QB Trey Lance, North Dakota St.** (6’3”, 221)
Redshirted in 2018, then started all sixteen games the following year, going 16-0 and became the first freshman to win the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player at the FCS level; completed 66.9% of his passes for 2,786 yards (9.7 YPA), with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions, adding 169-1,100-14 (6.5.) on the ground. Won the only game the team played this past year before declaring for the draft.
Has solid size for a pro quarterback. A dual-threat quarterback who was asked to execute a lot of run-pass options at the college level, many of his attempts taking him between the tackles to grind out tough yardage. A smooth athlete who is patient enough to wait for blocks to develop and has a little bit of elusiveness in the open field. Able to run but has a pass-first mentality. There’s a gracefulness to his game which is very appealing. Has relaxed footwork, throws from a wide base, and gets the ball out quickly from a high release point. Does a good job of selling the play action. Can roll out to either side and complete throws on the move (including across his body) and will reestablish his base when he has time. Has solid arm strength and can generate zip even when rolling to his right. Throws a very catchable ball with touch. Brave enough to give his receivers a chance downfield. Gets enough air under his deep ball. Made few mistakes at the college level, making it through his 2019 campaign without being intercepted. Flashes the ability to work through progressions and find targets across the field.
Comes with only one year of starting experience in a simplified offense against a lower level of competition. Worked out of the shotgun and will have to adjust to playing from under center. Was rarely asked to read more than half the field, with a lot of designed rollouts to shrink the field. Seems to have thrown to the right side of the field much more often than the left. Doesn’t always transfer his weight effectively, and ball placement can be iffy. Some of his passes are wobblers and will force receivers to adjust or scoop throws even within ten yards of the line. Would like to see him get more consistent zip on the ball when throwing into tighter windows. Struggles to throw the ball accurately downfield, particularly when going to the left side of the field. Needs to do a better job of protecting his body; too willing to get physical and fight for additional yardage.
A player who can make playing the position seem easy, and who was able to seamlessly step into a starting role and continue North Dakota State’s seasons-long winning streak, making good decisions and protecting the football. Athletic profile is very well-suited to the modern game, but will have to answer questions related to his level of competition and the relative simplicity of his offensive scheme. Looks destined to go high in the first round but might need some time to develop behind a veteran bridge before he’s ready to start games at the pro level.