NFL Draft 2021 Rumors: Trey Lance Scares NFL Coach; Mac Jones Could Jump Ahead

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2021

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance celebrates the touchdown run by Hunter Luepke against Central Arkansas in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota State won 39-28. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Trey Lance is the mystery quarterback of the 2021 NFL draft, a tantalizing prospect with an elite arm and athletic prowess but major questions about his ability to play against NFL competition.

“He’s a guy we all needed to see more of, for a lot of reasons," one coach told Peter King of NBC Sports.

The coach described himself as being "scared" of Lance. King wrote he would not be surprised if Alabama's Mac Jones overtakes Lance as the fourth quarterback in April's draft.

Lance's draft stock is complicated by the fact North Dakota State played only one game in 2020, which was coincidentally the worst game of his career. He threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns against one interception, the first of his collegiate career while adding 143 yards and two scores on the ground.

The performance showed off both Lance's tantalizing talent along with the reasons some scouts think he's not ready to start at the NFL level. Lance's representation can flip that in the other direction, saying a singular game over the span of an entire year isn't enough to knock his draft stock.

When looking at Lance's brilliant 2019 season, it's easy to see the bigger picture. Lance threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns without a pick while adding 1,100 rushing yards and 14 scores. He led North Dakota State to an undefeated record and FCS national championship.

Because the Bison are essentially the Alabama of the championship subdivision—they hadn't lost since 2017 before last weekend—there are some concerns as to whether Lance was a big fish playing with other big fishes and taking advantage of a small pond filled with minnows.

Carson Wentz is the most successful NFL player to come out of North Dakota State despite the school's success in recent seasons.