDSU for another year. Lance has learned all that he could from the college game. I am saying that Trey Lance is not ready to start a 16 game season for an NFL team. Trey Lance needs to sit behind a veteran quarterback for at least a year to improve. If he does that and gets drafted into a quality organization, then he will be a quarterback to be reckoned with. But if he isn’t, he will be one of the biggest busts of the NFL draft