Trey Lance Praised as 'Whole Other-Level Special' by Coach Ahead of NFL Draft

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance prepares to play against Central Arkansas at 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

One coach described North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance as a "whole other-level special" ahead of the 2021 NFL draft. 

"He has all the physical tools," the unnamed coach told Bruce Feldman of The Athletic on Tuesday. "Nothing fazes him, and I think he's a fierce competitor. He finds ways to make plays. He's a big, strong kid who is hard to tackle and can make you miss in space. He's extremely well-coached. You never saw just bad throws; most of them were where his guys are getting it right in stride."

Lance is one of potentially five quarterbacks who could come off the board inside the top 10 of the draft on April 29. He joins Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson and Alabama's Mac Jones in the group that'll likely define the 2020 class.

The 20-year-old Minnesota native, who lands with the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 in Feldman's mock draft, burst on to the scene in 2019 when he completed 66.9 percent of his throws for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and not a single interception. He also added 14 rushing scores.

That's pretty much all the information scouts have to assess. He threw just one pass as a freshman and played only one game in 2020 before NDSU moved the rest of its season to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. He opted out in order to prepare for the draft.

Those video game numbers from his sophomore season combined with his athletic 6'4", 226-pound frame have coaches buzzing, though.

"On film, you don't realize how big he is because he is so athletic," a college coach told Feldman. "He was much bigger than we thought he was. That size, athleticism and arm are so rare at this level. He broke some runs on us where he'd break tackles, push the pile. One play, we had one of the best athletes we had come free on a blitz, and he makes him miss and throws a perfect ball on a dig to pick up the first down."

One coach did question Lance's only game of 2020, when he completed just 15 of his 30 passes in a 39-28 win over Central Arkansas, per Feldman.

"I think the one thing people can question is how well is he as a true pocket QB? When they played that game in 2020, he struggled some, and you wanted him trying to impress people," the coach said. "Was he pressing? Are they running a different system for this game?"

Lance still finished that contest with four total touchdowns (two passing and two rushing) and just one interception.

Whether he'll be ready to make a Day 1 impact in the NFL with basically one season of college experience against mostly FCS competition is tough to know.

That said, his raw tools suggest he could be a star at the next level in a system that can highlight his dual-threat playmaking ability.