2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

HEIGHT: 6-4 / WEIGHT: 226 / COLLEGE: North Dakota State / CLASS: Redshirt Sophomore

2019 STATS (16 GAMES): 192/287, 66.9%, 2,786 passing yards, 9.7 YPA, 28 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 180.6 passer rating; 166 attempts, 1,100 rushing yards, 6.5 YPC, 14 rushing touchdowns

CAREER STATS (18 GAMES): 208/318, 65.4%, 2,947 passing yards, 9.3 YPA, 30 touchdowns, 1 interception, 173.8 passer rating; 192 attempts, 1,325 rushing yards, 6.9 YPC, 18 rushing touchdowns

GAMES WATCHED (14): Butler, North Dakota, Delaware, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Youngstown State, Western Illinois, South Dakota, Nicholls, Illinois State (FCS quarterfinal), Montana State, James Madison (2019); Central Arkansas (2020)

40BENCHVERTBROAD3 CONE20S60S

ACCURACY/BALL PLACEMENT (17.5/25)

  • Good quick-game accuracy
  • Very good at throwing off play-action
  • Throws a pretty deep ball at times
  • Shows touch on intermediate and deep throws
  • Subpar accuracy on the move — frequent low or behind misses/near-misses due to mechanical issues
  • Struggles a little bit with accuracy in the intermediate range (11-19 yards)
  • Leaves some deep passes short, allowing defenders to recover
  • Ball placement is inconsistent, especially outside the numbers — too many passes force receivers to fall down, slow down, squat or break stride
  • Puts too much heat on short passes at times
  • Wasn’t pressured much, so ability to maintain accuracy under duress is somewhat of a question mark

ARM STRENGTH/VELOCITY (15/15)

  • Has the arm strength to attack all levels of the field
  • Zips the ball into tight windows downfield and from the far hash
  • Makes deep throws look effortless
  • Able to cover at least 65 yards of vertical distance
  • Maintains velocity on the move
  • Able to compensate with arm strength when feet aren’t set

MENTAL PROCESSING (15/20)

  • Typically makes good pre-snap reads and knows where to go with the ball
  • Good sense of timing and anticipation
  • Able to make full-field reads
  • Solid processing speed
  • Takes good care of the ball and rarely throws interceptable passes
  • Willing to throw the ball away and generally knows when to give up on a play
  • Solid internal clock
  • Knows when to find checkdown
  • Relatively good eye discipline and flashes of manipulation
  • Plays overly cautious — has hesitated to pull the trigger on wide-open targets that he’s looking directly at; reluctant to throw to semi-open receivers at times, too
  • Can be slow to adjust off of incorrect pre-snap read
  • Some instances of predetermining throws
  • Misread leverage of second-level defenders on a few occasions

POCKET PRESENCE (11.25/15)

  • Pretty good pocket awareness and mobility — makes subtle movements to extend plays from within the pocket and feels pressure well generally
  • Fearless in the face of pressure
  • Pass rush lowers his eyes at times, although he normally stays scanning for downfield targets
  • Some instances of impatience in the pocket, quickness to run

THROWING MECHANICS (3.5/5)

  • Smooth delivery with high release point
  • Gets the ball out quickly
  • Great footwork from under center
  • Does well to reset feet and stay ready to throw when forced to move
  • False step from shotgun throws off timing of passes at times
  • Spins front foot when following through on throws occasionally, leading to sailed passes
  • Doesn’t consistently get toes and hips aligned to target when throwing on the move
  • Altered footwork in 2020 game is concerning

MOBILITY/OFF-SCRIPT PLAYMAKING (8.5/10)

  • Athletic for his size (low 4.7 speed?)
  • Very good runner — sets up blocks well, breaks a lot of tackles, makes defenders miss and uses speed to pick up big gains on the ground
  • Elusive in the pocket
  • Extends plays by running to throw
  • Needs to do a better job of protecting himself as a runner — too willing to lower shoulder and invite contact

INTANGIBLES (9/10)

  • One-year starter (17 career starts)
  • Looked advanced beyond his years in terms of mental processing, pocket mobility and footwork in 2019 as a redshirt freshman
  • Coaches rave about his football IQ and mental makeup
  • Shows toughness in the pocket
  • Will be just 20 years old when he’s drafted
  • Level of competition concerns — didn’t play against much pro talent in the FCS; how will he handle the speed of the NFL game?

OVERALL GRADE: 79.75/100.00 — EARLY 2ND ROUND — Starter by Year 2; raw with star potential or complimentary starter

NFL COMPARISON: Steve McNair

SCHEME FIT: Has the arm talent to eventually become scheme-versatile, but may translate most readily into a west coast offense because of his excellence in the quick game, ability to throw with timing and struggles throwing on the move.

DRAFT PROJECTION: Top-10 pick

Trey Lance showed some advanced skills as a redshirt freshman first-year starter for North Dakota State in 2019. His pocket mobility, mental processing and throwing mechanics were all impressive, considering his inexperience. Additionally, he showcased a great physical skill set. With a cannon arm, respectable accuracy and plus mobility, Lance has the upside of a top-10 NFL quarterback.

I’m not sure if he’ll be ready to start from Day 1, but I think he could realistically be ready to play by the middle or later part of Year 1. To reach his NFL ceiling, Lance will need to improve his mechanics/accuracy and become a little more aggressive as a passer, while cutting down on some of the mental processing errors. With further game experience, film study, practice and coaching, all of his weaknesses should be improvable.

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