Trey Lance from North Dakota State is seen widely as the 4th best QB in the 2021 Draft Class, however, many not only believe that he is the third or second best, but also lots of people have called him the highest ceiling QB prospect in the class. I don’t believe Lance’s ceiling is as high as others, and I also believe his floor is more likely in many scenarios than the ceiling.
Lance without a doubt is a high ceiling prospect, I will not deny that, but what makes Lance’s ceiling any higher than Trevor Lawrence, who will not only be more likely to hit his sky high ceiling, but also has a longer potential ceiling given that his play style isn’t based solely off of his physical traits. Not only is Lawrence a higher ceiling prospect, but why isn’t Justin Fields’ ceiling as high as Lance? Dialogue on Fields is split, when I believe he is not only a relatively high floor prospect, but also a high ceiling prospect. Everything that Fields has issues with, Lance does as well, and Lance also has competition concerns, and major accuracy issues. Zach Wilson does not merit Aaron Rodgers comps for his pure arm talent, but he does have the improvisational playmaking trait that is shared by Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and in last year’s draft class, Joe Burrow. I believe that all 3 of those guys have higher floors and similar ceilings than Lance, and I also believe that Mac Jones has a significantly higher floor given his great accuracy and decision making with good pocket footwork. In some situations, I’d take Lance over Jones, and in others, I’d take Jones over Lance, but I do rank Jones as my QB4 and Lance at 5.
Any raw QB with great physical traits draws Josh Allen comparisons, which makes sense, they have similar prospect profiles, with similar style tape as well, but Allen was a bad QB for 2 years in the NFL and then had the greatest single season improvement for a QB in NFL history for a QB that has played at least two seasons. Trey Lance is not Josh Allen because nobody is Josh Allen. Until I see more QB’s have similar type developments, I can’t buy the Allen comps as a good thing. I could see Lance having a crazy development the way Allen did, but it’s much more likely that he falls the way of another highly touted Bills first round QB, EJ Manuel, who also had great arm talent, size, and running ability, but put up just a 38 QBR in his 10 starts as a rookie and never maintained his starting gig past week 4 of his second season. Other top round guys like Jake Locker and Paxton Lynch also had all of the physical gifts, but were never polished enough to be NFL QB’s. For every type of Dwayne Haskins bust, there’s a Paxton Lynch bust.
Now moving to Lance as a player.
- Arm Talent: has the strength to make any throw on the football field, will have one of the league’s top arms the moment he’s drafted.
- Running Ability: over 1000 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2019, his size/speed combo makes him extremely dangerous.
- Size: 6 foot 4, 225 pounds, and runs like a tight end
- Understands his skill-set: didn’t force himself to do things that he couldn’t do, resulting in the great numbers, 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, but this is also a weakness for reasons I’ll explain later
- Escaping Pressure: Lance uses his athleticism all the time to move out of the pocket when under pressure, he took very few sacks
- Age: Still very young, will be just 21 years old when the season begins
- Accuracy: ball placement is terrible, by a wide margin the worst of any of the top 5 QB’s at any place on the field.
- Throwing Motion: I’m not quite sure how to put this, but he has a weird dip in his throwing motion, easily fixable though
- Understands his skill-set: didn’t attempt things he “can’t” do, proving that much of his game is a question mark. Throwing beyond his first read, attempting tight window throws are things he didn’t often try
- Leading Receivers: he does at times get the ball to his WR, but often he leaves YAC on the field for them with his ball placement
- Arc: Lance opens himself up to potential danger plays all the time by not knowing how to arc the ball. He zips every single pass, which he can do well, but his tape reveals that the zero interceptions aren’t really legit.
- Throwing under pressure: He doesn’t make any of his best throws under pressure, and it results in a 67.7 PFF Grade when pressured as opposed to a 90.3 PFF Grade when not pressured
- Decision Making: definitely did not deserve to have that zero interception statline, at times, he’s blind to lurking safeties and linebackers and he has his pass deflected or creates a tough situation for his WR.
- Consistency: While he does throw a great deep ball, all too often he’ll underthrow one. He makes great plays but also terrible plays, because he only had 18 attempts per game at NDSU, he didn’t have the opportunity to show that he could sit back and let it rip for a massive passing day.
That being said, Lance is not a bad prospect, he provides incredible upside if used in the right ways. but I really don’t know why people could possibly consider him better than Fields or Wilson, and I don’t think he pans out as easily as Jones. If Lance does pan out, he will likely be a fantastic player, and one of the best in football, but to me, it’s significantly more likely that he busts and is out of the league very quickly.