Trey Lance. A product of the same division two school as Carson Wentz. These guys that come out of the second division of college football are often given less time in the light. We all talk about the Alabama’s and the LSU’s, the Clemson’s and the OSU’s. But it’s time to talk about Trey Lance, and have a look at what he’s been up to over the past couple of seasons… it’s certainly an interesting story, and he had to put on quite a show to end up a top ten candidate in a short period of time.
Trey Lance – QB, North Dakota State Bison
The young quarterback prospect didn’t begin that way. His father Carlton Lance worked as Trey’s main trainer, helping him grow into football from a young age. Trey Lance began as a running back. He was only ever made the back up quarterback because nobody else on his team wanted to do it in middle school. Training in the back yard with his dad, ESPN notes that Carlton Lance had to buy some gloves so his son would stop shredding up his old mans hands whipping passes into him.
He would rarely get the chance to play the second half of his high school games, because the scores got so ugly for the opposing team that they’d sit him for the second half. He was 6 foot 3, and 200 plus pounds coming out of high school. However he was graded a three star recruit, and didn’t receive a single offer from a power 5 school to play quarterback. His best offer at the position came from Boise State, in the group of 5 division. The power 5 schools liked his size and athleticism, but those that did offer came with opinions that he should be playing cornerback, linebacker, or receiver.
Trey Lance would decide on North Dakota State, partly because he liked the traditional style of calling plays, and the school put the responsibility of making adjustments in protections and run and pass checks on the quarterbacks. Other teams in the running were typically calling their games in more hurry up offence and plays from the sideline. Trey Lance liked the more traditional approach.
Trey Lance had a 100% completion rate in his freshman season at NDSU. However he only threw one pass. He redshirted the year and came back the following season as the starter.
And that’s when his name started to creep into conversations about the next level. At North Dakota State, both of Trey Lance’s predecessors have been drafted into the NFL. They have a good thing going on there when it comes to preparing their QBs for the next level. Carson Wentz was drafted 2nd overall by the Eagles in 2015, and the guy who followed him in the yellow and green for the Bison, Easton Stick, was drafted in the 5th round by the Chargers in 2018. That’s when Trey Lance took over.
He’ll be the third starter for the D2 outfit in a row to get himself drafted, and while he might not break Carson Wentz second overall mark, he’ll most definitely have himself a spot in the big league on day one of the draft.
His second season with the Bison, and first actual season playing, would be the one that shaped his destiny. He threw 28 touchdowns, ZERO interceptions, none, squat, nada. He ran for another 14 touchdowns. Just the 42 for him overall.
The Bison went 16-0, didn’t lose a single game, and won the FCS championship against James Madison. They were barely challenged until that game, and a lot of that was thanks to Trey Lance being the best part of flawless all season.
After such a successful season, and once the following season was cancelled for the Bison amidst COVID measures after only three games, Trey Lance decided to declare for the NFL draft. He’ll be drafted with one perfect year under his belt, and that’s all she wrote.
The complication of course is that these tapes are not against Alabama defences, or Clemson defences, or any other powerhouse school that the likes of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields have come up against. This is the question mark with Trey Lance. His highlight tape, and largely the FCS play style, is these play action, long ball, deep passes to wide open receivers. It’s a great scheme. How much of it hides any faults that Lance might have?
What he does have is totally elite measure-ables, and the ability to run like the wind. Now standing 6 foot 4, 227 pounds, he’s a presence in the pocket that’s for sure. He’s strong, athletic, and will break an arm tackle and keep his legs churning. Maybe that’s the young running back inside him. Either way, he’s certainly a fit for the new brand of quarterback that the NFL is starting to really warm to in recent years. Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes type athletes. He gives you that option, which changes the way you’re able to run your offence. I love his running ability, he glides past defenders and his option reads appear very smooth and decisive.
Equally, he can throw a deep ball with the best of them. He’s certainly had enough practice. Trey Lance hit’s his man without hesitation, seems to read the field well to find the open man, and guns it. Again, this might be a strong belief in the system he’s playing in, but there’s also some very good arm talent mixed in there too.
NFL teams are going to have to analyse whether he can fit a ball in the window, with linebackers prowling around, and edge rushers bearing down on him. Can he throw open his guy? NFL DBs will ruin your career if you can’t throw a guy open.
The NFL brings smaller windows of opportunity, and tighter windows to fit the ball into. What we’ve not seen enough of yet is that ability to get it done. That’s not Trey Lance’s fault by any means. He did everything he could do to win football games, and was very very successful in doing so.
But the one season under his belt, and apparent wide open receivers on a lot of his best plays and longest throws, is he able to beat coverage against the best of the best on Sundays?
He’s likely more of a project, not an immediate starter. He’ll need time to settle into the NFL and adjust to the fact that he’s not able to launch 50 yard tudders with ease each and every weekend. Again, no sleight on the young man himself at all, it’ll just take critical analysis from NFL teams, because it’s not on tape. But if you throw the doubts aside… what you have is a young man with every bit as much athleticism as Deshaun Watson, and the arm to accompany it. Is he as good as Deshaun coming out of college? Well that’s tough to say because again, Deshaun has the tape to show he could put on a comeback show to win the National Championship in the final minute against Nick Saban and Alabama.
As much as that perfect season really is remarkable, this is always going to be the sticking point for Trey Lance, at this stage.
Trey Lance is described as a quiet guy, focused on his religion, and being himself. He’s not a loud, in your face, media attention kind of dude. And I think that works in his favour. He’s going to put his head down and work hard, and earn his spot on the roster. So where does he fit best in the NFL?
Trey Lance is likely to be QB4 off the board come draft day, the question is where. For me, all signs point to Carolina. They’ll be perfectly positioned to draft Trey Lance without having to move, and unless they REALLY like one of the other guys and wish to trade up with Miami, this seems like the perfect landing spot for several reasons.
First of all, there’s no pressure for Trey Lance to play immediately. Teddy Bridgewater is a capable starter in the NFL. Play Teddy while you give Trey Lance a chance to develop, and all being well, he can likely sit a whole year before he’s called upon.
On top of that, you have one of the best passing coordinators in the game right now. The up and coming Joe Brady, who worked with Joe Burrow as LSU’s passing coordinator during THAT season, helped to put Burrow on the map. He wasn’t in the conversation for the first round before LSU went crazy that year, and I still attribute a lot of that to the play calling and scheme ability of Brady. Giving him a project like Trey Lance to work with, aiming for Burrow like results, is only going to be a good thing for Carolina.
The ceiling on Lance is very high. Does he have the measure-ables? Yes. Does he have the arm? Yes. Is he able to run like the best of them? Yes. Can he get it done on Sundays, with the best of the best? We will have to see! Either way, Trey Lance is a very exciting prospect, and I look forward to seeing him progress at the next level.